Can Caffeine Be Both Good and Bad?

Is caffeine bad for you? Caffeine spelled out in scrabble tiles.

Starting your morning with some coffee has become so routine that you feel the effects when you miss that cup of joe. You’re not the only one that relies on your daily coffee, as over 60 percent of Americans drink coffee every day. What gives you that kick from a cup of coffee is its caffeine content, which is a natural stimulant. But is caffeine bad for you?

Caffeine is most commonly found in coffee, tea, and many sodas. It works by stimulating the brain and central nervous system, which may allow you to stay more alert and delay the onset of feeling tired. It is not only Americans that consume caffeine, but nearly 80 percent of the global population consumes caffeine each day.

After it is consumed, caffeine works its way into your bloodstream, and is then broken down by your liver. It can affect different organs, but the main effect is on your brain. Its function is to block the effects of adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes your brain, making you feel more tired. Adenosine typically will build up throughout the day, making you more tired as the hours go by, but caffeine acts relatively quickly to counter and prevent those effects.

A kick-start also increases other signalling molecules, like dopamine and norepinephrine, which can benefit your mood and brain function. It has also been found that caffeine can improve alertness, short-term recall, and reaction time. There is even a chance that drinking three to five cups of coffee each day could reduce the risk of brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Heavy use can lead to unpleasant side effects, however. For instance, drinking over four cups of coffee might lead to headaches, insomnia, nervousness, irritability, frequent urination, fast heartbeat, or muscle tremors. Some people can be more sensitive to caffeine intake, which can cause restlessness or feeling jittery. Drinking something caffeinated in the afternoon can interfere with your sleep, which could then lead to an uncomfortable sleep cycle.

By itself, caffeine isn’t as unhealthy as it was once believed, but if you think you are consuming too much, start by cutting back gradually. This helps your body get used to the lower levels, and will lessen any potential withdrawal effects. 

As long as you stay mindful of the amount of caffeine you consume, it should not pose a significant health problem. For more information on both positive and negative effects of caffeine, call Christian Healthcare Centers today at (616) 226-2669.

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