Caffeine consumption is so widespread in society that it’s something we all find ourselves doing rather mindlessly until we encounter a problem, that is.
It’s not easy to accurately track our intake of this stuff, either. There are countless ways to make a cup of coffee, for example, but caffeine can be found lurking everywhere.
Even ignoring the obvious culprits like highly caffeinated energy drinks, you’ll find this pick-me-up hiding away in many other common products, from sodas to chocolate bars, to diet pills, and more.
I don’t think you’re completely out of the woods if you stick to decaf coffee either!
A residual amount of caffeine remains in this stuff, just not enough to trigger a response at low levels. Drink enough of it, though, and you’ll definitely feel an impact.
With all this in mind, it’s never been more important to understand exactly where your caffeine consumption is occurring and how it might be affecting you.
We’ve outlined the pros and cons of consuming this stuff and provided a few tips to help you stay on the right side of the wrong effects as well.
Pros of Coffee Consumption
Let’s start with the upsides. What are the positive effects of caffeine on the body?
a) Mental Boost
We’re all familiar with the increased alert levels that come shortly after drinking a bold cup of coffee.
Caffeine has a powerful memory-boosting effect, which is particularly pronounced when it comes to your short-term memory.
Caffeine also increases our alertness levels, our ability to concentrate on a task in front of us, and our general mental function.
It’s no surprise, then, that a cup of coffee is often the first thing we reach for when we find work and study deadlines creeping ever closer!
b) Health & Wellbeing
Although caffeine can have negative effects on the human body, as an antioxidant, it plays a useful role in protecting our cells from damage.
We shouldn’t underestimate the social benefits, either.
As difficult as 2020’s been for meeting up with friends & family, those rare coffee shop meet-ups have never been more important for our emotional wellbeing.
Cons of Coffee Consumption
Even if you have a high tolerance for caffeine, we’ve all taken our eye off the ball and overdone it from time to time.
If you’re feeling anxious or on-edge and you’re prone to drinking a lot of caffeine, it might be time to cut back a little.
Coffee, in particular, is such a common part of our daily routine that it’s easy to forget it might be making a bad situation worse.
b) Heart health
The jury’s out on the fine detail, but there is some evidence that excessive caffeine use over a long period of time can increase the risk of heart disease.
Caffeine naturally increases blood pressure as part of its energy-boosting effects too. If you’ve been advised to take steps to reduce your blood pressure, cutting down on caffeine is crucial.
We all know how caffeine can negatively impact our sleep. If that wasn’t the case, it wouldn’t be such a dependable ally when we need to pull an all-nighter!
How to control your caffeine consumption?
It’s perfectly possible to enjoy the benefits of caffeine without falling victim to its downsides.
Here are some tips that will help you control your caffeine consumption.
a) Jilt the jitters
It’s very easy to absent-mindedly reach for that next cup of coffee and find yourself with a bad case of the coffee jitters later on.
It can take up to 45 minutes for the full effects of caffeine to kick in. Once inside your system, though, it can take up to ten hours to fully wear off.
Drink one cup after another, and by the time the worst of the effects occurs, there’s more coming just around the corner.
There are a few things you can do to deal with this problem:
- Avoiding ingesting caffeine on an empty stomach. Resist the temptation to drink your espresso ahead of your breakfast in particular. With a full stomach of food inside you, the effects of the caffeine you drink will be less pronounced in general.
- Drink more water. This will reduce the dehydrating effects of caffeine and help flush it out of your body. You’ll be less likely to reach for another cup of joe too, and just because you’re thirsty.
- Exercise. There’s no magic pill for fixing a caffeine overdose, but just getting up and walking around will do wonders for speeding up your metabolism.
This is a problem that can easily sneak up on you if you’re not careful.
We all have a bad night’s sleep from time to time, but if you lean on caffeine to get you through the following day, you might just be setting yourself up for another rough evening.
If you’re struggling to sleep at night, and you want to eliminate caffeine as a possible cause, stop drinking it at least six hours before your usual bed routine.
Otherwise, you run the risk of setting up a vicious cycle. What gets you through the day will work against you at night.
Read the label
If you’re purposefully cutting down on your caffeine intake, don’t just think ditching a few drinks each day will get the job done.
We should all get into the habit of checking our food packaging more closely, but make sure you’re not sneaking in an unexpected dose of caffeine by the back door!
Hopefully, you’ve now got a much better understanding of the ups and downs of caffeine consumption.
If you’ve started feeling more of the negative than positive effects of this powerful stimulant, try those tips out. Sometimes a little bit of adjustment is all that’s needed.