By Nico Strydom
When hearing the word caffeine, most people immediately picture that soothing cuppa that helps you get through the day.
Caffeine is consumed by millions of people daily, among others because they are of the opinion that it helps them to wake up, combats exhaustion and improves concentration and focus.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine does much more than keeping you awake. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system that influences the body in various ways.
Where can caffeine be found?
Caffeine occurs in the seeds, nuts and leaves of a number of different plants. These include plants that are used to manufacture coffee, tea, certain cool drinks, chocolate and energy drinks. The amount of caffeine in these products can vary dramatically.
How does caffeine influence my body?
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, heart, muscles and the centres that control blood pressure. It speeds up the messages between the brain and the body. As soon as caffeine is consumed, it is taken up in the bloodstream.
Caffeine influences everyone differently on the basis of weight and health, whether the person consumes it regularly or not and the amount consumed.
The use of caffeine can result in a person feeling more awake and more active. It can also help relieve some people’s headaches. Research has also found that your short-term memory and reaction times could improve.
It can however also cause restlessness, dizziness, anxiety, irritability, accelerated breathing and heart beat, headache and a lack of concentration.
How much caffeine is too much?
According to research, it would seem that up to 400 mg caffeine per day is safe for most healthy adults. This is approximately the amount in four cups of coffee. Experts are of the opinion that children’s caffeine consumption should be restricted.
You can restrict your caffeine consumption by paying attention to the amount of caffeine you consume daily. Various products contain caffeine, so look at the list of ingredients in a certain product to establish whether it contains caffeine and how much. You could for example gradually start drinking less coffee as it will help your body to get used to the lowered amount of caffeine and could possibly minimise withdrawal symptoms.
Nowadays there are also numerous caffeine-free products available that taste the same as those that do contain caffeine.
Alcohol and drug foundation: https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/caffeine/
Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678