“What makes creative people tingle are interesting problems, the chance to impress their friends, and caffeine.” Alex Steffen
The American futurist and author knows the pulse of the world. He has aptly summed up that caffeine is an energizer and a stimulant which gets our creative juices flowing. South India is famous for its filter coffee and no wonder that the region has produced popular leaders and creative artistes. With globalization, coffee and its derivatives have spread to every nook and corner of the country.
Let’s demystify the main stimulant found in coffee, mocha’s and lattes. Let’s delve deep into a tall frothy mug of cappuccino and understand how caffeine can be good for our health
What is Caffeine?
- It is proven that a cup of hot coffee can help uplift your senses and refresh you. This quality of coffee can be attributed to the presence of caffeine, which is a central nervous stimulant.
- Caffeine is basically a bitter white crystalline alkaloid. It is a stimulant drug that is found in varying amounts in the seeds, leaves and fruits of some plants.
- Caffeine is most commonly consumed in the form of tea, coffee, soft drinks and energy drinks.
- It is widely consumed in the form of infusions extracted from seeds of the coffee plant and leaves of the tea bush.
- Other sources include edibles containing products derived from the kola nut.
- Caffeine is often considered a harmful drug as it can be addictive. Taking it in the right dose can have positive effects on your health.
- Using caffeine causes an improvement in sports performance, increases alertness and reduces fatigue.
- It can temporarily ward off drowsiness and lift up your mood. Hence, unlike other psychoactive substances, caffeine is legal and unregulated in almost all parts of the world.
Benefits Of Caffeine For Health
A question that everybody has in mind is whether caffeine is good for health. The amount of caffeine contained in two to four cups of coffee a day is not harmful. However, excess caffeine intake can make you feel restless, irritable and anxious. Some people are sensitive to caffeine, and they need to restrict their intake. Taking caffeine in the right doses can provide the following health benefits.
1. Good For Liver
Caffeine, when taken in the form of caffeine enema, detoxifies your liver and cleanses the colon. A study at Duke University has proved that caffeine may reduce fatty liver in those suffering from non-alcohol related fatty liver disease.
2. Reduces The Risk Of Diabetes
Research says that drinking 5 cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of developing diabetes. This is primarily because of the presence of high level of disease-fighting antioxidants. Drinking sugar-free coffee daily can make you less likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes.
3. Sharpens Your Brain
Caffeine is good for your brain. It causes the release of dopamine, the brain chemical that stimulates the area of gray matter. This again is responsible for alertness, problem solving and pressure, thus making your brain active and sharper.
A research at Harvard has proven that people who drink four cups of caffeinated coffee are half as likely to suffer from Parkinson’s disease in comparison to others. This is primarily because caffeine keeps dopamine molecules active. It also blocks adenosine that may slow down the build-up of amyloid-beta, a toxic brain plaque that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Cardiovascular Health
Caffeine constricts your arteries by infiltrating the receptors that line the blood vessel walls. This causes your blood pressure to rise. However, this is a problem with non-habitual drinkers. The effect on blood pressure tends to be much smaller on habitual coffee drinkers as their bodies are somewhat tolerant to their effects.
In fact, research at Brooklyn College has found that men who drank 4 cups of caffeinated coffee daily are less likely to suffer from heart disease than those who never took a sip. Drinking coffee has been found to reduce the risk of stroke by 22%.
5. Aids In Weight Loss
Drinking caffeinated coffee can help in weight loss. Regular drinkers often report a decrease in appetite, resulting in weight loss.
6. Eye Health
Caffeine protects against eyelid spasm and may provide protection against cataracts.
7. Anti-Cancer Properties
Caffeine can reduce the risk of developing cancer. It also delays the onset of average cancer. Caffeinated coffee reduces the risk of mouth and throat cancer by 50%. It may also prevent skin cancer.
8. Improves Muscle Performance And Stamina
Caffeine slightly increases your heart and breathing rate by stimulating your nervous system. This prepares your body for peak performance.
Caffeine facilitates muscle contraction. It blocks the adenosine receptors attached to muscle fibers. This triggers electrical activity that prompts bigger bursts of calcium.
Research has proven that consuming 140 to 400 mg of caffeine 30 to 60 minutes before exercising can improve both speed and endurance. This will make your workout easier.
Caffeine, when mixed with carbs, can replenish muscle glycogen concentrations faster after exercise. Hence, caffeine is often used in energy drinks to increase stamina.
9. Treatment Of Migraine And Headaches
Caffeine may increase the effectiveness of gastrointestinal uptake of painkillers. Hence, it is beneficial for patients with migraine and headache medications.
10. Improves Memory
Caffeine increases the level of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. This is associated with attention, concentration, learning and memory. Hence, it has a positive effect on memory and cognitive function.
Benefits Of Caffeine For Skin
Caffeine is increasingly being used in skincare. Besides boosting your mood, it can improve your skin as well. Cosmetic companies are incorporating caffeine in their range of skincare products. Incorporating caffeine in your skincare routine can provide you with an even toned and smooth skin. Some of its skincare benefits are as follows.
11. Fights Free Radicals
Free radicals are responsible for causing premature skin aging. This results in the appearance of wrinkles, sun spots and loss of elasticity. The antioxidants contained in caffeine can attack these free radicals and eliminate them. This will improve the overall look of your skin. For this reason, caffeine is widely used in anti-ageing day and night creams in conjunction with retinol.
12. Soothes Inflammation
Caffeine possesses anti-inflammatory properties that make it effective in reducing inflammation and redness in your skin. It is often used as an ingredient in anti-inflammatory creams to enhance their effectiveness. Using caffeine in skincare products can reduce and prevent inflammation and redness and give you beautiful, even skin tone.
13. Treatment of Under Eye Dark Circles
Under eye dark circles can be caused by various factors such as dehydration, allergies, lack of sleep or genetics.
Caffeine cannot cure hereditary dark circles. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it beneficial in reducing puffiness and inflammation associated with dark circles.
Caffeine also reduces the accumulation of blood under your eyes which contributes to dark shadows.
Eye creams meant to erase dark circles contain caffeine. Tea leaves contain caffeine. So you can apply moist tea bags under your eyes for 5 minutes to reduce dark circles and puffiness.
14. Reduces Cellulite
Caffeine present in skin care products can dehydrate fatty cells. This results in the water disappearing from the surface of your skin. This minimizes the appearance of cellulite, thus providing you with a smoother skin.
Research at the University of Sao Paulo has proven that the application of skin cream containing caffeine reduced the size of cellulite fat cells by 17%. A number of anti-cellulite creams are available that can decrease the appearance of cellulite. Another way to use caffeine is to add ground or instant coffee to regular body scrub at home.
15. Treatment Of Rosaceae
Caffeine constricts blood vessels to reduce redness. This makes it an ideal treatment for facial flushing and rosaceae. When applied topically, caffeine works as a diuretic, aids in circulation and is also a powerful antioxidant. Thus, it has the ability to calm irritated and reddened skin caused by sun damage and rosaceae.
16. Repairs UV Damage
Studies have indicated that caffeine may also repair the skin damage caused by exposure to UV rays. It is considered a stronger antioxidant than the polyphenols contained in green tea. In fact, it is among the best and strongest antioxidants to combat UV damage.
17. Tightens Skin
Another added benefit of caffeine is that its topical use can tighten fine lines and smooth puffy skin. Caffeine used in creams is absorbed by your skin to firm and tighten its appearance. It also inhibits the growth of skin cancer cells. Beauty products often include caffeine as it can provide you with a flawless appearance.
Benefits Of Caffeine For Hair
The length and quality of your hair depend on the health of your hair follicles and hair growth cycle. Caffeine stimulates not only your body and mind, but also your hair roots. It is often used as an ingredient in shampoos and other hair care products to improve hair growth and structure. It has the following hair benefits.
18. Treatment Of Hair Loss
Men often experience hair loss due to the effects of the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which affects susceptible hair follicles. Consequently, these follicles become smaller and finally disappear, causing baldness. This process, known as miniaturization of the hair follicles, adversely affects the growth phases of hair.
Caffeine, when applied topically, penetrates into the hair roots and stimulates them. Besides preventing male baldness and hair loss, it stimulates the hair roots in the scalps of women and triggers stronger hair growth.
For caffeine to be effective, allow the caffeine-containing shampoo to stay on your scalp for two minutes so that it can penetrate the hair roots.
19. Stimulates Hair Growth
Caffeine is considered a stimulant for hair follicles. Research by the International Journal of Dermatology indicated that topical treatment with caffeine resulted in the increase in average growth of hair follicles by around 46%. It also extended its life cycle by 33%. This is because caffeine can block the effect of DHT, which damages the hair follicles and is responsible for causing male pattern baldness.
20. Makes Hair Manageable
Besides strengthening the hair shaft, caffeine products add natural shine to your hair and make them more manageable.
Caffeine can provide various benefits for your skin, hair and health. However, this is only possible with the right dosage of caffeine. Excessive intake of caffeine has been reported to cause adverse effects on your health. Moreover, some individuals are sensitive to caffeine, and they are required to restrict its consumption or completely avoid it.
Increased consumption can also cause dependence due to increased tolerance, and you require greater amounts of caffeine to obtain the same stimulatory benefits. Given below are the negative effects associated with excess consumption of caffeine.
- Consumption of more than 500 to 600 milligrams of caffeine per day can make you prone to health problems like insomnia, nervousness, nausea, gastrointestinal problems, elevated heartbeat, headaches and migraines, etc.
- It increases blood pressure in those who are not habituated to it, thereby increasing the risk of strokes and cerebral vascular disease.
- Regular consumption can make you addicted to it, and withdrawal can cause headache, fatigue, and decreased alertness.
- Excessive consumption of caffeinated coffee is associated with the decrease in bone mineral density, which can cause osteoporosis.
- Daily consumption of caffeine causes an increase in blood sugar levels, thus causing problems for diabetic patients.
- Caffeine can worsen the condition of insomnia. It often interferes with deep sleep, which can cause fatigue during the day.
- Being a diuretic, it is likely to cause dehydration.
- It contributes to bone loss at the spine in elderly postmenopausal women.
- High doses of caffeine can cause anxiety.
- It adversely affects the control of fine muscular movements such as causing the hands to shake.
- Excess consumption of caffeine increases the likelihood of experiencing auditory hallucinations.
[Read:Side Effects Of Caffeine]
Myth About Caffeine
1. Caffeine Is Addictive
It is true to some extent as caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, so regular use of caffeine makes your body dependent on it. Other drugs may threaten your physical, social or economic health but caffeine doesn’t do so. If you take coffee more than two cups a day, and you stop taking caffeine suddenly, then the following symptoms are going to happen with you:
2. Caffeine Causes Insomnia
The body quickly absorbs and gets rid of caffeine quickly. The more you take coffee, the more you are deprived of sleep. If you take more than two cups of coffee, tea or green tea per day, then you feel alert throughout the day. Consuming caffeine after 8 pm is definitely going to hinder your sleep. One person must sleep for at least six hours for a healthy mind and body, so avoid taking coffee later in the day.
3. Caffeine Is Harmful For Women Trying To Get Pregnant
Many studies show there is no link between a small amount of caffeine and cases like miscarriage, birth defects, trouble in conceiving, premature birth, etc. If one take less than or equal to 200 mg caffeine per day it would not affect the pregnancy.
4. Caffeine Has A Dehydrating Effect
Caffeine can make you urinate frequently. Studies show that caffeine act as a mild diuretic, but taking a moderate amount of caffeine per day doesn’t cause dehydration.
5. Caffeine Has No Health Benefits
caffeine have few health benefits. Any regular coffee drinker improves his/her alertness and concentration.
Recommended Intake Of Caffeine
In order to reap the benefits of caffeine and minimize its negative effects, it is important to ingest the right dosage. The recommended safe level of consumption of caffeine per day is 500 mg. It’s lesser for those with heart conditions, high blood pressure and pregnant women. On an average, a cup of instant coffee contains between 80 to 100 mg of caffeine. The stronger the coffee, the higher is the caffeine content. Tea has comparatively lesser amounts of caffeine unless it is very strongly brewed.
So go ahead and grab that cup of joy and savor its health benefits.