If I told you that every day, a large portion of the world’s population enjoyed a psychoactive drug on more than one occasion, would you believe me? Except this is exactly what caffeine is. Considered the world’s most consumed psychoactive drug due to its ability to stimulate our central nervous system, caffeine comes in a range of mediums: usually coffee, tea and some soft drinks, but also in several natural products such as certain seeds, plants or nuts. It is very much a part of our daily lives. But is consuming too much of it having long-term effects on your health?
First we should understand what exactly it is caffeine does to your body. A prominent feature of caffeine is that it temporarily halts your body’s receptors that are responsible for sleep, therefore preventing the onset of drowsiness and giving you that invigorated feeling. Additionally, caffeine can stimulate parts of your nervous system, which in turn improves your performance – both mental and physical. Like many things, caffeine is known to have both positive and negative impacts on a person, usually linked to consumption rate and other factors. However, it remains the most used psychoactive drug in the world.
|Type of Food||Consumption Size||Caffeine Amount in mg
|Coca-Cola Classic||355 mL (12.0 US fl oz)||34|
|Decaf Coffee||207 mL (7.0 US fl oz)||5–15|
|Espreso||44–60 mL (1.5–2.0 US fl oz)||100|
|Milk Chocolate (about 11% cacao)||1 bar (43 g or 1.5 oz)||10|
|Mountain Dew||355 mL (12.0 US fl oz)||54|
|Pepsi Max||355 mL (12.0 US fl oz)||69|
|Red Bull||250 mL (8.5 US fl oz)||80|
|Regular Coffee (drip)||207 mL (7.0 US fl oz)||115–175|
|TEA, Black, Green +||177 millilitres (6.0 US fl oz)||22–74|
From a cognitive and physical aspect, caffeine is a great short-term kick. As a stimulant it reduces fatigue and drowsiness, improves reaction time, wakefulness, concentration, motor coordination as well as athletic performance. It is known to stave off sleep and generally perks you up for up to four hours. Of course, like any drug, the effects of caffeine varies from person to person, depending on their body size as well as their degree of tolerance of it.
Although recent studies have touted better brain function and other long term health benefits, there are some negative aspects to continued consumption of caffeine. It is known to increase blood pressure and cause the narrowing of blood vessels as well as arterial stiffness. On top of this, it has been linked to gastrointestinal issues and bone loss when consumed in high doses by postmenopausal women.
Psychologically, it can change moods. High caffeine consumption has been associated with anxiety and panic disorders, whilst a moderate consumption reduces symptoms of depression and lowers suicide risk. As with any drug, there is also a risk of addiction and dependence that likewise entails withdrawal symptoms. What this means is that like many other things we enjoy in life, moderation is always key!