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Caffeine, good or bad for your health?

Updated on March 21, 2007

Is caffeine, good or bad for your health?

The answer is YES! Is caffeine good, yes! Is caffeine bad, yes! Meaning, there is no simple answer to this one; but this article will help you understand both the positive and negative effects of caffeine and how to maximize the positive and minimize the negative. We have to keep in mind that everything that passes through our mouth is fuel, and it is the right combination and the right balance of these fuels that will keep us as peek performance.

The Good

  • Caffeine increases alertness and short-term memory, and even alters your mood. The caffeine in a cup of coffee stimulates the central system as it simultaneously lowers the blood sugar and increases the brain's demand for sugar: The result is a temporary lift.

  • Research in the Journal of Sports Medicine showed how caffeine taken two hours before exercise enhanced the performance of athletes in marathon running.

  • A study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Associated reported that men who consume caffeine a day had a 40% lower risk of developing gallstones than non caffeine consumers.

  • Studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis have up to 80% lower risks of developing Parkinson's disease.

  • Studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis have up to 25% lower risk of colon cancer.

  • Studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis have up to 80% drop in the risk of liver cirrhosis.

  • Some researchers believe another compound called "trigonelline" - which gives coffee its bitter taste and its aroma - may be responsible for giving coffee both anti-adhesive and antibacterial properties which help prevent dental cavities from forming.

The Bad

  • Caffeine consumption may lead to insomnia.

  • Drinking coffee with meals in known to inhibit the absorption of iron and calcium from food.

  • Caffeine also has a diuretic effect and just one cup before exercise will trigger unwanted fluid loss.

  • Within half an hour of drinking one or two cups, the flow of the blood to the brain is reduced by 10% to 20%. Combine that with the low blood sugar, in those who haven't eaten for a while, and you can start having pulpitations, feelings of anxiety or blurred vision.

  • Withdrawal symptoms can occur after regular consumption of just one-to-two cups a day. Caffeinism, as it is sometimes called, shows up as migraine headaches and sickness.

  • Drinking several cups of coffee a day increase one's susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis. Scientists found a stong link between coffee and a biochemical marker for the disease and showed that people who drink four cups are twice as likely to test positive for arthritis.

  • In excessive amounts, meaning more than whatever an individual's body can tolerate, coffee can cause nervousness, jitters, and rapid heartbeat.

The Key

The key to reaping the benefits and staying away from the negative effects of caffeine is the same as with most things in life: Moderation.

Try just drinking one cup of coffee in the morning, rather than several cups. Eat something while you are drinking the coffee and after to avoid a drop in blood sugar which can lead to pulpitations, feelings of anxiety or blurred vision. If you believe you have a caffeine addiction, it is better to slowly reduce the amount of caffeine you are consuming rather that just stop, which can cause head aches and sickness.

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    denman4 10 years ago

    I am reminded of the school of thought that discusses the “addictive personality” and that when someone who has this type of personality “conquers” one addiction, he or she frequently replaces this addiction with another. For instance, it seems almost commonplace to observe people at AA meetings who are sober but who have started to smoke cigarettes or drink coffee to an excess. Perhaps the most optimal therapy helps a person understand that he or she has an addictive personality and then helps the person gradually replace addictive behaviors with those that are more healthy.

  • K. Cossaboon profile image
    Author

    K. Cossaboon 10 years ago

    Rhonda-

    Drinking "a lot" of coffee is never a good idea, actually "a lot" of anything is never a good idea, one thing I try to stress in all my articles is that moderation is the best way to go. I would work with your doctor to decide what the best way to boost your energy would be (but I would not suggest coffee, and I would bet that you doctor won't either.) Let me know if I can help you any further!

    -KC

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    Rhonda Lowery 10 years ago

    I have liver cirrhosis from taking the antidepressent Serzone, Is it OK to drink a lot of caffeine since that is the only way I can get any energy?