Your alarm goes off. It’s time to start another day. You stumble into your kitchen to find the kickstart to your day, the coffee pot. This very scenario is played out daily in millions of American homes- about 64 percent to be exact. But how healthy is that cup of  “rise and shine” in your hand? Have you ever considered that that cup of joe could be causing you more harm than help? Let’s talk about the effects of caffeine and what it does to your body.

What is caffeine and what does it do to your body?

Have you ever stopped to consider just what caffeine is? What exactly does it do to your body and why? Understanding this chemical that is so easily found in many things we consume in today’s society is important. In order to know if this chemical is harmful to your body, you must first know what it does. Caffeine is a tasteless compound that is a derivative of different plant sources. It acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system which means that it increases the activity in your brain and nerves. This is why one of the first things you recognize in your body after consuming caffeine is alertness. You can feel these effects as early as 15 minutes after consumption and they can last for up to 6 hours. Caffeine can be found in more than coffee. It is also found in teas, sodas, energy drinks and – surprise! – chocolate.

Positive Effects of Caffeine

Although many say that caffeine is not good for you, there are actually quite a few benefits from consuming caffeine in moderation. Caffeine can help brain function. The Harvard School of Public Health discovered that by drinking two to four cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of suicide in adults. Another study showed that 200 mg of caffeine a day (in any form) can enhance your memory. Who knew that that cup of steamy goodness or that piece of dark chocolate could have such a great effect on the brain? Caffeine can also help speed up metabolism and weight loss. Caffeine increases metabolism by 11% because of its ability to stimulate the central nervous system. It has also been proven that by consuming 300 mg of caffeine a day, you can burn an extra 79 calories. Caffeine enhances exercise performance.

Negative Effects of Caffeine

Just like with many other things, caffeine must be consumed in moderation. Although there are so many positive benefits of caffeine, there are still some negative effects that you should look out for. Because caffeine is a stimulant it is imperative to consider consumption times. Ingestion of caffeine close to sleeping hours can result in disrupted sleep or even insomnia. Medical News Today shared that if caffeine is consumed 6 hours before bed, it lessens sleep by at least one hour. It is also important to be mindful of how much caffeine you are consuming on any given day. The average amount of caffeine that should be consumed in a day is up to 400 mg. If more than this is consumed, you are exposed to risks such as headaches, restlessness, dehydration, anxiety, rapid heart rhythm, even possible convulsions.

Yes, caffeine is a wonderful gift from mother nature, but without a full understanding on the impact of this chemical on your body, there is potential for harm to your body. It is best to stay informed so that you are able to enjoy the benefits and have caffeine positively impact your life.