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Is caffeine bad for my health?

caffeine coffee tea Feb 02, 2021

In short, no, caffeine is not bad for your health. In fact, you may be doing yourself a disservice if you cut out caffeine entirely.


Having said that, we do need to be mindful about how much caffeine we are consuming, as it can cause some nasty side effects if we have too much. Today, we will go through caffeine recommendations, the benefits and the negatives.

 

Recommendations 

The recommendations for caffeine sit at 400mg per day. However, this is purely a ballpark figure, which equates to:

  • Two-three espressos
  • Four instant coffees
  • Six-seven green teas
  • Eight-ten black teas


When it comes to coffee, the limit is three. For those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the limit drops to one or two. Additionally, those who have heart conditions need to be wary about how much caffeine they are consuming. If you're concerned, it's best to discuss caffeine intake with your GP.  

 

Benefits of caffeine 

When it comes to caffeine consumption, there is a range of benefits! These are outlined below. 


In terms of chronic disease, caffeine may decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes and improve Parkinson’s disease management. Additionally, the right amount of caffeine also holds cancer-protective effects.


Intermittent caffeine consumption has been heavily researched in sports — specifically, its effect on exercise endurance and power exertion. Caffeine can also increase one’s focus and alertness, therefore having a flow-on impact on an athlete’s performance.


Caffeine has a thermogenic effect, which means it plays a part in weight management. Caffeine has the power to increase the internal body temperature, thus allowing people to burn more energy. Literature also reveals that caffeine has mild fat-burning effects and can act as an appetite suppressant if not used chronically.

 

Negatives of caffeine 

On the flip side, there are also adverse effects of caffeine that can be detrimental to our health.


Too much caffeine can increase our heart rate and contribute to elevated levels of anxiety. If this relates to you, cut back on your caffeine intake and evaluate how you feel. 


Not all caffeine-containing products are healthy, like energy drinks (Mother, Red Bull & V) and Iced-Coffees (Dare & Ice Breakers). These products contain a considerable amount of sugar and saturated fat, which can exacerbate the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease. For the same reason, we need to be mindful of chocolate. Yes, it can be healthy (and delicious) in small amounts, but we don’t want to go overboard.


People with osteoporosis, or who are concerned about their calcium absorption, need to mindful of caffeine intake. Polyphenols are a substance in caffeine, which can inhibit the absorption of calcium. Although the impact is small, it is good to be aware of it.

 

Nutrigenomics

Gene testing is part of nutrigenomics, and is a useful tool to determine your metabolism’s speed and how your body processes different substances, for instance, caffeine. If you are a slow caffeine metaboliser, it is best to limit caffeine intake, as it can increase your heart rate and anxiety levels. This information can be compelling, as people’s medication may be adjusted based on their genetic profile.

 

In summary, caffeine can be a healthy part of a well-balanced diet. It has a range of health benefits from chronic disease prevention, to improved performance and alertness. We just need to ensure that we don’t have too much caffeine daily. If you’d like to discuss caffeine further or are seeking personalised advice on how much caffeine to have, contact CQ Nutrition to book a consult.  


Here is a link to book in with one of our expert dietitians at any of our locations https://www.cqnutrition.com.au/booking/ 

Want an online consultation? Book in on my calendar and in the comments write 'online': https://bit.ly/AnnieROK 
 

Written by Annabel Johnston, BAppSc&MDietPrac & GCertDiabSt

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