Many of us can’t start off our day on the right foot unless we have a freshly brewed cup of java in the morning.  In more recent years, caffeine has also become a popular pre-workout supplement in the form of energy drinks, aimed to boost and maintain energy levels of during high intensity workouts. Lots of athletes swear by it, but many also condemn it. Let’s examine the ancient question: Is caffeine good or bad for you?


What is caffeine?

Caffeine is a natural chemical stimulant. For the science nerds out there, its official name is trimethylxanthine. In the purest form, it’s a white powder (nope, not brown) that stimulates the brain and heart and even acts as a diuretic. Found in many plants, its most notable sources are coffee beans and tea leaves.

Is it addictive?

It can be, but not in the same way other drugs are addictive. Your body may become dependent on it, but it’s not generally considered a medical addiction. However, some side effects have been noted for those who have readily tried to quit consuming it.  These can be headaches, irritability, tiredness, etc. So if you decide you no longer want to drink it, it’s probably best to ease off of it slowly.

Is it dehydrating?

One common belief is that caffeine can actually dehydrate your system, since it flushes fluids. That’s very true. But that also depends on the form in which you’re consuming it. If you drink coffee, for example, the water in it will make up for the mild dehydrating effect. And studies have found no evidence of dehydration with regular moderate use. But always remember to keep yourself hydrated with water throughout the day, regardless.

Does it lead to other medical issues?

It’s generally agreed upon in the scientific community that caffeine does not cause cancer, as some think. Evidence actually suggests it can decrease chances for it. Given that caffeine triggers heart rate, if you have a heart condition, it’s best to consult an expert about using it regularly.  It can also raise your blood pressure and stress levels for hours after consumption.  So yes, an overuse of caffeine can affect your physical health. It’s good to remember that, like all things, caffeine has it’s place and purpose in today’s busy world, and with the right amount, it can boost your energy levels in the morning and at the gym. But as the old adage goes: There can be too much of a good thing. Know anyone who likes caffeine? Share this article with them! Photo Courtesy of: David 
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