Caffeine has become such an important part of the average American’s morning and, oftentimes, afternoons. According to a study by the US Food and Drug Administration, the average American consumes two to four amounts of coffee each day.
The health benefits and health risks of caffeine have been hotly debated for years now, although it’ll take a lot more than some facts to change such an ingrained part of US culture.
Caffeine, aptly called the most popular drug in the world, is found in natural seeds and leaves of various plants. Caffeine is used as an insecticide by the plants. The caffeine we normally consume comes from the seeds of a coffee plant or the leaves of a tea bush.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant. It acts by stimulating the central nervous system and works to fight off tiredness and to improve the concentration and focus of the mind.
Caffeine is absorbed throughout the body, most notably the brain, and typically passes out of the body harmlessly after a few hours as urine. Typically, caffeine starts working as little as ten minutes after consumption and as long as six hours after.
There are many health benefits to regularly drinking controlled amounts of caffeine. Medical News Today cites studies where drinking up to four cups of coffee a day may decrease the risk of liver cancer by 50%, and mouth and throat cancer by half.
Caffeine, in addition to boosting short term brain function, may also help improve long term memory in some cases.
However, there are also studies that state that large amounts of caffeine (500-600 mg) “may lead to insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat and even muscle tremors,” according to the Mayo clinic.
Even moderate amounts of caffeine, 300-400 mg per day, may lead to an increase of early death and reduced weight in newborn babies.
The effect of caffeine varies person by person, but, like many foods and drinks, moderation is key.