Caffeine Cheat Sheet: What You Need to Keep Your Habit Healthy

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Frequently billed as “the most popular drug in the world,” caffeine can be both a best friend and a worst enemy to the average coffee, tea, or soda consumer. We all love the stuff, but it’s hard to get the straight facts on whether it’s helping or hurting our bodies. As it turns out, it’s a touch of both. While caffeine does lend itself to certain healthful properties, it’s important to moderate our intake to limit any negative effects.

We’re optimists here, so we’ll start with the good news. Aside from having a taste for it, most people come to be caffeine consumers to take advantage of its most recognizable symptoms: increased alertness, along with a reduced sense of fatigue. These classic symptoms, widely researched and reported upon by Dr. Andy Smith of Cardiff University, often usher in a pleasurable sense of energy and focus that help a person move forward with a productive day.

When consumed in moderation, caffeine has even been shown to reduce the instance and severity of headaches and migraines. According to Dr. Randolph W. Evans, clinical professor of Neurology at Baylor College of Medicine, the primary reason for this is caffeine’s ability to limit adenosine activity. Adenosine is a naturally occurring brain substance that spikes during headaches or migraine attacks. The consumption of caffeine inhibits the ability of adenosine to connect with its receptors, causing a decrease in the severity of this pain.

Caffeine also kick starts your metabolism, writes Jennifer Warner of WebMD. This process enhances the absorption of products such as pain relievers, explaining caffeine’s presence in many over-the-counter and prescription medications for headaches and other conditions.

Research by Dr. R.D. Prediger adds that consistent caffeine intake reduces your risk for Parkinson’s Disease. Various studies suggest a link between consistent caffeine intake and subsequent neurological protection against the degeneration that occurs with the onset of Parkinson’s. Not only that, but caffeine is also being studied as a possible treatment for patients who have already developed Parkinson’s Disease.