Is it hard for you to make it through the day without a cup of coffee? Do you crave caffeine and the energy boost it offers?

The addictive nature of caffeine isn’t a secret. Some may argue however that caffeine can be beneficial to your health and general well-being. This dichotomy beckons the question: is moderate caffeine consumption a help or a hindrance to your health?

The trick for most women is to make a conscious effort to monitor caffeine intake, being sure to consume it in moderate amounts. Such advice comes from nutrition expert Joanne Larsen, MS RD LD, of http://www.dietitian.com. PlumbTalk Women had the opportunity to talk with Larsen about the impacts caffeine can have on a woman’s physical and emotional health.

Moderate Versus Excessive Caffeine Consumption

According to Larsen, caffeine in any form isn’t overtly bad. However, women should know that there is a big difference between moderate and excessive caffeine consumption.

“Mild caffeine consumption is one to two 5 ounce cups of brewed coffee. Moderate is three to four 5 ounce cups of coffee. Excessive caffeine consumption is anything over five 5 ounce cups of coffee per day,”

says Larsen.

The problem is that most women don’t measure their caffeine intake in ounces. Many people tend to grab the largest mug, nearest candy bar, or coldest can of soda and hope for a maximum energy boost.

Caffeine and Your Health

According to the University Health Service, caffeine is a stimulant that influences the central nervous system and raises the risk of high blood pressure. It can also:

  • Increase blood flow to the skin
  • Raise body temperature
  • Increase heart rate
  • Induce stomach acid secretion

Since over-ingesting caffeine has a direct and (sometimes) negative impact on our health, Larsen says, “it is best to limit caffeinated tea and soda consumption to 32 ounces per day. Caffeinated coffee consumption should be limited to 16 ounces per day.”

Caffeinated Products You Should be Aware of

Larsen warns that there are many products women don’t factor in as part of their daily caffeine consumption. Yet, over time, these products can cause caffeine-related health issues. Here are some caffeinated products that are often overlooked:

  • Chocolate and cocoa – found in candy, beverages, and some cereals
  • Medications, including pain relievers Excedrin and Anacin
  • “Stay-Awake-Pills,” like NoDoz and Vivarin

Caffeine and Weight Loss

Many women fall prey to the idea that caffeine can stimulate weight loss. For some women this myth can be misleading and confusing. According to Larsen:

“Caffeine has no effect on a woman’s metabolism, which is regulated by the thyroid hormones, exercise, body composition, gender, and age.”

When it comes to overall weight loss, Larsen told PlumbTalk Women that many women will experience initial weight loss when consuming caffeine. However, this is only due to the fact that caffeine is a diuretic resulting in a temporary weight loss as water is eliminated from the body. Once we re-hydrate, the weight returns.

Instead of losing weight, says Larsen, you are more likely to experience the following issues with excessive caffeine consumption:

  • Feelings of nervousness
  • Jittery movements
  • Irritability
  • Inability to get a good night of sleep

Consuming Caffeine the Right Way

As Larsen points out, there are benefits to moderate caffeine consumption. Coffee drinkers are less likely to:

  • Develop type 2 diabetes
  • Have a stroke
  • Become depressed

Also,

“coffee is rich in antioxidants, those lovely little nutrients that scavenge free radicals in your body. Free radicals are thought by many to increase your risk of cancer,”

says Larsen.

Medical writer Jennifer Warner agrees with Larsen saying, “The health benefits of antioxidants are largely due to their effects in protecting against damage from [these] free radicals” (WebMD).

With regards to caffeine consumptions, Larsen recommends:

  1. Halting caffeine consumption seven hours prior to your bedtime to ensure good sleep habits
  2. Transitioning from extreme to moderate caffeine consumption in order to remain emotionally balanced, even-tempered, and maintain a healthy lifestyle

A More Balanced You

Every day women are asked to make choices concerning their health and well-being. Joanne Larsen reminds us that correct caffeine consumption involves 2 key elements: Moderation and Awareness. Being aware of what we put into our bodies and how it affects our bodies is essential to maintaining overall health. PlumbTalk Women knows how easy it is to make choices that offer instant gratification instead of making decisions that preserve health and boost confidence. Balance and moderation are habits we believe lead to a healthier, happier YOU.

For more information on caffeine and its effect on your health, please contact dietician Joanne Larsen: http://www.dietitian.com

References

Warner, J. (2011). Study Suggests Antioxidants in Caffeine Play a Role in Coffee’s Impact on Health. WebMD. Retrieved from

http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20110506/new-clues-on-caffeines-health-benefits

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