Caffeine can have benefits for some, for others it can be problematic. So what is the truth about this much loved substance? Varying tolerance levels amongst people makes it difficult to provide a simple conclusion. Even small amounts of caffeine for some people can lead to very unpleasant side effects such as insomnia, heart palpitations, anxiety and irritability. Whilst for others, it improves their concentration, mood and energy levels.
For those with an anxious predisposition or who are particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine, any amount can exacerbate or lead to hyperactivity, paranoia, insomnia and irritability. Unborn infants are particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine hence why it is often recommended to limit consumption to no more than 1-2 cups a day whilst pregnant. Breast feeding mothers may also choose to minimize or avoid coffee too.
Do the benefits outweigh the risks for most?
The best answer to whether coffee is good or bad for you may be that for most people the health benefits outweigh the risks.There are a number of benefits to caffeine for those who aren’t particularly sensitive to the adverse effects of caffeine. It can act as a bronchodilator in asthma, reduce depression and even help prevent dementia and Parkinson’s disease. It is believed to help increase metabolic rate and suppress appetite.
Almost all comprehensive studies have shown no adverse effects of coffee on heart disease, cancers or longevity. In fact, most studies find an association between coffee consumption and decreased overall mortality, although this may not be true in people who drink large amounts of coffee.
How much should I drink?
The best advice for those particularly sensitive to the stimulatory effects of caffeine is to abstain or have moderate intake (1 per day) and reduce other caffeine containing foods and drinks. For those who are not sensitive to the effects of caffeine, it is important to be aware that excessive intake of coffee (four or more a day) can lead to jitteriness, hyperactivity and withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, like most things in life, moderation is key!
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