As per the Villanova University Health Department, 90% of Americans consume caffeine on a daily basis. At first, this may sound alarming until you realize all of the products that contain that good ole’ pick-me-up. Aside from the go-to strains, coffee and soda, caffeine can be found in chocolate, yogurt, tea, breath fresheners, headache medications, some breakfast cereals, and even in decaf coffee — go figure.
Unless you’re on some kind of weird cleanse, it is nearly impossible to avoid caffeine in some dosage throughout a typical workday. With so many people indulging regularly, why don’t we see an equal amount of individuals with caffeine-related health issues?
New findings in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggest that caffeine is of no threat to your heart, as previously reported, and may, in fact, be helpful. Caffeine alters our bodies by adding energy to our cells. As a result, it could potentially cause the heart to beat faster making you susceptible to abnormal heart rhythms. Theoretically, this makes sense, but multiple studies compiled by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology indicate that this is inaccurate.
Regular coffee drinkers were found to have lower amounts of new-onset atrial fibrillation, also known as “a. fib”. Atrial fibrillation is one of the more common irregular heart rhythms that increases your chance of stroke. Throughout these studies, there was no clear correlation between caffeine and such rhythms, even in patients with pre-existing heart conditions.
Caffeine’s main effect is verifiably conducted on the brain. Caffeine effectively blocks adenosine, a neurotransmitter responsible for relaxing the brain and making you feel tired. Adenosine levels normally rise throughout the day, preparing you to fall into your 800 thread-count cocoon at night, but with caffeine eliminating these transmitters, one may develop unhealthy sleeping habits.
As an effect of lower adenosine levels, the brain is triggered by producing greater amounts of other signaling molecules like dopamine and norepinephrine. These molecules are thought to contribute to your overall mood and brain function. This makes sense seeing as how the leading consumer of coffee, Finland, is also the top ranking country when it comes to national happiness.
As with all good things, there are side effects. Caffeine has not been found to be directly harmful to our bodies. However, it can spur bouts of insomnia that over time can diminish our health. Rather than habitually scarfing caffeine, we could instead use it as a tool only in situations that call for an alert mind.
Everything in moderation. Time for a coffee break.