Throughout the years many have questioned whether caffeine is good or bad for us… are there benefits to drinking a cup of joe a day? Or should we stick to herbal teas? Studies continue to show results of the pros as well as the cons each month in magazines, on the news, and in the papers… so, what’s the real story with caffeine? Here’s a few quirks and perks of caffeine to give you some insight.

Top 10 Quirks of Caffeine

  1. Cardiovascular Problems: Caffeine increases heart rate, elevates blood pressure and can contribute to the development of heart disease. It is also linked to coronary vasospasms, which cause 20% of all fatal heart attacks that kill otherwise perfectly healthy people.
  2. Stress: Caffeine stimulates the excretion of stress hormones, which can produce increased levels of indigestion, insomnia, decreased immunity, irritability, muscular pain and tension, and increased levels of anxiety. Increased stress may keep you from making healthy responses to normal daily stress.
  3. Emotional Disturbances: Irritability, anxiety, attention disorders and depression are the mood disturbances associated with caffeine consumption. It actually decreases blood flow to the brain by as much as 30% and negatively affects memory and mental performance.
  4. Blood Sugar Swings: Hypoglycemics and diabetics should avoid caffeine, which stimulates a temporary surge in blood sugar followed by an overproduction of insulin, which causes a blood sugar crash within hours. Since insulin’s message to the body is to store excess sugar as fat, this rollercoaster leads to weight gain.
  5. Gastrointestinal Problems: Some people experience a burning sensation in their stomach after drinking coffee because it increases the secretion of hydrochloric acid-leading to an increased risk for ulcers. Coffee (and decaf coffee) can also lead to heartburn and gastro-esophageal reflux disease since it reduces pressure on the valve between the stomach and the esophagus so that the acidic contents of the stomach pass up to the esophagus.
  6. Nutritional Deficiencies: Caffeine inhibits the absorption of some nutrients in addition to causing the urinary excretion of potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, trace minerals and all essential elements necessary for our health.
  7. Male Health Problems: Eliminating coffee has been shown to reduce the risk for prostate and urinary problems.
  8. Female Health Problems: PMS, osteoporosis, infertility problems, fibrocystic breast disease, miscarriage, low birth weight and menopausal problems (hot flashes) are all exacerbated by caffeine consumption. Women on birth control pills are particularly at risk since they tend to have a decreased ability to detoxify.
  9. Aging: Many people find that as they age, their tolerance decreases.
  10. Adrenal Exhaustion: Caffeine leads to eventual adrenal exhaustion, which may leave you vulnerable to a variety of health disorders related to fatigue and inflammation.

Top 10 Perks of Caffeine

  1. Alertness: Even low doses (100 milligrams) make people more alert.
  2. Mood: At 200 milligrams, people report an improved sense of alertness, sociability, energy, well-being, and happiness.
  3. Concentration: Studies show caffeine may help you perform a variety of cognitive tasks more quickly.
  4. Performance: If caffeine is consumed before exercise, it may increase endurance.
  5. Reduced Muscle Pain: Caffeine may stimulate the release of B-endorphins and hormones that alleviate discomfort and pain.
  6. Treat Headaches and Increase Effects of Medications: Caffeine constricts blood vessels and helps the body absorb medications more quickly (which is why it is added to some pain medications).
  7. Prevent Diabetes: Coffee contains antioxidants and minerals which help prevent diabetes.
  8. Increases your Antioxidant Intake: Antioxidants in caffeine help stabilize free radicals and stop them from doing damage. If a free radical is formed in a cell and nothing is done, it can damage the DNA of the cell.
  9. Dodge Diseases: It keeps the dopamine molecules active, preventing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
  10. Asthma Relief: It may be therapeutic for asthma patients.

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One comment

  1. Number 3 of the Quirks of Caffeine (Negatively affects memory and mental performance) would seem to contradict Numbers 1, 2, and 3 of the Perks. But that does seem to be common when studies on caffeine come out — each one disagrees with the last.

    Number 4 of the Quirks describes my past experience with coffee to a “T”. The blood sugar crash made me crave either ice cream or beer at the end of the day to take the edge off. I suspect caffeine consumption is to blame for many people’s cravings for sweets.

    Thanks for the useful food for thought!

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