It is a common ingredient of most drinks people consume – tea, coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, and even medicines. In fact, the National Institute of Health consider it “the most widely consumed central-nervous-system stimulant” (Nehlig, Daval and Debry 12). The chemical in question is caffeine. Sadly, O’Keefe et al. (44) note that in spite of its extensive use, people rarely take time to make a conscious consideration of both the positive and adverse implications of its consumption. With so much information about its consequences, consumers should in fact consider its effects on human health and differentiate myths from facts regarding caffeine.
The most significant benefit of caffeine is its stimulatory effect on the human body. Foxe et al. (35) observe that when it is absorbed into the bloodstream, individuals report feeling more alert and aware of their surroundings. Also, consumption of low quantities results in improved physical performance, reduced fatigue, and elevated mood. These effects hence render caffeinated beverages the drink of choice for blue-collar employees who work for long hours as well as transit drivers or others who stay for long in busy traffic (Foxe et al. 72). No wonder why they perceive this ingredient as the gasoline for the bodies of almost all American workers.
Despite the above benefits, it also has negative implications for the consumers. According to Terry-McElrath, O’Malley, and Johnston (77), excessive consumption of caffeine may precipitate increased tolerance hence resulting in the urge to consume even more to experience the same stimulatory effects. This scenario may then result in heavy caffeine dependency as it is the case with other addictive drugs. Affected consumers may experience withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue and migraines which impede their ability to function normally.
Additionally, excessive consumption may cause increased stimulation of the central nervous system resulting in restlessness, insomnia, nausea, dehydration, and irregular heart rates. With caffeine increasingly finding its way into a variety of consumables as an ingredient (Breda et al. 5), more and more people are finding it easier to access – even without consciously making such a choice. It is hence only reasonable that they prioritize their health given the above effects. Therefore, the next time you serve yourself a hot cup of that delicious coffee, consider what would be the long-term effects of having such a delightful drink on a daily basis.