Are you a coffee drinker? Perhaps you prefer tea? Maybe you get a buzz from energy drinks?
Let’s take a closer look at what caffeine does to our body – then we will have a better understanding of how much is too much?!
What is caffeine – At its best it is a naturally occurring substance found in many plants including coffee beans, tea leaves, Kola nuts and cacao pods. At its worst it is man-made then added to many of our foods and drinks, plus over the counter and prescription medication.
What happens when we consume it?
Our brain – Caffeine quickly reaches our brain and stimulates our central nervous system making us feel more alert. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine and it can cause anxiety, restlessness and exacerbate sleeping disorders. However, our body can develop a tolerance to caffeine and regular consumers may suffer withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability and drowsiness.
Digestive and Excretory Systems – Caffeine raises acidity in our stomach and may cause heartburn and inhibit nutrient absorption. It is also a diuretic, triggering our body to get rid of water which can result in dehydration.
Circulatory and Respiratory Systems – Caffeine circulates in our bloodstream within an hour or two after consumption resulting in elevated blood pressure. Excessive amounts may cause rapid or irregular heartbeats and possibly breathing trouble.
Skeletal and Muscular Systems – Too much caffeine can contribute to muscle cramps and the interference of calcium absorption can have a detrimental effect on bones.
Reproductive System – Caffeine present in our bloodstream travels into the placenta which acts as a stimulant causing a baby’s heart rate and metabolism to increase. Too much caffeine can slow fetal growth and increase the risk of a miscarriage.
Is it safe to drink caffeine?
The guideline limit is 400 milligrams (4 cups of coffee) a day for adults – as there is so much added caffeine to food and drinks, it is best to stick to no more than 2 cups of fresh ground coffee a day. Watch out for soft drinks and especially energy drinks! Some contain the equivalent of nearly 4 cups of coffee!
Better get that bottle of water out instead! Cheers