Good News For Coffee Addicts

Good News For Coffee Addicts

You can read one article and it will tell you that caffeine is bad for you.  You can read another one and it will state that caffeine is great for you.  It seems as if there’s so much contradictory information regarding caffeine that it’s hard to tell what’s true and what’s not. So I figured it’s time to address the subject and clear up the misconceptions. 

Is it bad or is it good for you?

Like anything else, the answer is “it depends”.  Caffeine, when consumed through coffee or tea, does have some proven health benefits:  It can treat headaches and it has been linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, and diabetes.  Although some of the benefits come from the caffeine itself, others come from the antioxidants found in the drink. 

After drinking coffee or tea, you will notice an increase in physical reactions, cognitive function and memory functioning.  In addition, when consumed, it sets off a chain reaction in the brain that release dopamine and norepinephrine, which are the “feel-good” hormones. 

However, it can be bad for you as well.  Straight caffeine or a large amount of caffeine in energy drinks has been known to be too much for some people.  Although most people simply experience temporary nervousness or racing heart, there are a few cases of hospitalizations or deaths occurring as a result of caffeine overload.  Anything more than four cups of coffee per day is considered to be excessive.  That’s about 400 milligrams.  In contrast, this is two energy drinks or 1/16th of a teaspoon of pure caffeine powder.  That’s right!  Even one teaspoon of pure caffeine powder may be enough to kill you. 

Can you become addicted?

Although some reports state that no one can get addicted to caffeine, they are quick to point out that you can become habituated to it.  The only reason they state it’s not addictive is because the emotional, physical or economic toll of overusing caffeine is not the same as using other addictive drugs, such as cocaine or meth.  In addition, those who are habituated to it can reduce their dose and become well adjusted to it without further cravings. 

The bottom line is that if you regularly consume caffeine and suddenly quit, you will probably go through some sort of withdrawal symptoms.  These could include fatigue, depression, muscle pain and trouble concentrating. 

Quitting or modifying?

If you feel you’re ingesting way too much caffeine per day, you can taper off to a more moderate level without withdrawal symptoms.  If you wish to taper off, slowly reduce your daily amount of caffeine over a period of time until you are at a healthy level.  If you’re at six cups of coffee, you can taper off to four in about a week without any negative side effects. 

If you are pregnant, have problems with heart disease or high blood pressure it’s better just to quit.  Caffeine can harm a developing baby and because it’s a stimulant, can aggravate symptoms of heart disease and elevate blood pressure.