Coffee - the facts!

Coffee - the facts!

Are you one of those people who can’t function until they’ve had their morning coffee?  You’re not the only one!

An Australian survey found that:

  • One in four people can’t function as well without their daily coffee
  • Three out of four of us drink at least 1 cup daily

Caffeine is one of the most commonly used mild stimulants, and occurs naturally in foods, such as coffee, tea and cocoa. Caffeine levels peak blood stream in about 15–45 mins of consumption.  And the half-life of caffeine is 4 hours – (meaning it takes 4 hours to reduce by half).

Let’s take a quick look at the physiological effects of coffee and caffeine on our bodies!

The good effects:

  • Increased brain activity (cognition and alertness)
  • Production of Dopamine – the feel-good hormone
  • Coffee and tea also contain Powerful antioxidants, good for our gut, liver and cardiovascular system

What about the bad effects?

  • Caffeine causes production of adrenaline – a chemical that increases our heart and breathing rate.  In sensitive individuals, caffeine can trigger anxiety and irritability symptoms.
  • Caffeine can be related to headaches and too much can interfere with a proper night’s sleep.

So, you’re probably wondering now how much caffeine do we find in tea and coffee, and how much is too much?  

  • 1 cup instant coffee ~ 80mg caffeine
  • 1 standard shot of espresso coffee ~ 145mg
  • 1 cup of black tea or can of coke ~ 50mg

Is there an official recommended safe limit for caffeine?

Not really. Studies show increased anxiety and sleep disturbance can occur levels over 210 mg per day.  More than 400mg daily makes these side effects a lot more likely.

So, what are the take home messages about coffee here?

Firstly, sensitivity to caffeine is very individual – one person’s pick me up may be another person’s panic attack.  Listen to your body, and limit coffee if you suffer anxiety, racing heart or insomnia.

Drinking coffee in the morning is less likely to create sleep difficulties than drinking it in the afternoon.

But at the end of the day, if you enjoy coffee and it’s feel-good effects, there’s no reason to be feeling guilty about that daily cup or two.

 

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