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Caffeine – how bad is it for you?

June 21, 2012
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As a nation of avid tea and coffee drinkers, most of us consume caffeine every day. But are we totally in the know about the effects that it has on our body? 

Here's a lowdown of the positive and negative influences of the naturally occurring chemical.

Beneficial effects

  • It improves concentration, alertness, reasoning and vigilance
  • Helps you overcome the post-lunch dip
  • Can help the body to cope with physical exertion
  • Increases the body's level of adrenaline – the ‘fight or flight’ hormone to cope with dangerous or exacting situations
  • Caffeine doesn’t build up in the body, as it is excreted in urine.

Harmful effects

  • Can cause sleeplessness, nerviness and restlessness – but only if you exceed the recommended dose of 200mg to 400mg per day (about 2 – 4 cups of tea or coffee)
  • Mild diuretic, making the body increase output of water
  • A vasoconstrictor, causing blood vessels in the body to temporarily narrow, raising blood pressure
  • Can cause headaches
  • Some report that it brings on panic attacks and palpitations
  • Can be addictive if you rely on it.

In short, as is the case with most things, there are pros and cons. But if consumed in sensible amounts, caffeine does not cause any long-term damage to the body. Moderation is key.

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