Is caffeine good or bad for your health?
Caffeine has guided and shaped our world. From the discovery of coffees stimulant effect in Ethiopia, to the British deciding to sweeten their originally Chinese tea with sugar from the Caribbean, to the civil unrest stirred in the Parisian coffee houses all the way up to the push for fair-trade prices around the coffee producing countries of the world. We will discuss a few of the fascinating and important facts about caffeine and your health below. And for those who want to learn more, we highly recommend Michael Pollen’s audiobook “Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the modern world” while you’re drinking your morning cuppa’.
Is Caffeine addictive?
Caffeine is a psychoactive compound that stimulates our nervous system. A small physical dependence can be created, which can lead to light withdrawal symptoms. However humans are mainly addicted to the lifestyle that we develop from drinking coffee… coffee makes us sleep less, so we drink more coffee to wake up, so we sleep less, so we drink more coffee… the vicious cycle
Can Caffeine increase the risk of serious disease?
Caffeine has been linked to increased risk of Osteoporosis, Heart Disease and Cancer, but is this true. The reality is that too much of anything is bad for you! There is little to no evidence of a link between either of these diseases and caffeine… however, anyone with underlying blood pressure issues or those over the age of 65, should check with a health professional about consuming more than 300 milligrams a day.
Does Caffeine sober you up…?
The old trick of drinking a coffee to take you back from the brink is… false. Studies have shown that caffeine gives the sense of sobriety, which can be a brilliant placebo, or a very dangerous inaccuracy. Coffee does not make it ok to operate a vehicle.
And for those using it to cure your hangover, there is a little more truth to it. One of the most debilitating effects of boozing is that it inhibits our sleep, leaving us sluggish the next day. Nothing like a few extra espressos to help get you through the day.
Is caffeine healthy in any way (I hope so)?
There are some subjective benefits with small doses of caffeine, such as alertness and increased energy. Something that Michael Pollen discusses in his audiobook, is the fact that poor lifestyle choices lead to fatigue and therefore many people function better after coffee, which has to be classed as a benefit.
And have you heard of the “bitter antioxidants” in caffeine? You don’t just get these free radical squashing heroes from blueberries. The caffeine, theobromine and xanthine found in tea and coffee exhibit antioxidant and chemopreventive properties that we should add to all our diets.
There is very limited evidence to show potential reduction in risk of Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes and dementia.