The Truth About Caffeine
For many, one of life’s greatest – and simplest – pleasures is enjoying a good cup of coffee. Because it contains caffeine, which stimulates the central nervous system, coffee can help get you going on a cold workday morning and keep you alert through an all-night study session. But, it seems like every other day there’s a new study out on how caffeine can affect your health – and the messages are often inconsistent. So, is caffeine good or bad for you? Here’s the lowdown on some common misconceptions:
- Myth: It’s addictive. Truth: Caffeine is a drug, and its regular use can result in mild physical dependence. If you suddenly stop consuming caffeine, you may experience a few days of withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, irritability, fatigue, and difficulties concentrating. However, most experts do not consider caffeine dependence to be a serious addiction.
- Myth: It will interfere with your sleep. Truth: The human body both absorbs and eliminates caffeine quickly, with most of it usually gone within eight to ten hours. Therefore, it’s unlikely that a few cups of coffee in the morning will disrupt your sleep at night. On the other hand, if you consume coffee later in the day – roughly within six hours of bedtime – you may experience insomnia that evening.
- Myth: It will increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Truth: Caffeine can cause a slight, temporary elevation in the blood pressure and heart rate of individuals who are especially sensitive to its effects. Nevertheless, several important studies have found no link between caffeine and cardiovascular disease. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure or a heart condition, you should talk with your doctor before consuming caffeine.
- Myth: It will dehydrate you. Truth: Caffeine is a mild diuretic and can make you need to urinate, but the fluid you consume will usually offset any fluid floss. When consumed in moderation, caffeine should not cause dehydration.
- Myth: It is harmful to children. Truth: Some kids are sensitive to caffeine and may temporarily become irritable or anxious after consuming it, followed by a “crash” later on. In general, though, caffeine itself is not harmful to children. Rather, it is the sugary sodas, sweetened teas, and empty-calorie energy drinks – the sources of most of the caffeine consumed by kids – that can elevate the risk of obesity and other health conditions in children.
Caffeine actually may have a few health and wellness-related benefits. For instance, many regular coffee drinkers maintain that caffeine improves their energy, concentration, alertness, and even sociability, and there is scientific evidence to back up these claims. Additionally, some studies suggest that caffeine consumption may reduce the risk of liver disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. With regard to caffeine consumption, as with most anything else, most experts agree that moderation is key.
At South Tampa Immediate Care, our experienced medical staff is available to address your questions related to health, wellness, and nutrition. Our walk-in clinic is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and weekends, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we do not require appointments.