Caffeine: The Best Part of Your Day
Many Canadians start the day the same way- with a nice, hot cup of coffee. We often hear “I can’t start my day without it” or jokes such as “don’t talk to me until my second cup”. While you might think this is lighthearted humor, caffeine is an addictive drug that can lead to dependence, without us even realizing.
Caffeine is a dug that stimulates brain function and suppresses fatigue, and can enhance your performance of tasks or physical activities involving stamina or endurance. However, it might make it more difficult to perform fine-motor activities as one side effect is trembling. Consuming caffeine in the evening might make it more difficult to fall asleep and have a restful night. Caffeine is found in, coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, energy drinks, caffeine pills, and cough/ cold and pain medication. There are times when caffeine is beneficial to the body, but what happens when we consume caffeine daily? A dependence forms, making it more and more difficult to go without caffeine, creating a feeling of “I NEED my coffee”.
The Most Popular Drug
Caffeine is the most widely used substance in the world. Canada ranks third in the world for caffeine consumption, with an average of 2.7 cups per day, many citing our long winters as a reason for drinking so much coffee and tea. While this might be true, it is also important to consider the factor of convenience; there are 3530 Tim Hortons locations and 1346 Starbucks locations across Canada. With coffee on every corner, it is very convenient to grab a beverage, even if it wasn’t your intention for the day.
So how does caffeine affect us? Almost all ingested caffeine is metabolized, and the body does not accumulate the drug day-to-day. Those who drink 4 or more cups per day are at risk of loss of bone density and an increased risk of osteoporosis. However, the data in this area is not very conclusive but women may be at a higher risk for fractures with an incremental increase in coffee consumption. This high daily amount can also cause anxiety, tremors and a rapid or irregular heartbeat. It is also important not to mix caffeine with alcohol. This is dangerous because the caffeine will stimulate the brain and make you feel less intoxicated, therefore you may continue to drink more or engage in risky behaviour. Consuming too much caffeine while pregnant can increase the risk of miscarriage and the baby having low weight at birth. It is also important to know that caffeine is excreted in breast milk, therefore babies of mothers who are nursing and drink large amounts of caffeine may have difficulty sleeping and become irritable. While caffeine can be dangerous, it would take about 40 cups of coffee in a short period of time for it to be fatal.
But is it all bad?
A recent review showed that the previous studies on caffeine may not have taken into multiple factors, such as study quality that could influence the results. Interestingly caffeine consumption has been associated with increased upper body strength performance. However, the health risks of caffeine should be considered, especially in those who have health problems which can be made worse
How to Cut Back
Looking to cut down on the amount of caffeine you consume but don’t know how? To start, it is important to be aware of the maximum daily average you should be consuming for your age, gender, health etc. Only 5 per cent of young people (ages 12-24) know the maximum daily caffeine intake for their age, a number we should all be aware of. Once you are aware of your maximum daily intake, try working within those limits, for example only 2 cups per day. After cutting down to the recommended amount, try substituting 1 cup with a herbal tea or other beverage. When cutting back on caffeine, it is important to be mindful of your choices, until they become new habits.
Another way to cut down on caffeine consumption is by taking a closer look at ingredient labels. When a product contains natural caffeine, it does not have to be listed on the ingredients. This means that we might be consuming more caffeine than we think. However, when caffeine is added to a product, it does have to be listed on the ingredients so check labels and make sure you are adding up your caffeine intake accurately.
In conclusion, having caffeine on a daily basis is not considered dangerous, however, we should be more mindful that caffeine is a drug and that there are limits to consumption. It is important to limit caffeine consumption in children, as it can impact growth and development, and in pregnant women, as it can affect the baby. If you are trying to reduce your caffeine consumption but are struggling, reach out to a member of the CMAP Health team today!
About the Author
Samantha-Rose is the Digital Marketing Coordinator at CMAP Health and Unified CBT. She Studied Business at Ryerson University and majored in Public Relations at Humber College.