Caffeine: uses, benefits, and disadvantages

Among natural sources of stimulants, caffeine is by far the most widely used. Many studies have been done on its excitement-boosting effects and how it can enhance our performance in tasks that need alertness.

Over 80% of the adult population consumes caffeine on a daily basis in different forms (coffee, tea, energy drinks, chocolate, cocoa, capsules, etc.). Coffee is the most popular form of caffeine. Every year, more than 800 billion cups are consumed worldwide.

Do you know how caffeine works?

Understanding the mechanism of action of caffeine, the main active ingredient in coffee, is essential before talking about its pros and cons. Caffeine is an alkaloid that stimulates heart function, raises blood pressure, and increases heart rate (by 5-10%) for 1-3 hours. If taken occasionally, it can also increase metabolism by 5-20%, especially in less fit, leaner, or older adults.

Caffeine increases brain and central nervous system activity by targeting brain receptors, which results in higher levels of dopamine and other neurotransmitters. This activates our pleasure centers and helps us regulate functions such as attention and concentration.

Throughout our everyday lives, we come into contact with caffeine in different amounts. Avoiding excessive caffeine consumption is critical.


What coffee can do for you

Coffee is especially good at reducing fatigue, which is why most people drink it in the morning. Additionally, it increases brain activity, cognitive abilities, and performance. Having a cup of coffee in the morning will make it easier for you to get to work and school in the morning.

Blood vessels in the brain constrict when caffeine is consumed, which speeds up blood circulation. For this reason, caffeine is widely consumed by headache sufferers.

Drinking coffee several times daily is not dangerous to the body and may even reduce type 2 diabetes risk.

Our sense of smell can also be improved by caffeine. Several studies have been conducted on this topic, finding that people who consume at least 100mg of caffeine daily are better at detecting certain spices.

Let's recap the benefits:

  • Boosts energy levels (for up to three hours).

  • Improves alertness and mental and physical performance (for 1-3 hours).

  • Metabolic rate may be increased in lean, fit, or older adults (by 5-25%).

  • Type 2 diabetes is less likely to develop.

  • It may also reduce headaches.

  • Increased concentration and attention.

  • Sense of smell may be improved.


Drinking coffee has some disadvantages

Regarding the disadvantages of drinking coffee, it is crucial to note that in 90% of the cases, the disadvantages are the result of excessive consumption. That means drinking at least 6 cups or 600mg of caffeine per day.

Despite its importance in starting the day, morning coffee may not be our healthiest morning beverage in the long run. Researchers found a 53% increased risk of dementia by drinking more than six cups of coffee a day in one of the largest studies on coffee consumption involving 18,000 participants. In dementia, memory and thinking are impaired, making it difficult to carry out basic daily tasks.

Consumption of too much coffee can also result in reduced brain volume. In other words, in the long term, what we use to stimulate our brains and bodies could damage our brains, so we ought to be cautious about how much of the most popular brain boosters we consume.

Many people experience stomach acid production with regular coffee consumption.

Excessive coffee consumption and an inappropriate lifestyle can lead to osteoporosis due to its diuretic properties. Water loss (if not replaced) can also make you more prone to wrinkles.

Eliminating caffeine from your diet suddenly can lead to severe side effects. Additionally, you may experience fatigue, depression, difficulty concentrating, and mood swings. Long-term, quitting caffeine suddenly may result in mental disorders.

Energy levels fluctuate after drinking coffee

Caffeine has the primary advantage of energizing the user. We tend to drink numerous cups of coffee/tea, especially on more tired days. It can, however, cause extreme energy fluctuations due to coffee's sudden energy-boosting effect.

Caffeine's stimulating and energy-boosting properties seem to last between one and three hours, depending on genetics and body weight. Caffeine absorbs in the body 99% within 45 minutes, and the energizing effect lasts for 1-3 hours. This causes people to feel exhausted even more afterward. It is usually when the urge for another cup of coffee arises.

For this reason, it makes sense to try an alternative that boosts energy for the long term. L-theanine and lower caffeine levels in tea leaves are an alternative. Combining caffeine and L-theanine has improved concentration and kept energy levels high for longer periods. The combination of L-theanine and caffeine gives you more energy for 6-7 hours than caffeine alone.

Let's recap the disadvantages:

  • Overconsumption increases dementia risk by 53%.

  • Brain volume can be reduced through overconsumption.

  • It produces stomach acid.

  • Unwanted withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, depression, concentration problems, and mood changes.

  • Energy level fluctuates (after 1-3 hours, the body becomes tired and needs a new stimulus).

  • When consumed in excess, it can lead to osteoporosis due to its diuretic effect, lowering calcium levels in the blood.

To sum up

In conclusion, caffeine can have both beneficial and detrimental effects on our bodies. It can provide alertness and energy when we need it most, but it can also lead to insomnia and anxiety. It is important to be aware of caffeine's effects and evaluate whether it is the right choice for you. Moderation should be practiced and it is wise to seek medical advice if you are concerned about your caffeine intake.