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The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: Benefits vs Side Effects Of Caffeine In The Body

2 April 2017, 11:17 pm EDT By Arrianne Del Rosario Tech Times
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That iced coffee you are drinking may contain human poo
The world’s strongest coffee has just been named. Here’s what you need to know about coffee and caffeine: health benefits, side effects, and safety levels.   ( Christopher Jue | Getty Images )

The world's strongest coffee has just been named, and it has dangerously high levels of caffeine in it.

What Is Caffeine

Caffeine is an organic substance that can naturally be found in as many as 60 plant sources — including coffee beans, tea leaves, cacao pods, and kola nuts.

It can also be present in various prescription and over-the-counter drugs, such as allergy medications and pain relievers. It's also a common additive in most fat-loss supplements.

Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the International Food Information Council recommend 400 milligrams of caffeine daily.

To get an idea of how much caffeine most commonly consumed beverages contain:

    • A cup of McDonald's coffee contains 9.1 mg/fl.Oz
    • A cup of green tea contains 3.1 mg/fl.Oz
    • A can of Coca-Cola contains 2.8 mg/fl.Oz
    • A can of Red Bull contains 9.46 mg/fl.Oz
    • A cup of Starbucks dark roast contains 21.25 mg/fl.Oz
    • A cup of Black Insomnia coffee contains 58.5 mg/fl.Oz — hailed as the world strongest coffee, ousting contending caffeine champion, Death Wish

How Caffeine Works

Caffeine works as a natural stimulant by giving the central nervous system a kick. It blocks adenosine receptors in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and makes one feel tired.

Caffeine also amps up blood adrenaline levels and increases brain activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.

In effect, caffeine is lauded for its incredible ability to keep a person awake all night, sharpen focus, improve concentration, and keep energy levels up.

The stimulating effects of caffeine can start as early as 15 minutes after consumption and last up to 6 hours, based on an article by the University of Michigan Health Services.

Benefits of Caffeine

But aside from that, mounting research also shows that caffeine, especially in a hot cup of coffee, can bring amazing health benefits, such as:

    • Reducing the risk of liver cancer and throat cancer
    • Cutting the chances of suicide in adults
    • Boosting long-term memory
    • Optimizing metabolism
    • Protecting against diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and stroke

Side Effects Of Caffeine

But of course, as with all things, too much of something is bad.

How much is too much? For FDA, 600 milligrams, which is roughly four to seven cups of coffee, is considered too much.

In excess, the common side effects of caffeine may include migraine, insomnia, irritability, stomach problems, and palpitations.

Too much caffeine may also lead to sleep deprivation and eventually result in mood disorders and anxiety-related feelings, such as extreme nervousness, sweating, and tremors.

In children, experts believe caffeine may negatively impact a developing brain.

"Notably, caffeine interferes with sleep, and sleep plays a critical role in learning. Some laboratory research suggests that caffeine interferes with sleep and learning among adolescent rodents, which, in turn, hinders normal neurological development that is noticeable into adulthood," Steven E. Meredith, post-doctoral research fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told Medical News Today.

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