Caffeine Isn’t All Bad: The Pros and Cons of Drinking Coffee
Starting your morning with coffee is more beneficial than you might think. Caffeine isn’t all that bad. In this post, we will look at the pros and cons of drinking coffee.
Caffeine has been linked with several health benefits, such as protecting against type II diabetes and reducing the risk of liver cirrhosis. It even appears to have a protective effect against Parkinson’s disease.
However, we still don’t completely understand how caffeine affects our bodies in the long term — and in particular in terms if its impact on the brain.
How does caffeine work?
A new study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience suggests that caffeine might boost our memory and make us smarter by changing connectivity patterns in the brain.
The researchers found that caffeine changed functional connectivity within specific neural networks, which then enabled improved performance on memory tasks. This effect was seen even 15 hours after consumption — so if you drink a lot of coffee over the course of a day, your memory will remain enhanced.
After you drink a cup of coffee, caffeine molecules quickly reach receptors in the brain that are normally targeted by a brain chemical called adenosine — and because these two chemicals resemble each other, caffeine can stick to these receptors.
As the neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of tiredness, adenosine acts as an inhibitory signal in the central nervous system. Adenosine slows down nerve cell activity by making them less excitable. Caffeine, on the other hand, increases neuron firing and speeds up function by blocking or inhibiting adenosine’s effects. When caffeine blocks adenosine, it results in increased neuron firing and heightened neuronal activity so that brain functions are sped up.
Is caffeine safe for you?
A lot of people these days are wondering if caffeine is safe for you to drink. Many say that it is not only addictive, but also makes the body dependent on it. This means that as soon as a person stops drinking caffeine, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and sluggishness.
A new research has shown that caffeine can help ease the withdrawal symptoms of alcoholics. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and showed that this was due to inhibition by caffeine of adenosine A2A receptors, which are known to be related with addiction. Moreover, after being exposed to caffeine, mice showed a temporary increase of dopamine (DA) in the shell of nucleus accumbens.
According to researchers, this is an interesting finding as caffeine consumption has been linked with lower risk for depression and anxiety–both disorders that often require treatment of people who are recovering from alcoholism. Additionally, such findings might provide support for new clinical trials (and specially for those recovering from addiction) that include caffeine.
However, until these studies are done, scientists urge caution because there is evidence showing that caffeine could worsen anxiety symptoms. Moreover, the benefits of caffeine in withdrawal symptoms might be limited to people with lower levels of chronic stress or depression.
Some of the negative side effects of coffee have been confirmed in a scientific study. The researchers studied caffeine consumption and its effects on the aging process. The study found that caffeine accelerates the aging process in several unexpected ways.
Coffee drinkers who also smoke cigars were found to be the most at risk; however, all individuals who drink coffee are subject to these side effects. The study reports that the accelerated aging process is due to decreased collagen production in the body. The majority of individuals studied who drank coffee regularly had approximately 40% less collagen in their skin than non-coffee drinkers. This causes the skin to become wrinkled more easily, which may explain why caffeine has long been associated with aging.
The study also found that while drinking caffeinated beverages speeds up the aging process, it does not appear to affect life expectancy. So rest assured, even as you age, you are not limiting your life.
How much caffeine is safe?
The FDA says 400 mg a day for adults is safe. But many health experts say that’s far too much. Many people get more than 400 mg by drinking one cup of a specialty blend (starting at $11) or two cups of drip coffee (about $4 total).
A 12-ounce cup of drip coffee has about 150 mg, but many specialty blends have more than twice that amount. The caffeine content of a pre-made brew varies widely depending on the brand. Many energy drinks include some combination of caffeine, guarana, ginseng and taurine.
When is the best time to consume caffeine?
Most people know that caffeine can give you a temporary boost in energy, helping you to be more productive. But when is the best time to drink caffeine in order to get the most out of it?
A recent study suggests that it’s more effective to drink caffeine in the morning, rather than later in the day. This is because our bodies produce less cortisol at this time, which has a slowing effect on the body and helps us feel more relaxed. Cortisol levels naturally increase as we get closer to bedtime, making us more alert and improving our memory. Researchers suggest that if you want to be more productive, it’s best to avoid caffeine in your daily cup of tea or coffee later in the afternoon or evening.
So far, we’ve looked at two scientific studies that seem to suggest coffee isn’t all bad. The first study showed that caffeine might help people recovering from alcoholism and the second showed that coffee drinkers have less collagen in their skin, which causes wrinkles more easily. But before you start stocking up on your favorite blends, there is one more thing to consider: caffeine’s negative effects.
What are possible negative side effects of caffeine?
A recent study found that the caffeine in coffee might increase the risk of atrial fibrillation (AFib), a condition characterized by an irregular and often abnormally fast heart beat, also known as a “fluttering” heartbeat. AFib is associated with about 15% of strokes and can cause people to feel lightheaded, short of breath or fatigued.
This study looked at the effects of caffeine on the cardiovascular system by testing blood flow in a group of participants who consumed varying amounts of caffeine. The researchers found that after ingesting 200 mg of caffeine, there was a significant reduction in cardiac output (the amount of blood sent to the heart) and stroke volume (the amount of blood sent to the brain).
The researchers concluded that, at least in the short term, there is an association between caffeine consumption and reduced cardiac output. And remember, 400 mg is considered safe by the FDA. So maybe it’s time to switch back to decaf…
Though the long-term effects of caffeine remain inconclusive, it’s important to weigh both the pros and cons before making a decision about whether or not to drink coffee. Some studies suggest that caffeine has negative effects on the cardiovascular system, while other studies show that caffeine can help recovering alcoholics and have anti-aging benefits. The bottom line is that everyone reacts differently to caffeine, so it’s important to experiment and find out what works best for you. And if you’re looking for an alternative to coffee, there are plenty of other caffeinated beverages available that might be a better fit for your lifestyle.
For me, I’ll stick to my good ole’ drip coffee from home. Drinking coffee is part of my normal routine at this point. With the knowledge of some the data, I’ll be sure to limit myself to less than 400 mg.