Much research has been done and continues to be ongoing as researches study the effects of caffeine on the body. The problem is that one day we hear caffeine is bad for us and next we're told that it is good for us. What's the real scoop?
Consider the Source
Whenever results to a study are released one thing to look at is who paid for the study. For example, if a company that sells coffee has paid for the study, then there's a good chance that results have been skewed or slanted to make their product attractive.
Reported Good Effects of Caffeine On the Body
In general, caffeine is known as a stimulant. Whether you consider this a benefit to drinking caffeinated beverages or as an ingredient in your food is really a matter of personal opinion. Reported good effects of caffeine are based on low doses. Positive effects in these cases include:
- Improved sporting performance
- Increased alertness
- Reduction in fatigue
- Improved mood
Remember that the positive effects listed above are based on low doses. Unfortunately, drinking caffeine tends to lead to dependency because our bodies build up a tolerance to the "positive" effects. Because of this, we need to take in more to get the same benefits. This heavy usage can lead to withdrawal symptoms like severe headaches and fatigue if you have to go without. In general, overdoing it with the caffeine can lead to negative symptoms like:
- Increased urination leading to dehydration
- Irregular heartbeat
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increase calcium loss to bones
- Weight Gain
Various Caffeine Studies
The scope and number of studies looking at the effects of caffeine are vast. Here is a sampling:
- Parkinson's Disease: Prospective study of caffeine consumption and risk of Parkinson's disease in men and women generated results that supported that moderate doses of caffeine may have a possible shielding effect on risk of Parkinson's disease.
- Chronic Liver Disease: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and Social & Scientific Systems Inc. studied almost 5,000 who drank more than 2 cups of coffee or tea daily and another 5,000 who drank less than the 2 cups per day. The results suggested that people who drank 2 or more cups actually developed less chronic liver disease by a margin of half the rate.
- Miscarriage: A study on the effects of caffeine on pregnant women conducted by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that pregnant women who took in 200 milligrams or more of caffeine each day actually may double their risk of miscarriage.
- Performance Enhancement: While many people use caffeine specifically to perform better, this study published in Neuropsychobiology concludes that it does little for either performance or mood. Not only that, but that it might actually be robbing you of the restorative benefits of sleep.
- Alzheimer's: Early results in a study by the Florida Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the University of South Florida and colleagues from other research establishments studied the effect of caffeine in mice with Alzheimer symptoms and the mice who were given caffeine did better on memory and thinking tests.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
The list of studies and possible effects of caffeine on the body is more extensive than can be realistically listed in this article. In some tests high amounts of caffeine are used while in real life moderation is recommended. With moderation in mind, caffeine can be part of a healthy eating plan. However, if you struggle with insomnia, it is best to give up caffeine to help improve your ability to sleep.Other people who should consider giving up caffeine or at least cutting back include:
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding women
- People with high blood pressure
- People with ulcers
- Younger children 9Because of their smaller size they can easily develop restlessness or anxiety.)
- Older adults