We all acknowledge the caffeine stuff in coffee or some of us might even believe caffeine is coffee itself. This is a chance to find out what you are drinking, how much you can drink, and what does it it do for you.
Caffeine is a chemical that’s found in all kinds of plants from many places across the world. It stimulates the brain and nervous system. (Speeds up the brain and nervous system therefore a “stimulant”).
Here’s some plants they are commonly found in:
- the coffee bean from Arabia
- tea leaves from China
- kola nut from West Africa
- cocoa bean from Mexico
- ilex plant from Brazil
- Cassina tree from North America
These plants are not confined to their country of origin and can be planted anywhere in the world. The coffee from these plants are found in numerous foods and drinks such as cola beverages, coffee, tea and chocolate.
History of caffeine
The stimulant effect of caffeine has been used since the Stone Age. Tea drinking was happening in 2737 BC, coffee sipping in 1000 AD and milk chocolate in 1876.
How much caffeine does the world consume?
This will obviously depend on your everyday diet. Some people might not consume any caffeine. According to data on world caffeine consumption, 54% is from coffee and 43% is from tea and the other 3% from cola and some medicines. For most young people the most amount of caffeine consumption is from soda beverages and energy drinks.
Effects of caffeine
With small intake:
- you feel more aware & awake
- faster heart beat
- rise in blood pressure
- passing more urine
- more production of stomach acid
- feeling restless and anxious
- trouble sleeping
- can cause confusions and hallucinations
In the long term (more than 600 mg per day for a long time):
- harder to sleep
- a lot of worrying
- upset stomach
Sleep and Caffeine (caffeine before bed)
- Makes it more difficult to go to sleep
- Makes you sleep a short time
- Shortens amount of deep sleep that you have. Won’t feel rested when you awake
How much is too much?
It’s hard to say really how much because everyone has different bodies and reactions from certain foods and substances. Some seem to tolerate a lot more caffeine than others. For some people a cup of coffee will cause mild effects and 750 mg (a few energy drinks) could cause some severe effects.
If you notice any of the following reactions after consuming large amounts of caffeine you may want to reduce intake level.
- irregular fast heart beat
Researchers say that there is hardly any risk for people who consume less than 600 mg a day. If you are under stress, pregnant, or suffer from anxiety, then you should have less than 200mg per day.
Caffeine and pregnancy
Research has been done on the risk of having caffeine while pregnant, and it seems that having a normal amount of caffeine while pregnant, does not harm a baby. However, a large intake of coffee will make it more difficult to get pregnant and develop a higher risk of miscarriage.
- Guarana is the name of a plant in South America and contains guaranine, which is just like caffeine.
- Each bean contains 3 times more caffeine than a coffee bean does.
- Drinks with guarana inside usually have a lot and the effects are the same as drinking a lot of caffeine.
Caffeine for Exams and Tests
Usually a small amount of caffeine (one cup of coffee or tea) helps many people perform better than having no coffee at all. It’s been shown that people who have a cup at the start of day, cannot perform well if they miss that morning caffeine.
A high amount of caffeine intake may make someone feel more awake or help them falling from sleep, but there is no real improvement in overall performance. Actually the anxious side effect from the caffeine can make them do worse than usual.
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre Fact sheet ‘Caffeine’