For most of my life I have been working towards living a healthy life. I watch what I eat, I get plenty of sleep and I get plenty of exercise. I do have one weak spot though…chocolate! And it is not just chocolate, it is also coffee, whether it is hot, iced or anything in between. In fact, if you put chocolate in my coffee, I would be in heaven!
But seriously, I was getting a little concerned about my caffeine “addiction”. It was getting to a point where I would not be able to start my day with a coffee, get through mid-day without some chocolate and hitting the local coffee shop for an iced coffee on the way home. This along with other hits of caffeine made me wonder if being “addicted” to caffeine was doing me any harm, both short term and long term.
So, recently for a continuing education project, and for my own curiosity, I wanted to find out if drinking coffee or having caffeine is helpful or harmful. During my past research I have seen studies done that show both sides of the argument. So, I wanted to look at both sides and decide for myself.
Health Benefits of Caffeine/Coffee
Respected medical experts at WebMD and Healthline have determined that a reasonable amount of coffee and caffeine can be fine, and even provide certain health benefits. What constitutes a reasonable amount is subject to debate, but having a candy bar will provide a benefit, but not be a hazard to your health. The same can be said if you drank a couple of cups of coffee. It will also provide some good short-term boosts. But research also found it can have some exceptionally good long-term benefits. The benefits can include:
- Alertness – A moderate amount of caffeine can provide you with an energy boost, which can make you feel more alert and awake.
- Illness Reduction – Studies have indicated that moderate amounts of coffee can help reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, and some types of Cancer.
- Physical Improvement – Drinking coffee before any physical activities can give you an added boost that can help improve your physical performance.
Health Disadvantages of Caffeine/Coffee
Medical experts at Healthline and WebMD have also provided information on the downside of having too much caffeine or coffee. While caffeine and coffee can provide some health benefits, you should also be concerned if you partake in more than a reasonable amount. The same grey area that signifies the right amount of caffeine or coffee that is acceptable is also a consideration when talking about how much, it too much! If you pound down three or four energy drinks a day, the amount of caffeine you are getting is probably too much. The same could be said if you have ten large cups or mugs of coffee a day. Some of the bad effects of too much caffeine and coffee can include:
- Anxiety – Because of the energy boost you get from caffeine it can release adrenaline in your system which can lead to higher levels of nervousness and anxiety.
- Insomnia – Because of the added adrenaline boost it can cause an increase in heart rate and will make it difficult for you to relax and go to sleep.
- High Blood Pressure – Because of the stimulating nature of caffeine, the blood flow will increase which can lead to higher blood pressure, which could lead to other problems such as heart attack or stroke.
So, my research confirms my own feelings that coffee and caffeine is fine if taken at moderate levels. That is great news, and to celebrate, I am going to pick up a latte at my favorite coffee shop!