Caffeine – friend or foe?

Caffeine is a natural stimulant which acts on your central nervous system and brain, keeping us alert and delaying tiredness. A daily intake of 400mg is believed to be safe for most healthy adults (200mg for pregnant and breastfeeding women).

Where can I find caffeine?

Caffeine can be found in many products all with varying levels:

PRODUCT PER SERVING CAFFEINE TOTAL (mg)
Espresso 240ml 240-720
Coffee 240ml 102-200
Tea 240ml 40-120
Energy Drinks 240ml 70-200
Fizzy drinks 240ml 20-40
Green Tea 240ml 35
Decaf coffee/tea 240ml
Chewing Gum 12-100
Milk Chocolate 28g 1-15
Dark Chocolate 28g 5-35
Supplements
Medications

What are the side effects of consuming caffeine?

Common side effects include:

  • increased blood pressure,

  • increased heart rate

  • heart palpitations,

  • dehydration,

  • sleeplessness,

  • headaches,

  • nausea,

  • jitters

Does it have any health benefits?

Sources, like coffee (including decaffeinated coffee), have beneficial effects:

  • high in antioxidants

  • anti-inflammatory

  • reduces the risk of neurodegenerative disease,

  • reduces the risk of some cancers

  • reduces the risk of some liver disease

  • enhances exercise performance

  • can promote hormone function like progesterone and thyroid

However, problems arise when we:

  • A

    OVERCONSUME 'caffeine' drinks throughout the day or we rely on them to boost our energy levels when we are tired, stressed or overworked.

    Keep it to 2 cups a day (240ml servings) or include some decaffeinated options.

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  • B

    Our coffees are loaded with EXTRA CALORIES- whipped cream, syrups, sugar, chocolate.

  • C

    The TIMING of consumption is also problematic.

When we wake up in the morning our liver is low in glycogen stores (stored glucose) and may have a hard time performing its many functions. So, we need to rehydrate and renourish (assuming you haven’t been snacking after dinner). Coffee on an empty stomach can deplete us further. Doing this on a regular basis pushes our bodies into a stressed state- fight or flight.

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Instead, have some breakfast (with protein) first. Food reduces caffeine’s stimulatory effect on your body, therefore supporting your metabolism, hormones, digestion, while stabilising your mood among other things.

Also, many people often consume caffeine after 12 noon.

For the average healthy person, it will take caffeine 5-6 hours to become half as strong. So, if you have a cup of coffee at 2pm, you will have 1/2 of the caffeine in your system still at 8pm. This will surely impact the quality of sleep.

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Milk chocolates, fizzy and energy drinks are loaded with sugars (some drinks containing up to 63g), additives and artificial sweeteners, with sugar-free options containing aspartame which is a known neuro toxin and disrupts the balance of your gut bacteria.

So, what do I recommend?

  • Keep within 400mg/day

  • Try some decaffeinated options

  • Have your drinks before 12noon

  • Eat with or after food to reduce its stimulatory effects

I can help you

Do you have symptoms that are wearing you down? Don’t know what to do or where to go to next? Book a FREE 15 minute chat with me. I listen, support, guide and educate you on how to improve your health and get back to being you again. You can go to my Instagram page and follow the link in my bio or simply click here.