Is coffee healthy? How caffeine really works!
This is the maximum number of cups of coffee you should drink per day
Wakefulness stimulant, sleep robber – which is it?? We tell you whether coffee is healthy and how you can take advantage of the effect of caffeine during training
Right after waking up, during work, before a workout: coffee is a constant companion for many people. Almost 60 percent of Germans drink several cups of coffee a day, but often lose track of how much they consume. Is it actually healthy? After all, caffeine is one of the oldest known drugs with a high addictive potential.
We explain exactly what coffee does in the body and how you can make the most of the benefits of caffeine.
How coffee works in the body?
Coffee is mainly known for its quick energy kick. The caffeine contained in the stimulant enters the bloodstream after about 30 to 45 minutes, but the effect is felt after 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the type. Then the caffeine unfolds its effect: It inhibits the body's own sleep-promoting substance adenosine and thus reduces the feeling of tiredness. This effect can last up to 5 hours. These 4 coffee variants even provide an extra energy kick.
What are the benefits of coffee?
With the right amount of coffee, you can increase your concentration and alertness during the day – an effect that you can make good use of when fatigue sets in. Caffeine also increases the ability to think and remember and, according to studies, even reduces the risk of diseases such as diabetes and dementia.
And perhaps the most astonishing research result of recent years: coffee drinkers live longer than caffeine abstainers.
Athletes can also use the stimulant for their training success, because caffeine promotes endurance and performance. Until 2004, it was even on the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) list of banned substances.
But not only high performance athletes, also amateur athletes benefit from the stimulating effect. Not without reason, there is an extensive range of so-called pre-workout boosters available in fitness stores. In addition to various amino acids that are supposed to support muscle building and regeneration, many powders often also contain a considerable amount of caffeine – which, at 200 milligrams per serving in some cases, is significantly higher than that in coffee. Therefore, caution should always be exercised when taking such preparations.
How much coffee is healthy?
About the effects of caffeine consumption, the science is not quite unanimous. For example, sleep disorders are a real widespread disease. Whether high coffee consumption is to blame? The researchers do not know yet. Basically, caffeine affects everyone differently. Some people can drink coffee all day and sleep without problems, others get heart palpitations after just one cup.
The recommended maximum amount per day is 400 milligrams, which corresponds to about 4 cups of coffee.
It only becomes dangerous above 1000 milligrams: then symptoms of poisoning set in, hearing, visual and cardiac arrhythmias, palpitations and cramps can occur. So you should first find out for yourself how much coffee you can really tolerate. If your hands tremble, you have had at least one cup too many.
What side effects can high coffee consumption have?
Especially when tired, many drink the popular pick-me-up – but that can backfire. If you have taken too much caffeine, this is often noticeable through trembling, sweating and nervousness.
As effective as coffee may be in tired moments: caffeine can keep you awake for a long time at night. Therefore, between the last cup and going to bed should be at least 6 hours. Passionate coffee drinkers may also be familiar with the typical withdrawal symptoms when they skip a cup in the morning: Headaches, lack of concentration, fatigue, bad mood and even mild depression. After about a week without coffee, these symptoms usually subside again.
What many forget: Caffeine is one of the oldest drugs of mankind. the body gets used to caffeine over time and therefore needs more and more to feel the same effect. Coffee junkies often cup after cup to maintain the wake-up effect.
Is coffee healthy or unhealthy in the long term?
Meanwhile, studies suggesting a positive effect of coffee for health are piling up. But on the flip side, other researchers warn of the dangers of coffee consumption in their studies. Opinions are divided as to how healthy the caffeine kick really is. We have summarized the most interesting research findings for you:
Pro: In 2012, a study showed that drinking at least 3 cups of coffee a day reduces the risk of death by 10 percent.
Contra: A shorter lifespan was determined by a 2013 study for those who drink more than 28 cups per week.
Pros: Researchers found out in 2013 that cyclists' performance improves with caffeine.
Cons: That same year, a journal article stated that caffeine impairs blood flow during exercise.
Pro: Caffeine improves memory after learning new things, according to a 2014 study.
Cons: Not so a 2013 paper: caffeine consumption can wipe out any learned cognitive improvement.
Pros: In 2014, a study said that caffeine drink consumers are at a lower risk of developing depression.
Contra: That caffeine increases anxiety, according to other research from the same year.
Pro: More and stronger sperm after caffeine ingestion – a 2013 study makes a case for this.
Contra: A 2012 study, on the other hand, says heavy coffee drinkers have lower success rates with artificial insemination.
Pro: Moderate to high coffee consumption lowers risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a 2013 scientific paper.
Contra: Another study from that year warns that high coffee consumption increases the likelihood of metabolic syndrome.
These foods contain caffeine
Coffee may be the best-known caffeinated beverage, but it is far from the only one. Nowadays, even coffee opponents have the opportunity to enjoy a caffeine fix, for example with the help of energy drinks. A natural energy boost comes with black tea. Caffeine is also found in dark chocolate. You can even buy the stimulant as a pure, tasteless powder for baking.