It’s so easy to depend on the magic of the caffeine pick-me-up when you’re dragging through the morning, afternoon, or evening. It seems like a harmless way to help push through the day. A little pep in a coffee cup, right? Maybe not.
What is caffeine, and how does it give us that boost?
The coffee component we’ve come to crave affects our bodies in the following ways:
- caffeine is a mild stimulant of the central nervous system
- caffeine revs up the heart
- caffeine relaxes smooth muscles
- caffeine increases stomach secretions
- caffeine has a diuretic effect
The avid coffee drinker should be aware of some pros and cons to our most beloved hot beverage and energy drinks. Let’s take a look:
- caffeine may increase levels of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) which increase alertness, attention, concentration, mood, and recall
- caffeine may slightly increase metabolic rate
- regular caffeine intake has been found to lower risks of Parkinson’s disease and type 2 diabetes
- caffeine may actually sap energy when relied on too often
- caffeine may increase blood pressure and cortisol secretion, leading to shakiness and anxiety
- caffeine may lead to insomnia and delayed sleep
- repetitive rise and fall of caffeine stimulation, combined with mild dehydration and withdrawal, are detrimental to overall health
Pervasive caffeine intake can lead to a “crashing and burning” energy cycle that behaves like drug dependency, not real energy production.
The effects of caffeine don’t last for long, and when they do wear off, you probably feel extra tired and hungry. Which may lead to more caffeine loading, or overeating, to compensate for the energy depletion. Not a plan for optimal health.
The moral of the caffeine story: Use caffeine wisely, and pay attention to your total intake. Consider healthier energy-boosters: walks, naps, breathing in invigorating essential oils, a splash of cold water.
Caffeine dependence isn’t the way.