Today caffeine is one of the most widely used psychoactive substances across the world. By far, coffee is still the most widely consumed caffeinated beverage. However, energy drinks, tea, and infused foods and beverages are quickly becoming common sources of caffeine as well.
And why do we love caffeine? Perhaps it’s because of its ability to elevate our mood, minimize our fatigue, and give us the Boost of energy that we need to work harder and think clearly. And on top of that, it’s inexpensive to consume. You can pay $3 for each additional cup of coffee or $4 for an energy drink–so it’s still affordable. But what country drinks the most caffeine?
Studies show that Americans definitely rank number one when it comes to coffee and tea purchases. However, surprisingly, Finland ranked number one for the most caffeine consumption, per capita. Perhaps this isn’t too surprising as consumers who live in colder regions tend to be huge coffee drinkers, which explains why many Nordic countries such as Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland tend to rank high on the list of coffee consumption per capita.
Potential Benefits of Caffeine Reduction
People consume caffeine for different reasons, some for the energy boost, and others for mental alertness. But let’s take some of the benefits of reducing your caffeine consumption or quitting it altogether.
It Can Reduce Anxiety
Caffeine can give you an energy boost, but it can also cause anxiety symptoms like jittery nervousness and heart palpitations. Often, people with heart issues may find that caffeine products exacerbate these issues, especially when it comes to increased heartbeat and palpitations (which can cause a fluttery feeling in your chest). You can reduce the amount of anxiety and trigger this response by reducing your intake.
Improve Your Sleep
Because it increases alertness, caffeine is a popular choice to burn the midnight oil– which explains why it’s so popular amongst students and night shift workers and places such as hospitals, airports, and hotels. It makes sense to cut it out for better REM sleep. Even if you don’t drink caffeine for 5-6 hours before bed, it can still cause insomnia.
Many people who drink coffee regularly know that it can produce laxative effects, especially if it’s consumed on an empty stomach. And this isn’t due to the coffee itself, but more because of its caffeine content. And caffeine is commonly used as a laxative by health care providers for a variety of reasons. So if you find yourself more regular than usual on days that you consume caffeine, it may be time to cut back.
Minimize Premature Aging
Caffeine actually slows down your body’s ability to make collagen. This protein gives your skin its tightness, elasticity, and strength. When collagen begins to drop, your skin will start to sag and wrinkles may be more likely to appear–which explains why the skincare market is full of pills, drinks, and creams containing collagen and peptides. And while collagen production reduction is a natural process of aging, there’s no point in speeding it up further. Right?
No More Codependency
Caffeine can alter the brain’s chemical structure, just like drugs–though it’s not classified as a drug. However, multiple studies have shown that it is possible to become dependent and require more caffeine over time.
Better Nutrient Absorption
High levels of caffeine can even prevent your body from getting the vitamins and minerals it needs. It can also increase their excretion from the body–resulting in quicker loss. Cutting down on daily caffeine consumption means allowing your body to make the most of daily nutrients and vitamin supplementation.
Stronger, Whiter Teeth
Three of the most popular caffeine delivery channels are coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks. And they can all stain (and erode) your teeth due to their acidity or color. Of course, you can minimize this damage by rinsing your mouth out with water or brushing your teeth after consuming these drinks.
Lower Blood Pressure
Caffeine can cause blood pressure to rise–though only temporarily. But research also suggests that caffeine may also cause your blood vessels to narrow, which could lead to lower blood pressure and has been linked to headaches.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much for Me?
Studies have shown that as little as 100 mg of caffeine a day can cause addictive behavior. However, the FDA recommends no more than 400 mg a day to stay on the safe side when it comes to caffeine consumption. Know that this may vary by gender, age, and of their general health conditions. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others and may react differently when it comes to tolerance and withdrawal. However, if you have any concerns about caffeine and how it may affect your health, it’s always best to talk with a doctor about it.
Wrapping Things Up
While there are definitely obvious benefits to caffeine consumption, there are also downsides as well. For example, caffeine consumption can cause dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and exacerbation of certain health conditions in some people. So, whether you include caffeine in your daily ritual or not is a personal decision. However, it’s helpful to stay conscious of the amount you’re consuming and how it affects your day-to-day life.
Featured Image Credit: Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash
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