Why too much caffeine can harm your health

Why too much caffeine can harm your health

Caffeine is part of daily life for many Americans. Who doesn't enjoy a nice cup of hot coffee or tea first thing in the morning? Caffeine is also found in many other items, including chocolate and energy drinks, that many of us depend on for a quick jolt of energy. But overloading on caffeine—be it from coffee, tea, colas, energy drinks, chocolates or other sweets—can adversely affect our bodies and our minds.

Consuming too much caffeine on a daily basis can have harmful health effects, according to a new study by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The study links excessive caffeine consumption to various physical and mental health problems including insomnia, panic attacks, increased heart rate, high blood pressure and other nervous system disorders.

While that doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop consuming caffeine altogether (unless your physician directs you to do so), the EFSA has provided the following guidelines for normal daily caffeine intake from all combined sources:

  • Up to 400 milligrams for generally healthy adults
  • 200 milligrams for women who are pregnant
  • 3 milligrams per kilogram (approximately 2.2 pounds) of a child's weight

Because caffeine works to increase alertness and combat feelings of fatigue or drowsiness by triggering nerves in the body, it can also lead to signs of over-consumption including shakiness, nervousness, elevated heart rate and lack of concentration. If you notice some of these symptoms, it may be an indication that you have had too much caffeine.

If you do begin to experience the signs of excessive caffeine intake, or if think you are consuming too much caffeine and want to cut back, here are a few suggestions:

  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated will also help to combat the ill effects of caffeine.
  • Instead of reaching for that energy drink, cola or extra cup of coffee for a burst of energy, get outside and soak up some fresh air and sunshine instead.
  • Exercise. Being physically active invigorates both the mind and the body and boosts the metabolism for sustained energy.
  • Turn to other sources of energy. Try snacking on a small handful of nuts, a ripe piece of fruit or other naturally healthy energy sources.

By paying attention to your daily caffeine intake, you can avoid any harmful effects and still enjoy your favorite coffees, teas and chocolate treats. The key to consuming caffeine in a healthy way—as with anything else—is moderation and an informed approach.

Posted: 6/17/2015 by Goshen Health
Filed under: Caffeine, Coffee, Eating, Health, Healthy, Wellness

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