Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Is Caffeine Harmful to Health?

"99 ABC’s of Wellness” Article Credit: The original article 99 ABC’s of Wellness is by Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit, which has appeared on the Philippine Star on January 12, 1999."

Principle #19: Is Caffeine Harmful to Health?

Over the past years, health experts have been talking about the potential hazard of caffeine to health. They say that “the caffeine in coffee, tea and cola drinks increases blood pressure and dehydrates the body. A cup of caffeine should be washed down by at least two glasses of water” (excerpt from the original article).

Caffeine acts as a stimulant to the brain. It wards off sleepiness and helps keep alertness. It is a natural “psycho-active” drug, a substance that stimulates the brain, that is readily available to consumers unlike drugs that require medical prescription. That is why coffee has been a “wake-up” beverage when someone wants to stay up while working or studying, to keep his brain working.

Caffeine is also a natural antioxidant and studies show that it has protective effects to the body against some diseases including certain types of cancer.

Experts say that there is no direct evidence that caffeine causes cardiovascular disease. It may even reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. In fact, there is a study that shows that drinking coffee may have minor protective effect against hypertension.

Caffeine can also protect the body from liver cirrhosis.

The US Food and Drugs Association recognizes “caffeine” as a safe food substance especially in cola.

Any harmful effect may arise from extreme or excessive intake. As a diuretic, it may cause frequent urination that’s why people who are traveling are advised to avoid caffeine. Excessive amounts may also cause insomnia in certain individuals.

Excessive intake of caffeine may lead to a certain condition called “caffeine intoxification”. The symptoms of caffeine intoxication are not unlike overdoses of other stimulants. It may include restlessness, fidgeting, anxiety, excitement, insomnia, flushing of the face, increased urination, gastrointestinal disturbance, muscle twitching, a rambling flow of thought and speech, irritability, irregular or rapid heart beat, and psychomotor agitation. In cases of much larger overdoses, mania, depression, lapses in judgment, disorientation, disinhibition, delusions, hallucinations, or psychosis may occur, and rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue) can be provoked (source:

Is caffeine harmful to health? Well, it depends on how much caffeine you take and if you have any health condition that would cause your body to react negatively to caffeine. Otherwise, normal caffeine intake like a cup of coffee or tea a day, and glass of cola may not cause harm.

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