Is Caffeine Bad for You? How Caffeine Affects Your Body

The jolt of energy you feel when drinking a caffeinated beverage may make it a little easier to get through the day. However, you might wonder whether regularly turning to caffeine to boost your energy is a healthy habit. Whether you like your daily dose of coffee, tea or soda, it's important to understand the side effects of caffeine and how they are affecting your health. If you're thinking about cutting back on your caffeine fixes, here are some important things to know about how caffeine affects your body.

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Negative Side Effects of Caffeine

Are you experiencing discomfort during the day, but can't figure out why? Your caffeine intake may actually be the cause. Here are some of the common physical side effects that can occur with excessive caffeine intake:

  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Migraine headaches
  • Frequent urination
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors
  • Stomach upset
  • Insomnia

Positive Side Effects of Caffeine

Caffeine may have some negative effects when consumed to excess, but in smaller quantities, it can actually be beneficial in many ways. The following are some of the key benefits of consuming a limited amount of caffeine:

  • Improved mood
  • Increased brain function
  • Increased metabolism
  • Enhanced exercise performance
  • Reduced risk of stroke, cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes

Ideally, you should try to get your caffeine from a healthy beverage, such as coffee (with little or no cream, sugar or flavorings) or tea.

How Much Caffeine Can I Have?

Generally, about 400 mg of caffeine is safe for adults. That recommended limit of caffeine does not take into account the types of beverages you drink, however. For example, 400 mg is typically found in about four cups of brewed coffee or 10 cans of soda. So while you may not be getting an excessive amount of caffeine, 10 cans of sugary soda or four cups of coffee loaded with sugar and cream is not good for your health. You need to consider whether the beverages you are drinking are good for your health in addition to the amount of caffeine they contain per serving.

Keep in mind that some people are more sensitive to caffeine. If you tend to have a higher caffeine sensitivity, you may start to experience the unpleasant side effects of caffeine listed above after two cups of coffee instead of four.

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Caffeine?

When it comes to getting a boost of energy from caffeine, that usually arrives about 30 to 60 minutes after you consume it. But how long does caffeine last overall? That depends on how much you drink and how sensitive you are to caffeine, but it usually wears off within four to six hours.

If you're trying to complete a full detox from caffeine, you'll need to wait a bit longer. The time it takes to clear caffeine from your body will depend on how much you've consumed. To completely get caffeine out of your system, you may need to stop consuming it for at least a day or two.

Symptoms of Caffeine Withdrawal

Most people don't realize they're addicted to caffeine until they suddenly find themselves experiencing a headache or other symptoms when they've missed their regular coffee, tea or soda fix. Feeling badly when you haven't had caffeine can be a wakeup call for many people; it demonstrates a level of reliance on this stimulant that may come as a wakeup call.

What happens when you stop drinking coffee, soda or another caffeinated beverage on a regular basis? The following are some of the most common symptoms of caffeine withdrawal:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating

If you're worried that these symptoms will have a negative impact on your daily life while you detox from caffeine, try slowly reducing your daily intake instead of going cold turkey. This may help to ease the symptoms so that they are not as acute as you cut caffeine from your daily routine.

Who Should Avoid Caffeine?

Health professionals advise against children and adolescents drinking caffeine. Caffeine can affect a developing brain and may also interfere with sleep, which is essential for learning. Some psychologists also advise against it since caffeine abuse could potentially lead to subsequent drug or alcohol use.

Some adults may also want to consider whether caffeine is right for them. Pregnant women and individuals with liver disease metabolize caffeine more slowly than other adults, while cigarette smokers metabolize caffeine twice as fast as non-smokers. People with anxiety disorders may experience higher levels of anxiety after consuming caffeine, and people with difficulty sleeping may find that caffeine interferes with their ability to get enough rest. Finally, you may want to ask your doctor if it's okay to consume caffeine with your medications.

Ultimately, having a small amount of caffeine each day shouldn't be harmful to your health. However, if you have developed a caffeine addiction or are drinking more than the recommended 400 mg limit, you may want to consider a caffeine detox.

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