“I don’t have a problem with caffeine. I have a problem without it!”
– Slogan on tee shirt
The caffeine culture
Most young people today rely more on fast foods, chocolates, and energy-and-soft drinks rather than a traditional dal-roti-sabzi diet. Just imagine one day without a cup of tea or caffeinated soft drink! The very thought will leave many running for a caffeinated beverage right away!
Soft drinks and energy drinks contain caffeine – a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that is naturally produced in the leaves and seeds of particular plants. Caffeine has a retention time of about 29 minutes and a maximum UV absorbance at 273 nm (nanometers). Soft drinks normally constitute about 10 to 50 milligrams of caffeine per serving. Energy drinks typically contain 80 or more mg of caffeine per serving. Caffeine acts to simulate one’s central nervous, respiratory and cardiac system giving a sudden thrust in energy. It also elevates your mood, if a bit dampened. It’s effects stay up to some six hours after its intake.
Benefits of Caffeine
In small amounts, caffeine can have benefits for you:
- Good for weight loss: It improves the body’s metabolism by breaking down fat, freeing fatty acids.
- Medicinal benefits: It is present in some bottles of aspirin due to which the power of medication boosts.
- Boosts energy: It helps you elevate your energy level and energizes you, relieving your mood.
- Clears the mind: Caffeine can trigger your mind. It gives your mind the required boost and helps one wake up in the morning.
- Prevents disease: Studies show that regular caffeine drinkers are at a lower risk for Parkinson’s disease, colon cancer and cirrhosis.
Drawbacks of Caffeine
Indulge in too much caffeine and you’re in for trouble:
- Vagueness in vision: To much caffeine causes blurred vision.
- Chest pain: If a person is already suffering from heart problems, he or she may experience chest pain problem after consuming caffeine.
- High blood pressure: Caffeine causes diseases like hypertension and those suffering from it should avoid it.
- Acidity and heartburn: This a frequent complaint of people who drink too much coffee, especially on an empty stomach.
- Nutritional vexations: If coffee is consumed before or after consuming something with a high nutritional content then your body may not get its entire benefit, taking in only 60 percent of the nutrition. Caffeine is also known to weaken bones and lead to osteoporosis.
- Jittery feelings: This is one of the most common side-effects of too much caffeine consumption – jittery feelings where one cannot stay focussed or sit still for some time.
- Sleep and other disturbances: Caffeine leads to either sleepless nights or drowsiness in some people. High doses of it cause anxiety, dizziness, headaches, etc. Though it is sometimes used for treating migraine headaches, it can make headaches worse for some people. Too much caffeine may also cause a person to urinate in large amounts.
- Stained teeth: Brown or yellow stains on the teeth are often seen on habitual coffee drinkers.
The world is so used to consuming caffeine that leaving it abruptly can be quite impossible. Withdrawal symptoms like tiredness, irritability, and headaches may develop as its consequence. So try moderating the amount you consume. Experts consider 200-300 mg of caffeine per day to be a moderate quantity for adults.
Image attribution: By Pierre Camateros (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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