Dietary 101: Caffeine, is it Friend or Foe?

We have never lived more caffeinated lives. The rise of popular coffee chains, soda brands, and even tea drinks has inundated us with energy spiking goodness like never before. With all of its ubiquity, it’s easy to forget that caffeine is a drug. And as with any drug, we should take care to monitor use so as to avoid addiction or dependency. So how much is too much? And what risks are associated with caffeine intake? Does it have health benefits?

Glad you asked.

Your Recommended Daily Dose of Caffeine

According to the AARP, 300 milligrams of caffeine is the sweet spot of caffeine intake. The Mayo Clinic is even more lenient, reporting that 400 milligrams is a safe amount of coffee.

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Depending on whom you ask, anywhere from three to four eight-ounce cups of coffee per day seems to be the maximum healthy amount of daily caffeinated drinks.

The Benefits of Your Daily (up to Three or Four) Cups of Joe (or Other Caffeinated Beverage)

First, we should caution that individual scientific studies are far from authoritative. Scientific conclusions come from multiple, peer-reviewed studies, and single results can be outliers. But man, under the microscope of the lab, caffeine has been shown to have some fascinating benefits.

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2009 University of Florida study showed that a reasonable amount of caffeine actually stopped the progression of Alzheimer’s in mice. It has also been shown to increase focus and improve athletic performances. Even previous science about caffeine’s link to heart arrhythmia has been called into question. It is quite possible that a reasonable daily amount of caffeine could have a profoundly positive impact on your health.

The Drawbacks of Caffeine

As we mentioned above, caffeine is an addictive drug. We’re sure you have at least one friend who describes feelings of drowsiness, headaches, or irritation if they don’t get their daily fix. But there are other drawbacks. The Mayo Clinic cautions that the intake causes a “short, but dramatic” spike in blood pressure. This can be particularly hazardous for those of us whose blood pressure is high to begin with. The AARP also notes that caffeine interacts with certain medications, including some antidepressants.

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If you’re confused by this article, we understand. There is so much information out there about caffeine. Our advice in regards to caffeine? Just don’t overdo it! Just as with anything, healthy or not, moderation is surely the key to beneficial caffeine consumption.

Last updated: 03.23.2018

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and it is not meant to be relied on as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician before starting any exercise or dietary program or taking any other action respecting your health. In case of a medical emergency, call 911.

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