What Are The Effects Of Caffeine On The Body?

Before we can understand the effects of caffeine on the human body, we need to know exactly what caffeine is and identify the food and drink that contains caffeine.

What Is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a plant-based alkaloid, in other words it is an organic compound that comes from plants. Although caffeine is legal, it is regarded as a psychoactive drug and it stimulates our central nervous system, making you feel more energetic and alert.

Food And Drinks That Contain Caffeine

Caffeine is found in drinks and food such as: –

Coffee

Tea

Hot Chocolate

Cola (and most other soda drinks)

Energy Drinks (such as Red Bull)

Chocolate

Chocolate & Coffee flavoured foods (such as cakes and ice cream).

How Much Caffeine Should I have Each Day?

In relatively small doses (a couple of cups of coffee), caffeine should not do you too much harm. Up to around 300mg a day of caffeine (around 3 cups of coffee) is regarded as a safe amount. However it is worth remembering that certain people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. As caffeine is a stimulant, you should avoid consuming it in the evening as it may affect your sleep.

What Are The Effects Of Too Much Caffeine On The Body?

We should not forget that caffeine is a drug, and you can become addicted to it. Too much caffeine in you diet can affect your health in the following ways: –

Tremors / Jitters

Anxiety

Irritability

Headaches

Insomnia

Depression

Increased Heart Rate

This is by no means a conclusive list and people can suffer further effects form excessive caffeine.

Caffeine Addiction & Withdrawal Symptoms

Some people feel that they can not function without a couple of coffees first thing in the morning (their caffeine fix). Students regularly use caffeine when studying or cramming for exams, as do shift workers on nights. Due to the rise in popularity of energy drinks (Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar), we are now drinking more caffeine than ever before. You can now even purchase energy shot drinks which provide a strong burst of caffeine. The problem is that any energy boost or raised state of alertness will be followed by a crash (tiredness). You will also find that you will need more and more caffeine to get the same effects you first enjoyed.

Like most drugs, you should come of caffeine gradually rather than just stopping altogether. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and may last for around a week.

You can experience numerous withdrawal symptoms such as:

Headaches (Particularly a throbbing headaches around the temple)

Cravings

Fatigue

Shakes

Irritability

Cramps

Shivers

Nausea

Vomiting

Anxiety

Depression

Alternatives To Caffeine

Rather than cutting caffeine out fully and going cold turkey, start by maybe just reducing the number of coffees you drink each day and stop consuming caffeine in the six hours prior to going to bed. Start replacing your caffeine drinks with decaffeinated alternatives, Tea, Coffee and Soda’s are widely sold in decaffeinated forms.

A little caffeine in the day will not do you much harm, but if you must have caffeine then keep an eye on your consumption levels. Remember the effects of caffeine on the body and try to replace it with more natural energy sources. A good diet rich in fibre and filled with whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables will give you plenty of energy. Regular exercise will also provide an energy boost, get you fitter and help reduce your stress levels. You could also try a multi-vitamin or a natural herbal remedy (such as ginseng) to provide you with a natural high.