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11 Health Benefits of Caffeine

Updated on June 28, 2017

Caffeine Meaning

Caffeine is a stimulant chemical found naturally in beverages like tea and coffee. This alkaloid compound stimulates the central nervous system (CNS). This bitter white substance is a xanthine and is similar in structure to theobromine and theophylline.

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Caffeine Health Benefits

Caffeine offers many health benefits. Here is a brief overview of 11 caffeine benefits.

Increases Alertness

Many research studies have proved that moderate caffeine intake increases alertness. During one such study, alerting effects of caffeine were assessed using a standard physiological measure of daytime sleepiness/alertness, the Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT).

24 healthy young men were randomly assigned to have 250 mg of caffeine or placebo administered double blind, at 9 am and 1 pm on each of two days. On the third day both groups were given placebo to test for conditioning to the alerting effects of caffeine.

Each day sleep latency was measured at 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm and 4 pm and performance was assessed. Caffeine increased sleep latency and auditory vigilance performance compared to placebo.

Tolerance to the effects of caffeine on sleep latency developed over the four administrations. On the conditioning test the group that was given caffeine the previous two days was more alert and performed better than the placebo group.

Caffeine fights sleep inertia and increases your ability to concentrate. It also reduces fatigue. Caffeine enhances performance on vigilance tasks and simple tasks that require sustained response.

If you look at all the studies, regular use of coffee seems to have a benefit. We do recommend coffee in our clinics. It is not a treatment, but we certainly don’t stop people drinking it.

— Dr Alex Hodge, gastroenterologist and liver disease specialist at Monash Health

These tablets have all the positive effects of caffeine. It is made in USA.

Reduces the Risk of Mouth and Throat Cancer

Some epidemiological studies indicate that drinking coffee halves the risk of mouth and throat cancers. One such study concluded that people who drink more than four cups of coffee every day have a 49 percent lower risk of developing cancers of the mouth and throat.

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Prevents Stroke

A study conducted in Sweden indicated that women who drank more than one cup of coffee every day reduced their risk of stroke by around 25 percent. In the study, scientists followed 34,670 women (aged between 49 and 83) for an average 10.4 years. Those who drank little or no coffee had an increased instance of stroke.

Delays the Onset Of Alzheimer's Disease

Currently there is no curative treatment for Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Caffeine, which is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world, delays the onset of Alzheimer's Disease, which is the main cause of dementia. Drinking 3-5 cups of coffee per day at midlife reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease by about 65 percent.

Drinking coffee has also been associated with fewer incidents of neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. There’s limited but emerging evidence that coffee is associated with lowering the risk of several cancers including colorectal, liver, ovarian, pancreatic, oesophageal and endometrial. It has all those beneficial associations.

— Dr Alex Hodge, gastroenterologist and liver disease specialist at Monash Health

Prevents Parkinson's Disease

A research study on 812 subjects in Singapore indicates that people who drink coffee are less likely to be affected by Parkinson's disease than those who do not drink the beverage.

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Improves Memory

Many research studies indicate that a dose of caffeine after a learning session may help to boost long-term memory. One such study was published in Nature Neuroscience, a monthly scientific journal.

Promotes Eye Health

A research study conducted at Cornell University indicates that coffee prevents eyesight deterioration. The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Caffeine prevents cataracts. It is used to treat dry eyes.

I would say coffee, overall, is good for you.

— Dr Alex Hodge, gastroenterologist and liver disease specialist at Monash Health

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Good for the Liver

Moderate coffee consumption reduces the risk of many liver related diseases like fibrosis, liver cancer and cirrhosis.

Dr Alex Hodge, gastroenterologist and liver disease specialist at Monash Health, conducted a research study which involved 1018 patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, hepatitis C and hepatitis B virus.

He said, “Drinking two or more cups a day is associated with a reduction in what we call ‘liver stiffness’, which is marker for inflammation and scarring — so liver damage essentially. And this is accounting for things like age, gender, medications, alcohol consumption, smoking habits — all those other cofactors,” Hodge says. “We know other coffee compounds like chlorogenic acid can reduce inflammation and we think that diterpenes actually have an antitumorigenic — or anticancer — effect on the liver.”

Promotes Healthy Hair Growth

A study published in the International Journal of Dermatology indicates that caffeine stimulates the hair shaft and helps it grow faster by blocking the effects of DHT, a chemical that damages follicles.

Reduces Pain

Moderate consumption of caffeine can relieve pain. In fact this bitter crystalline alkaloid is an ingredient in analgesics like Excedrin. It also enhances stamina while performing physical exercises.

Mice Study

It appears counterproductive to consume caffeine when you intend to sleep, but some mice at Boston Children’s Hospital would beg to differ. Neurologists and neurobiologists at the hospital wanted to find ways to break the cycle of sleep deprivation in people who have chronic pain problems.

Once you are in pain, it us difficult to fall asleep, which results in sleep-deprivation, which tends to make the pain worse. So they began with mice. Mice that are kept awake experience increased pain sensitivity, meaning when you expose them to a painful stimulus they react more when they’re tired.

It seems like the best solution for mice and human beings would be to take a pain killer to ease the pain and get some rest. But the researcher scientists found that didn’t work. Even morphine lost its kick.

Caffeine Was More Effective Than Even Morphine

Drugs that promoted wakefulness—like caffeine or the prescription drug modafinil—worked far better. They published their results in Nature Medicine on May 8 2017.

To test pain medicines in mice, you need to overcome many challenges. Perhaps the most obvious and yet most challenging is that you can not ask these mammals whether they are in pain. Or rather, you can ask, but you cannot blame them when you don’t understand their response.

In studies about diseases cancer or diabetes, there are measurable impacts that you can view in mice without having to ask them to describe their symptoms. But pain is experiential.

You can try to explain what your pain feels like or assign it a number on an arbitrary scale—you still won’t ever truly convey what your pain is like to another person. And whether it comes from a measurable source or it is “all in your head” does not really matter. If you think you are in pain, you are.

Mice cannot tell us whether they are in pain. All we can do is interpret their behavior and infer a conclusion. If you expose a fully-rested mouse to a heat source and he jumps back after three seconds, but a tired mouse jumps back in just one, we can infer that the tired mouse is more sensitive to pain. That is how these neuroscientists did it.

Most mouse studies on pain that involve sleep deprivation keep the mice up by making them exercise or putting them under stress. These neuroscientists opted for a more realistic approach: they kept them up with entertainment.

Just as you might turn on late night TV or stay up reading “one more article” online, mice will stay up far past their bedtimes if given some cotton to chew on or nesting materials to arrange. Do that for 12 hours, and you have a group of very sleepy mice to perform your pain tests on.

Caffeine and modafinil helped the sleep-deprived mice return to a normal baseline of pain sensitivity, but it is not clear how directly that relates to people. How much does a full night’s sleep help someone with lower back back? Is caffeine just as good as sleep? What if caffeine keeps you up so much that you can’t sleep anyway?

We do know that caffeine helps acute pain. That is why some common headache drugs have added caffeine—it effectively boosts the analgesic effects of the medicine. It can work wonders on acute pain from things like tension headaches.

Chronic pain is a different monster, one that may not be so easily conquered. Often patients are suffering from nonspecific pain, which could be quite different from the specific pain these little mice experienced. If something like caffeine works well, it could help patients avoid the side effects of constantly taking pain medications. But that may be a big if.

Promotes Weight Loss

Caffeine burns calories by boosting the release of oxytocin, say experts at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan. In trials on overweight mice, this psychoactive substance was shown to help them slim down. It made them eat less and inspired them to be much more active on a wheel.

We found caffeine significantly reduced the food intakes and increased the wheel-running activities of diet-induced obese mice. Together, the results demonstrate caffeine treatment ameliorates obesity through both the reduction of food intake and the promotion of energy expenditure.

— Professor Guo Zhang

Does Caffeine Harm Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women?

Caffeine intake of pregnant women should not exceed 200-300 mg/day; that would be around two cups of coffee. Breastfeeding mothers can consume coffee in moderation.

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Is Caffeine Good For Children?

At low levels, caffeine enhances alertness and focus in children, but excessive consumption causes nervousness, jitteriness, headache and hypertension. Many experts are of the opinion that children and caffeine are a dangerous combination.

Caffeine Side Effects

Moderate consumption of caffeine does not cause any harm. Excessive consumption may cause increased respiration, restlessness, vomiting, stomach irritation, insomnia, nervousness, nausea and increased heart rate.

How Much Coffee Should One Drink?

Coffee mini-mogul Dave Makin said, “Everything in moderation. Don’t drink too much. Don’t go cold turkey. Just make sure what you are drinking is good quality.”

There are no set guidelines on how much is too much when it comes to caffeine because this stimulant affects individuals in different ways. Coffee beans come in different strengths depending on the variety.

For instance Robusta coffee beans contain more caffeine than Arabica. A lot depends on how the beans are roasted and on how the coffee is extracted.

As a general rule, according to the Better Health Channel, the safe limit for healthy adult human beings is up to 400mg of caffeine a day. That is about four to five standard single espresso shots.

Excessive Consumption of Caffeine Can Cause Death

Davis Allen Cripe, a healthy 16-year-old boy, died in April 2017 from consuming too much caffeine in a short space of time, according to the county coroner. He drank a large Diet Mountain Dew, a cafe latte from McDonald’s and an energy drink within two hours.

The county coroner confirmed that a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia” was the cause of death, reported USA Today. Davis collapsed during class at Spring Hill High School in Richland County South Carolina on April 26.

Natural Sources of Caffeine

Caffeine occurs naturally in around 60 plant species, including coffee beans, guarana berries, kola nuts, yaupon holly, tea leaves, guayusa, yerba maté, and cocoa beans.

Is Caffeine Addictive?

Regular use of caffeine causes mild physical dependence; however, caffeine doesn't threaten your physical, social, or economic health the way addictive drugs like heroin, cocaine, nicotine and methadone do.

5 Popular Products With High Caffeine Content

Sl No
Product
Caffeine Content (mg)
1
Crackheads Gourmet Chocolate Coffee Caffeine
600
2
Starbucks Coffee, Blonde Roast
475
3
Dunkin' Donuts Coffee with Turbo Shot
398
4
Bang Energy
357
5
Starbucks Coffee, Pike Place Roast
310

Summary

  • Caffeine stimulates the CNS.
  • Caffeine increases alertness.
  • Caffeine promotes a healthy liver.
  • Caffeine prevents stroke.
  • Pregnant women should not drink more than two cups of coffee in a day.

Coffee is a language in itself.

— Jackie Chan

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