Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wellness Wednesday: All About Caffeine

Caffeine is a substance found in coffee, tea, chocolate and soda.  Caffeine is frequently an additive in energy drinks, candles, and even some medications.  Research indicates caffeine can have both negative short term effects and long term benefits, so - it should be consumed in moderation and never abused. 

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant which also acts as a diuretic, increasing urine output.  Excess caffeine can cause rapid breathing, increased heart beat, dizziness, muscle twitching, sleep disruption, and changes in alertness. 

In most adults, recommended caffeine intake ranges from 200-300mg per day equal to 2 to 4 cups of coffee; however, quantifying excess caffeine is challenging; there are a variety of factors that determine how much is too much:

If you drink excess caffeine --  500 -600mg/daily, can cause insomnia, restlessness, irritability, and anxiety.  Slowly swap out each cup for a cup of water. 

If you have the jitters -- some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine then others.  This could be due to body mass, or medications or a history of anxiety. 

If you can't sleep --  adults need 6 to 8 hours sleep nightly and excess caffeine can cause disruptions in sleep pattern; sleep deprivation can cause decreases in daytime alertness and productivity;  too much caffeine can be cyclic -- drinking caffeine to stay alert, you loose sleep, and then your productivity is affected.  Control what you can -- get proper sleep!

There are health benefits.  When you consume caffeine it gets absorbed in the stomach and small intestines.  From there it is distributed throughout the body circulating to the brain.  Neurological benefits include alertness, improved cognition and improved mood.

Addicted?  As with any substance, an addiction to caffeine is a possibility, but dependency is more likely.  If you can't make it through the morning without your caffeine, test yourself.  Take one day off and drink water only.  If you experience a headache, fatigue or irritability, take it as a sign you need to cut back. 

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