Caffeine Doesn’t Just Wake You Up…There are a number of things that happen in your body when you eat or drink caffeine. The effect caffeine is most known for, though, is waking you up. Caffeine performs the trick by attaching to adenosine receptors in your brain. Adenosine is responsible for slowing down your neural activity, and eventually leading you to a sleeping state. Block that chemical, and you block sleepiness. But that’s not all caffeine does. It also increases neural activity—which is one of the reasons so many people feel so alert and effective on caffeine. Studies show caffeine is a powerful drug to fight certain liver diseases and reduce asthma symptoms. While that isn’t a universal good, it’s pretty great if you’ve got those issues. Caffeine ramps up your metabolism, by breaking down and helping the body burn through fat. There’s a reason caffeine is the active ingredient in most diet pills. Caffeine also increases muscle strength, which can lead to better, stronger, or longer workouts. Some research suggests caffeine protects brain cells, lowering the risk of diseases like Parkinson’s. It also reduces inflammation in the body, which helps combat all sorts of nasty maladies, most especially heart disease. Finally, caffeine constricts the blood vessels in your brain, which can eliminate some headaches—and greatly enhances the potency of pain-relieving drugs. Indeed, lots of pain relievers have caffeine built right into their formula.
But There Can Be Too Much Of A Good ThingOne cup of coffee in the morning will bring you all these benefits. But too many people don’t stop with one. Or two, which is generally considered the limit for positive effects. After that, you cross over into negative territory relatively quickly. Caffeine, after all, also releases adrenaline into your blood. Drink too much caffeine, and you’ll feel that adrenaline as a jittery, unsettled mess. Caffeine also has a significant effect on
How To Find The Right BalanceFirst, if you like coffee, that’s not a problem at all. Just make sure you have a clean cup. Use natural, filtered water, and make your coffee with organic beans. If you don’t use organic beans, there’s no telling what else you’re getting in your morning cup of coffee. Insecticides and pesticides are only the start. Avoid the fancy drinks you’ll find in many coffee shops. Some of those have around twice the calories you’d find in a Big Mac! If you’re ordering a drink with the words ‘frozen,’ ‘mocha,’ or ‘chocolate,’ you’re probably getting way too many calories in your cup. Black is the purest way to take your coffee. But, if you don’t like the taste, you can get away with adding a (very little!) bit of raw sugar, and some organic milk or cream. Just don’t go crazy—a teaspoon of either should be plenty, if not too much. Although much of the medical literature thinks two cups of coffee a day is fine, I tell my patients to only have one. There’s caffeine in plenty of other foods and drinks, so I like to have a little wiggle room. I also always recommend you have that cup of coffee early in the day. Caffeine has a half-life of 5-6 hours, which means whatever caffeine you drink at 10 am, you’ll still have 25% of it coursing through your body when you try to go to sleep at 10 pm. The biggest short-term problem caffeine causes for the majority of the population is insomnia. Your sleep is important—don’t let decisions earlier in the day affect your sleep schedule! If you feel like you need a pick-me-up later in the day, switch to a drink with lower doses of caffeine—like tea. I recommend trying
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