Caffeine: The Good, the Bad, and the Facts
The argument over the use of caffeine has been never ending in the fitness media! So, the question remains, is your morning cup of coffee killing you?
Let’s start with the facts. Caffeine is a crystalline compound found especially in tea and coffee plants, which acts as a stimulant of the CNS (central nervous system) and a vasoconstrictor (decreased circumference of blood vessels). Caffeine is also found in a wide range of natural foods such as kola nuts and cocoa beans. In the increased market for caffeine, it has also become a common additive in popular food and drink products including energy drinks, sodas and snack bars.
Due to the stimulant effect of caffeine, consumption may cause increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure and frequent urination. Some studies have argued that these symptoms put your body at a higher risk of several medical issues including heart disease, osteoporosis and dehydration. Where does this argument come from?
Heart disease is a broad term that incorporates most health related issues involving the heart itself. Often, these heart issues stem from the heart being strained over time through excessive stress or from narrowed blood passages. Both excessive stress and narrowed blood passages typically occur in the body due to an unhealthy lifestyle, such as a poor diet or overworking. These heart related disease symptoms occur from damaging the cardiovascular system over time. Although caffeine does increase heart rate and blood pressure, it is only for a temporary time period and has not been proven to increase risk of heart disease.
Osteoporosis is an overall weakening of the bones. It has been proven that caffeine consumption may increase the loss of calcium and magnesium through the urine. When your body begins to lack calcium, it will compensate by pulling calcium deposits from the bones, causing weakness and increased risk of fractures. This loss of calcium from caffeine consumption can be offset by simply adding two tablespoons of milk per cup of coffee consumed. The only studies currently showing proof of osteoporosis caused by caffeine were found using older adults. As we age, our bodies become more sensitive to caffeine and therefore should be limited later in life.
Dehydration. It is true that caffeine does increase the need to urinate, but don’t you have to drink something to consume caffeine? YES! On average, the fluid consumed in a caffeinated beverage has been proven to off set the fluid loss from the increased urination.
In conclusion, caffeine does increase heart rate temporarily. It does increase blood pressure and it does increase urination. However, there are no supporting studies proving that regular caffeine consumption will put you at an increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis or dehydration!
Benefits of Caffeine
- Increased mental alertness
- Headache relief
- Post workout muscle pain relief
- Increased reaction time
- Improved physical performance
Disadvantages of Caffeine
- Increased risk of insomnia
- Increased risk of feels of anxiety
- Increased sugar consumption (in some cases)
- Decreased blood flow to extremities
- Increased risk of indigestion
Ackermann, Guessous, Ponte, and Pruijm,M. “Associations of ambulatory blood pressure with urinary caffeine and caffeine metabolite excretions.” PUBMED. Mar 2015. 21 Aug 2015
“Caffeine.” WebMD.com. Theraputic research facility. 2009. 20 Aug 2015
Department of Anesthesiology, PUMC Hospital. “Regulatory effect of caffeine on the acute and the chronic pain and its possible mechanisms.” PUBMED. Dec 2014. 20 Aug 2015