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Caffeine: To Drink or Not To Drink

September 9, 2013

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Caffeine may go down in history as the most highly debated beverage of all time. Some people swear by the health benefits of a cup of coffee or tea every morning, while others claim the highly addictive substance does more harm than good.

As with every controversial food, I think it’s best to explore both sides of the argument before deciding to introduce, or eliminate, that food from your diet. It could be that caffeine is a great addition to your morning ritual, or you may find that you don’t need it at all. It’s a personal dietary preference. To help you make the decision to drink caffeine or not, here are the most common pros and cons of caffeine.

Pros of Caffeine

It boosts your memory: Caffeine wakes up your senses, so it can also have a positive effect on your memory. If you drink coffee in the morning, you may be able to feel more alert and ready to retain information.

Can help to lessen the effects of degenerative diseases: Some research has shown that caffeine can help minimize the effects of type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and Parkinson’s. In fact, regular coffee drinkers are 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. The caveat is that caffeine is often consumed with a large amount of sugar, preservatives, and additives like those in soda, which can have the opposite effect on these diseases, especially weight-related illnesses like diabetes.

It can help with headaches: Caffeine naturally opens up your blood vessels to help deliver oxygenated blood to your brain, which can help stop headaches. For this reason, caffeine is a main ingredient in some migraine medications and pain pills.

Cons of Caffeine

It’s highly addictive: As any coffee junkie can attest, caffeine is a highly addictive substance. An addiction can take as little as a week to form, and will leave you with massive headaches on your first caffeine-free day.

It can contribute to the obesity epidemic: One of the most common caffeinated beverages is soda. The caffeine contributes to the addictive quality of soda that keeps people coming back for more. The sugar and artificial flavorings in soda are major contributors to the obesity epidemic, especially childhood obesity. Caffeine is also present in chocolate, which could have the same effect as soda.

Caffeine promotes sleeplessness and anxiety: If people drink caffeine too close to bedtime, sleeplessness is very common. In fact, depending on the effect that caffeine has on your body, it could keep you awake even if you drink it in the morning. People with anxiety need to be extra cautious when it comes to caffeine as it can heighten anxiety as well as cause irritability. 

Which side of the caffeine debate are you on?