What's the Deal With Caffeine and Your Body? We Investigate

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Drink it up or put it down?

What Is Caffeine?

Coffee, tea, and soft drinks are all very popular drinks in the United States. They all also contain caffeine. We're digging into caffeine and the role it plays on the body. Read on to find out what caffeine is, the benefits of caffeine, and the side effects of caffeine.

Caffeine is a naturally-occurring substance found in seeds, fruit, nuts, and leaves of more than 60 plants around the world. Some of these plants include coffee beans, tea leaves, cacao pods, kola nuts, guarana seeds, and yerba mate leaf.

Caffeine is a stimulant and is actually the most used drug in the United States, with more 90 percent of adults consume caffeine on a regular basis. More than 1 billion cups of coffee were sold at coffee shops and restaurants in 2006 in Australia and, over the last 30 years, coffee consumption in Australia has doubled.

While the FDA recommends ingesting no more than 400 mg of caffeine a day, a person's size and caffeine sensitivity also play a role in how much they can consume. It takes about 45 minutes for your blood and tissues to absorb caffeine and one hour until it reaches its peak. After four to six hours, caffeine will being fading from your body.

Benefits of Caffeine

Drinking coffee to feel more alert is one of caffeine's most popular uses - if not the most popular use - but there are plenty of other benefits of caffeine too.

• Coffee has also been known to increase brain function, boost long-term memory, and increase physical endurance.

• Regularly consuming coffee decreases the risk of Alzheimer's, dementia, Parkinson's, and certain types of cancers.

• It lowers your risk of stroke 22 to 25 percent.

Caffeine consumption decreased the risk of developing kidney stones.

• One study found another amazing benefit of drinking coffee: regularly drinking it decreased risk of suicide by 45 percent.

• Coffee is a diuretic, which means it helps you expel excess salt and water from your body by urinating more often.

Side Effects of Caffeine

Like with all good things, caffeine comes with some side effects as well. This is typically if someone consumes too much caffeine.

Studies in Korea have found links between consuming too much caffeine and depression.

• Drinking too much coffee can cause anxiety

Caffeine can cause insomnia, increasing how long it takes to fall asleep and how long you actually stay asleep through the night.

One review found that energy drinks often left people feeling more fatigued the next day due to rebound fatigue.

• [Caffeine consumption during menopause] can lead to increased hot flashes and night sweats.

• In many people, it can actually trigger chronic daily headaches.

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