Coffee is truly a unique bean, with one of a kind taste. Legends of its origin date back to 10th century where allegedly it was first used in Ethiopia, yet first solid proof of the coffee tree or drinking coffee is from the 15th century in Yemen’s Sufi monasteries. Then gradually, this fascinating bean has found its way into most other parts of the world like Europe, America, Africa, Iran and Indonesia.
Today coffee is part of many, many people’s daily routine as a staple drink. Some people drink it because of its flavor, some because of its ability to keep them awake and sharp-minded when they have work to do, or when they have a sit down with friends. Whatever the case, the fact remains that very often coffee is present in the cup of many not just in the morning, but at any time of the day too.
The thing is however, that one of the reasons why people drink coffee, namely the jittery effect, is caused by a particular compound which we all know – caffeine. For some years there has been certain controversy surrounding this substance, because taking too much caffeine has some side effects, which for some people may prove to be health-challenging.
How much caffeine should you consume daily?
If you also like to drink coffee, but would want to keep some boundaries of consumption, then perhaps you’d want to learn the answer to such a question.
Studies have showed that somewhere around 300-400mg of caffeine per day appears to be safe for most adults who don’t have any health issues. Generally, that amounts to circa 4 cups of coffee each day, two energy drinks, or 10 cans of cola. Despite that, people who’re taking specific medications or are just too sensitive to coffee’s effect, should carefully watch their dosage of coffee and respectively caffeine.
Possible side effects of caffeine
You should watch how much caffeine you consume every day, because the side effects of excessive caffeine intake may come out to be disquieting. Taking more than 500, 600mg daily might very possibly lead to the following states:
- Fast heartbeat
- Muscle twitching
- Stomach problems
As we noted, some individuals are more susceptible to caffeine, and may start to feel nervous even after 1 cup of coffee. If you’re one of them, the symptoms would probably appear after a single cup of coffee, and can be severer if you drink more.
Also, if you’re not used to drinking coffee on a regular basis, your sensitivity to the bad side effects of caffeine could be greater. Other reasons for that may be: anxiety conditions, use of certain medications, age, body mass and more. Some studies suggest that males tend to be more vulnerable to caffeine’s effects than females.
Talking about medications, you should be careful with the caffeine intake if you’re taking:
Theophylline, Elixophyllin, Theo-24, and other similar drugs that relax the bronchial muscles, and open up bronchial airways. Such medications usually have some caffeine-like effects. So if you’re already consuming caffeine-rich beverages and foods, the theophylline level in the blood would very likely increase and might cause health problems like heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting and more.
Even some herbal supplements like Echinacea, which is often used to prevent infections and flu, may increase caffeine’s side effects.
If you’re on some sort of medicine, ask your health care provider if it may interact with caffeine in some way.
Consuming too much caffeine may have a bad influence on your sleep.
An adult usually requires somewhere around 7 to 8 hours of sleep. You should do your best not to end up suffering from chronic sleep loss, including avoiding stress and overworking. Sleep loss is cumulative, and if you start decreasing your night’s slumber, you could pretty much experience sleep deprivation, which may result in worsening your daily activeness and performance. It’s not a problem to drink a cup of coffee from time to time when you’re feeling down, but if you drink too much regularly to cover it up, that may get you to an unpleasant cycle. Don’t forget that caffeine beverages may help you stay awake during the day, but their accumulation could also hinder your night’s sleep.
People with heart problems should limit their caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant that increases the blood pressure and blood rate. Therefore, those with conditions like hypertension, arrhythmia, and murmurs, should strictly watch their caffeine consumption which should be no more than 200mg a day. Please, do note that though being a stimulant, caffeine hasn’t been reported to cause any of these conditions we just mentioned.
Caffeine and type 2 diabetes
The situation involving caffeine and diabetes is kind of delicate. Research has shown that not only doesn’t caffeine increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes, but it actually helps prevent it. On the flip side however, those who already have diabetes should avoid caffeine intake, because it can damage their glucose metabolism. As with individuals with heart issues, those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes should regulate their caffeine consumption to maximum 200mg, of course not before consulting with their doctor.
Healthy pregnant and nursing women can consume around 200mg caffeine daily without jeopardizing the fetus or the nursing baby.
Caffeine and Children
Children of age 12 or under shouldn’t have coffee and respectively caffeine. That’s because kids’ brains are still developing, their bodies are still growing, hence they need sufficient sleep. The picture here is clear – caffeine can interfere with children’s sleep and impair their good brain development. For 4 year old children or older, circa 45mg caffeine a day is considered to be safe. That equals to a chocolate bar or some caffeinated soda. But overall, it’s best if children don’t consume caffeine.
Teenagers from 13 to 18 years should limit their caffeine intake to 100mg daily. In this age group, kids go to school, practice a sport and some even go to work. Being tired, they begin to discover the uses of coffee for themselves. So consuming up to 100mg caffeine per day for them in most cases is thought to be safe. However, they shouldn’t take more than that due to the fact that they too need enough sleep and rest to develop their body and brain properly.
Cutting off coffee
Should you reconsider your regular coffee intake, and decide to tremendously lower the caffeine you consume, there are a few tricks that can help you do that:
Try drinking a smaller cup of coffee, drink one less can of soda daily, and try not to drink any caffeinated drinks after the late afternoon. That’s how your body can get used to lesser caffeine dosages and the withdrawal effects that may follow.
Count the caffeine milligrams you take. Some people feel pretty surprised when they assess how much caffeine they actually consume. Don’t forget to check the labels of the products you buy to keep track on your caffeine intake. Keep in mind that some foods and beverages contain caffeine (even though in smaller amounts), yet that’s not mentioned in the ingredients list.
A Decaffeinated coffee is a great substitute for regular coffee for those who don’t want to give up the unique taste of coffee.
They still get to enjoy the flavor, yet significantly reduce the caffeine intake. Remember, despite being decaf, most decaffeinated coffees still contain some caffeine. The caffeine amount in 8oz brewed decaf coffee varies from 8.6mg to 13.9mg. The PhD researcher Bruce A. Goldberger who works at the University of Florida, says: “If someone drinks five to 10 cups of decaffeinated coffee, the dose of caffeine could easily reach the level present in a cup or two of caffeinated coffee”.
Another trick to reduce caffeine is to shorten the time you brew your coffee. Briefer coffee boiling reduces caffeine concentration. You can also opt for herbal teas that don’t have that much caffeine and don’t cause such side effects. For instance, matcha green tea is a great substitute for coffee when you want to stay energized and focused.