Caffeine is an alkaloid that occurs naturally in some plant leaves, seeds and fruits. Plants use caffeine as a natural pesticide in killing insects that feed on such plant leaves. You certainly consume caffeine in various ways. It is naturally found in coffee beans, green tea leaves, kola nut drinks and guarana amongst other plants. Caffeine’s main effect in your body is the stimulation of your body’s central nervous system. Once your CNS is activated, you are bound to become alert and less drowsy. Apart from coffee, green tea and other sources, some soft drinks and energy drinks also contain varying amounts of caffeine.
Positive Health Effects of Caffeine
Caffeine has positive health effects that include:
- Alertness – When caffeine enters your blood stream, it immediately activates the release of dopamine in your brain. This is a chemical substance found in your brain and that upon being released activates the central nervous system, enabling you to be alert. You are likely to experience and present a happy and rejuvenated mood.
- Blood vessels relaxation – Drinking caffeine temporarily relaxes your blood vessels, which is good for your heart. However, as you continue to drink more, the same vessels are bound to constrict, temporarily raising your caffeine blood pressure. Such is however non-life threatening (unless you are already suffering from high blood pressure).
- Increased performance – The fact that caffeine in coffee or tea activates your body’s central nervous system means that your heart and breathing rates will increase, enabling you to perform any task at a higher peak.
- Increased energy – As your body’s central nervous system is activated, the level of stress hormones also increases, signaling your liver to produce and pump more sugar into your blood stream. This results in increased caffeine energy that your body needs when you are alert.
- Antioxidant properties – Caffeine contents include powerful antioxidant properties. This makes caffeine good for the prevention of certain diseases.
- Dieting – if you are dieting with the intention of loosing weight, dieting and caffeine is a perfect combination since you will still obtain the necessary energy that your body requires.
Side Effects of Caffeine
Although drinking caffeine drinks has been found to be good for health, coffee overdose produce undesired side effects. Since it is a stimulant, chances of dependency become very high with regular drink overdose. Some of the major symptoms of caffeine dependency are craving for coffee drinks even when it is not appropriate and caffeine headaches when you fail to drink any. Addiction to caffeine can be serious and can easily lead to health complications. It is therefore important that you limit the amount of caffeine that you consume.
Some of side effects of caffeine include:
- Intoxication – Caffeine overdose an easily result in intoxication, which can make you restless, nervousness, euphoria, insomnia, muscle twitching, depression and increased urination.
- Death – Extreme caffeine overdose can easily lead to death. Although rare, it has scientifically been proven that you are likely to die with a median lethal dose of caffeine. This is possible if you drink roughly 80 cups of coffee in a short period, depending on your body weight.
- Sleep and Anxiety disorders – High dosage caffeine addiction can result in sleep and anxiety disorders that may require medical attention. You are likely to suffer from panic attacks and schizophrenia.
- Heart problems – Although caffeine is good to the heart through the fact that it relaxes blood vessels, caffeine overdose produces negative results. Overdosing results in the constriction of the vessels, forcing your heart to work extra hard. Overdosing on caffeine and heart is therefore not appropriate.
- Miscarriage – There is a negative connection between caffeine and pregnancy. Overdosing on caffeine while pregnant increases the risk of miscarriage.
Managing side effects of caffeine is the same as managing the effects of other addictive substances. It is therefore very necessary that you pay attention to the amount of caffeine that you consume on a regular basis. It will serve you good to limit the caffeine for your health. Instead of caffeine drinks, you need to consider switching to other healthy drinks such as fruit juices. Effects of caffeine in children can be serious and it is only important that you discourage them from consuming caffeine from an early age.