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Coffee and Caffeine – How Much Should You Drink?

By lucy yuan 8 years ago 4077 Views No comments

Coffee is controversial.

Depending on who you ask, it is either a wonderful beverage or addictive poison.

I've looked at the science, and it seems pretty clear that coffee has been unfairly demonized.

Coffee is actually a complex beverage, with hundreds of bioactive compounds.

In fact, it is the single biggest source of antioxidants for many people .

Studies also show that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, neurological disorders and liver diseases .

However, just because a little bit of something is good, it doesn't mean that a whole lot is necessarily better, or even safe.

So, how much coffee is too much, and what is the "sweet spot" to maximize the health benefits while minimizing the risks?

Let's find out…

How Much Caffeine is in a Cup of Coffee?

The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine, the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world .

The caffeine content in a cup of coffee is highly variable, ranging from 50 to 400+ mg per cup.

A small home-brewed cup of coffee could contain 50 mg, while a big 16 oz Starbucks grande can contain over 300 mg.

As a general rule, you can assume that an average 8 ounce cup of coffee contains around 100 mg of caffeine.

Several sources suggest that 400 mg of caffeine, or 4 cups of coffee, are safe for most healthy adults .

However, many people (including myself) drink much more than that without any issues.

Keep in mind that there are many other sources of caffeine besides coffee, including tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate and certain medications .

Short-Term Symptoms of Too Much Caffeine

When it comes to the health effects of coffee, there are both short- and long-term symptoms.

Let's talk about the short-term symptoms first, which are mostly related to the caffeine itself.

Caffeine works primarily in the brain, where it affects the function of neurotransmitters and exerts a stimulant effect.

If you drink too much coffee in a short amount of time, you will experience symptoms mostly related to your brain and digestive system.

Here are some common symptoms of ingesting too much caffeine:

  • Restlessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Dizziness.
  • Upset stomach.
  • Irritability.
  • Insomnia.
  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Tremors.

If you experience such symptoms after drinking coffee, then you may be sensitive to caffeine and may want to cut back your intake (or simply avoid caffeine altogether).

It is possible to die from a caffeine overdose, but this is next to impossible to do with coffee alone. You would have to drink more than 100 cups in a single day.

People Tolerate Varying Amounts of Coffee/Caffeine

Caffeine affects people in different ways. Many genes have been discovered that affect our sensitivity to caffeine

Man Who Drinks a Lot of Coffee

These genes have to do with the enzymes that break down caffeine in the liver, as well as receptors in the brain that are affected by caffeine.
The effects of caffeine on sleep are also genetically determined . Some people can drink coffee and go to sleep right after, for others it keeps them awake throughout the night.
Depending on your genetic makeup, you may tolerate a lot of caffeine, or very little. Most people are somewhere in the middle.
People's individual tolerance is also very important. Those who drink coffee every day can tolerate much more than those who drink it only rarely.
It's also important to realize that medical conditions can affect sensitivity to caffeine.
If you have anxiety, panic disorder, heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure, diabetes, take medication or have any sort of medical condition, then you may tolerate less caffeine and should speak to a doctor.
To be continued ...
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