Nutrition

Caffeine, good, bad or overused

By 27th August 2020 No Comments

For most coffee has become a love affair that has all the usual highs and lows of any great love story. Aromatic smells greet the nation in kitchens and coffee shops across the world every morning. In densely populated areas coffee is booming with such success you can have two coffee shops of the same brand facing each other on opposite sides of the road.

Where did this little power cherry come from? Common history online seems to indicate it comes from Ethiopia and was discovered by a farmer who’s goats were eating berries and not sleeping with an abundance of energy. Fast forward a few hundred years and now we have one of the biggest industries in modern social society.

Coffee has been in our nation for many years but used to only feature commonly as instant coffee, with the increase in popularity it is increasingly more common for your latte or flat white to originate from freshly ground beans instead of the old favourite instant.

Let us take a second too think a little about what this evolution means for the adored cup of coffee, how does its high street transformation effect us devote disciples?

The strength difference between instant and freshly ground for an average drink has jumped from 60 – 80 mg to 80 – 120mg. For some this could be double the amount of caffeine for what seems the same amount of coffee. An even more impressive jump is seen when you slurp down one of the large major brand coffees. In the giant size  cups you will find  up to 300 mg of caffeine in one drink! 5 times the amount from the old humble cup of instant coffee. For an average person you would not want to exceed much past 400 mg before adverse health effects may begin.

With such high doses of caffeine per cup it can become very easy to surpass 400 mg in a busy working day with just 2 modern day cups of coffee. We then add the milks, syrups and sugars and suddenly you have a drink with enough caffeine to keep you awake for 2 days and a sugar supply to terrify your personal trainer when you add up your macros.

It’s clear to see coffee has metamorphosed into something different to its original self.  With its evolution of look, flavour and style it has become the new modern day power drink that everyone loves. Coffee based products have managed to penetrate almost all ages and social groups in society which is difficult for most drinks and brands to do for numerous reasons.

The first thing to understand about caffeine is how quick it metabolises in the body, for some it will have an effect for up to 9 hours. That means the caffeine consumed on your break around lunch time can still have an effect when you are rolling around in bed wondering why you can’t sleep. Many factors effect the rate at which your body uses and eliminates it.   

What are some of the positive and negative side effects to consuming coffee?

Positives

  • Increased awareness and mental clarity
  • In some cases endurance and performance increase in athletes
  • Helps fight fatigue and tiredness
  • In some short term does can help fat burning.
  • Stimulate the production of glucose

There are a list of other health benefits that are being associated to drinking coffee but many of these have little valid research to confirm these claims.

Negatives

  • Anxiety and in severe cases panic attacks can be triggered by caffeine
  • Insomnia like symptoms and waking throughout sleep
  • Loss of appetite and ability to eat whole meals
  • Craving sugary foods
  • Caffeine addiction
  • In chronic use of caffeine inability to loss fat
  • Gastrointestinal dysfunctions (stomach and bowel problems)

How does caffeine work in the body?

Caffeine is a very powerful stimulant and for this part of the conversation all variations are included in this section. There are different sources of caffeine and different ways to manufacture and sell it. Each variation changes how it can be experienced by the consumer.

Caffeine effects the neuroendocrineimmune system. This fancy word can be broken down into 3 sections 1st, is the neurological part to the body which runs brain function, 2nd the endocrine system, the system that governs your hormonal function and levels. Finally finishing with the immune-system, the part of the body that protects you from viruses and bacterial infections plus many other nasty things.

To discuss the 3 areas in depth is too vast for the purpose of this article. The key points to take away are that in appropriate doses for certain people it can have beneficial properties such as lifting peoples mood and alertness via its effects on serotonin, GABA and acetylcholine sensitivity.

Via the HPA axis (hypothalamic, pituitary, adrenal glands) it can increase adrenaline and cortisol levels which can lead to an increase in heart rate, glucose (energy) production and  blood pressure. These hormones are also responsible for stimulating mental alertness and energy.

The downsides are if the 3 systems full out of sync for a complex array of biochemical reasons the results can flip from sunshine and roses to dark stormy clouds. You may become insulin resistant, pre disposing you to type 2 diabetes, your immune system can become inhibited, kind of like being switched off or on to a low setting, increasing the chance of sickness and disease. Finally with any form of mild addiction that effects the brain your cognitive function can be impeded or may diminishes.

Not fun stuff at all!

Here is what we recommend

For the average person 1 – 2 cups of smaller sized servings of coffee at the beginning of the day with ideally food will generally give the more positive effects of caffeine. That said research is still not sufficient to decide on how chronic consumption even at a low level will effect the neuroendocrineimmune as individual systems or as a greater combined system.

We would advise if you start to experience any of the above negative side effects reduce your consumption in portion size and total volume per day and see what happens over several weeks. For sever cases remove coffee for 2 – 3 months to allow your bodily functions to find a homeostatic (Bodies internal balance) balance with out the addition of caffeine.

If you are suffering with a server medical condition which is effected by any of the 3 systems look to quit coffee all together.

 

We hope you enjoyed the article.

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