Is Caffeine Bad for You?

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Caffeine may be the world’s most popular drug. It is cheap, easy to find and has significant effects on mood and energy. While caffeine is widely used, it is also widely questioned with regards to safety (even by users).  Below are 5 facts about caffeine and its effects on the body.

1.    Blood Pressure– Blood pressure may slightly and transiently rise with caffeine consumption. This should be of no concern to those whose blood pressure is well within the normal range. However, for hypertensive individuals, consulting your doctor is recommended prior to caffeine use.

2.    Heart Health- A recent study of over 140,000 individuals showed an 11% lower risk for heart disease in individuals who consumed 1-3 cups of coffee per day; a convenient  source of caffeine. While other chemicals occur in coffee and coffee additives (creamer, sugar, sweeteners) that may play a role in heart health, this data suggests that caffeine and/or coffee have very small beneficial effects on heart health, if any effects at all.

3.    Pregnancy and Caffeine- Caffeine use during pregnancy has not been ruled out,  due to insufficient evidence. We know there is a barrier between the mother and fetus; however, different substances can bypass this barrier; therefore, caffeine can potentially affect the fetus. It may be prudent to reduce caffeine use during pregnancy, so make sure to discuss intake levels with your doctor.

4.    Fat Loss- Spikes in metabolism from caffeine are transient and disappear with chronic use. However, increased energy levels from caffeine may allow you to workout harder; thus, indirectly boosting energy expenditure.

5.    Endurance Performance- Endurance athletes can significantly improve performance with caffeine use. While mechanisms are unclear, increased performance may be related to an increase in fat available for use as energy OR a decreased level of perceived effort resulting in more work being performed (without feeling like you’re doing more work or being in more pain).

Like MOST things in life, moderation is KEY! Research indicates that in moderate doses, caffeine has no significant negative effect on health for a healthy individual. In addition, caffeine may enhance alertness and mood, which indirectly, positively affects health. So, don’t feel bad next time you pour that cup of coffee, just don’t pour 10 cups!

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