I love the concept of bio-individuality. It stresses that each person’s body is different and that what might feel good for one person may not for another. Caffeine is one of those things that has both positive and negative effects on the body. Only you can decide if caffeine is something you want to incorporate into your diet. I personally avoid it, but you should make an educated decision about what feels right for you. Here are some perks and quirks of caffeine to consider when making your decision.
Ten Perks of Caffeine
- Alertness: Even in relatively low doses of 250 milligrams, caffeine has been shown to stimulate alertness and improve mental performance.
- Mood: At 250 milligrams, some report an improved sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability.
- Concentration: Studies suggest that caffeine can help you perform a variety of cognitive tasks, such as recognizing visual patterns, more quickly.
- Performance: Some sources note that caffeine allows athletes to exercise for longer durations without hitting exhaustion. Although the mechanism is not yet known, caffeine affects the utilization of glycogen during workouts. Glycogen is the main fuel for muscles. Once depleted, exhaustion occurs. Caffeine decreases the use of glycogen stores during workouts up to 50 percent – allowing for longer workouts.
- Reduced Muscle Pain: Some researchers have found that caffeine may potentially stimulate the release of B-endorphins and hormones that depress the sensation of pain or discomfort.
- Faster Effects of Medication: Caffeine constricts blood vessels and helps the body absorb medications more quickly, which is why it is added to some pain medications.
- Diabetes Prevention: Coffee contains minerals and antioxidants which help prevent diabetes. Frank Hu, M.D., one of the authors of The Harvard Study, theorizes it may be because caffeine stimulates muscles to burn fat and sugar more efficiently.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants in caffeine help to stabilize free radicals and stop them from doing damage. If a free radical is formed in a cell and it is not neutralized, it can damage the DNA of the cell.
- Disease Prevention: Caffeine keeps dopamine molecules active, preventing diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Harvard researchers have found that men who drink four cups of caffeinated coffee a day are half as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease as those who refrain from consuming caffeinated beverages.
- Asthma Relief: Drinking a moderate amount of caffeine can be therapeutic for people with asthma. Caffeine in the form of coffee may be used to prevent an asthma attack in emergency cases, but is not intended to replace medication.
Ten Quirks of Caffeine
- Cardiovascular Problems: Approximately 4 cups of coffee or a beverage with equivalent amounts of caffeine can raise blood pressure for many hours. The measured blood pressure levels are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Stress: Caffeine consumption in the early morning affects the body until bedtime, amplifying stress levels throughout the day. Caffeine increases stress hormones and elevates one’s perception of stress. Decreasing coffee and caffeinated beverages will help to lower often exaggerated stress-reactions.
- Emotional Disturbances: When more than 2g of caffeine enters the body, the heart becomes stimulated and blood vessels dilate. Shortly after, blood pressure increases, causing bronchial relaxation in the lungs and increased breathing. These physiological reactions tend to cause irritability, restlessness, insomnia, and agitation.
- Blood Sugar Swings: Type 2 diabetics should be aware that caffeine may potentially impair insulin’s action, causing a detectable rise in blood sugar levels. Approximately 2 to 2 ½ cups per day may cause this effect.
- Gastrointestinal Problems: Because it is a stimulant, caffeine can cause increased contractions of stomach muscles – possibly causing abdominal pain, diarrhea, and increased bowel movements. Those who have irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or colitis may want to be extra cautious before choosing caffeinated beverages.
- Nutritional Deficiencies: Caffeine inhibits the absorption of some nutrients and causes the urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and trace minerals.
- Male Health Problems: Research shows that men can significantly reduce their risk for urinary and prostate problems by making dietary changes, which include eliminating coffee and caffeine.
- Female Health Problems: Fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, osteoporosis, infertility problems, miscarriage, low birth weight and menopausal problems such as hot flashes are all exacerbated by caffeine consumption. Women on birth control pills are particularly at risk since they tend to have a decreased ability to detoxify caffeine.
- Aging: Caffeine tolerance may decrease with age. Production of DHEA, melatonin and other vital hormones decline with age. Caffeine helps to speed up this process. Caffeine also dehydrates the body, contributes to aging of the skin and kidneys, inhibits DNA repair and slows the ability of the liver to detoxify foreign toxins.
- Adrenal Exhaustion: Caffeine is a stimulant which binds to adenosine receptors in the brain. This leads to a range of complex reactions which causes an increase of stimulation at the adrenal glands. This can increase vulnerability to a variety of health disorders related to inflammation and fatigue.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only. The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional. You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.
 Zwyghuizen-Doorenbos A, Roehrs TA, Lipschutz L, Timms V, Roth T. Effects of caffeine on alertness. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1990;100(1):36-9.
 Merideth A. Addicott and Paul J. Laurienti. A comparison of the effects of caffeine following abstinence and normal caffeine use. Psychopharmacology (Berl). Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 December 1
 “Caffeine – How much is too much?.” MayoClinic. N.p., 3 Nov 2010. Web. 22 Dec 2011.
 “Caffeine – How much is too much?.” Rice University. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Dec 2011.
 Jennifer, Warner. “Caffeine may ease workout pain and soreness.” WebMD. N.p., 17 Jan 2007. Web. 22 Dec 2011. <http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20070117/caffeine-may-ease-workout-pain>.
 Boyles, Salynn. “Is Caffeine bad for your heart?.” WebMD. N.p., 01 Aug 2002. Web. 22 Dec 2011.
 “Caffeine’s Effects are Long-Lasting and Compound Stress.” DukeHealth. Duke University Health Systems, 03 Nov 2004. Web. 22 Dec 2011.
 Kassem, Noreen. “Emotional effects of caffeine.” Livestrong. N.p., 24 Nov 2010. Web. 22 Dec 2011.
 Collazo-Clavell, Maria. “Caffeine: Does it affect blood sugar?.” MayoClinic. N.p., 03 Feb 2010. Web. 22 Dec 2011.
 McLaughlin, August. “Caffeine and Gastrointestinal Problems.” Livestrong. N.p., 13 Jun 2011. Web. 22 Dec 2011.
 “Coffee and Prostate Health: Is it Bad for You?.” Web BPH. N.p., 02 Mar 2011. Web. 22 Dec 2011.
 “Caffeine & Women’s Health.” Food Insight. N.p., 15 Oct 2009. Web. 22 Dec 2011.
 MacDougall, Caroline. “Caffeine, Stress & Aging.” Healthy.net. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Dec 2011.
 Doyle, Marek. “Caffeine, Stress & Aging.” Healthy.net. N.p., 3 Nov 2010. Web. 22 Dec 2011.