How to Consume Caffeine in a Healthy Way
Caffeine is most likely part of your daily routine, but if you aren’t careful, caffeine can actually have a negative impact on your body.
There is no need to get paranoid or overly cautious. To make things easier for you, we have compiled these 5 easy ways to consume caffeine in a healthy way.
1. Know Your Limits
According to the Mayo Clinic, the average adult shouldn’t have more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. In regards to caffeine products, this is how that amount typically breaks down:
- 3-4 cups of coffee (drip, espresso, instant coffee, french press ,etc.)
- 10 cans of soda
- 2 energy drinks
You should always check the ingredient information of drinks to see how much caffeine they have. Since everyone has varying digestive systems, your limits are probably different than others. While some people have no problem consuming a lot of caffeine, others are more susceptible to negative side effects. What can happen if you go over your limits? Here are a few symptoms of taking too much caffeine:
- Stomach issues
- Feeling nervous
- Excessive urination
- Feeling restless
So, how should you set your limits? If you just started drinking coffee, stick to enjoying one cup a day. And if you try drinking more and find that you feel jittery and anxious, take that as a sign and stick to your limits. You can also consider decaffeinated drinks, which have less caffeine but still maintain that coffee flavor. Just remember that what might work for someone else, doesn’t necessarily work for you.
2. Don’t Consume Caffeine Too Late
We all have been there: you’re lying in your bed at night, desperately trying to get some rest but no matter what you do, you can’t overcome insomnia. It turns out that caffeine can actually make matters worse. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that drinking caffeine less than six hours before bedtime has “important disruptive effects on sleep.” The study encouraged people “to refrain from substantial caffeine use for a minimum of 6 hours prior to bedtime.”
Though caffeine can provide a necessary boost after a big lunch, there’s a chance that it actually is having the unwanted consequence of messing with your sleep cycle.
3. Avoid Sugar in Your Coffee
For some people, coffee is a tad too bitter for their tastes. So to make it more palatable, they add some sweetener like a couple packets of sugar or syrup. While there is nothing wrong with occasionally indulging in a donut or a slice of delicious cake, consuming a lot of sugar on a daily basis can have detrimental effects.
A diet comprised of an excessive amount of sugar can lead to heart disease, weight gain, and blood pressure issues. Even natural sweeteners aren’t necessarily good for you. Read our previous article to learn more why you should drink your coffee black without sugar or milk.
Energy drinks in particular have a notorious amount of sugar with some drinks having up to 21 teaspoons. Regardless of how much of a short term boost they give you, the long term effects aren’t worth it.
4. Eat Something Before You Consume Caffeine
Since coffee has an acidic effect, you should make sure you have eaten before drinking it. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach can mess with your stomach lining and lead to negative side effects like feelings of anxiousness and nervousness. That’s why, regardless of when you drink it, you need to ensure that you have had enough food. While caffeine can help stimulate your digestion, there can also be too much of a good thing.
If you already have digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome, drinking caffeine can actually make things worse.
5. Don’t Mix Caffeine With Alcohol
Unfortunately, caffeinated alcoholic concoctions are a popular party staple. In 2010, the FDA cracked down on seven caffeinated alcoholic beverages because of public health concerns. Even if these dangerous beverages are off the shelves, people can still order cocktails that mix the two ingredients at bars. But just because it’s a casual part of party culture, doesn’t mean it’s safe. Mixing alcohol and caffeine can lead to dangerous scenarios.
According to the USDA’s dietary guidelines, “people who mix alcohol and caffeine may drink more alcohol and become more intoxicated than they realize, increasing the risk of alcohol-related adverse event.” In addition to increasing the likelihood of excessive drinking, alcohol also leads to high blood pressure. You should feel free to drink alcohol moderately (if you are 21 or over of course). However, be careful of mixing it with caffeine.