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Welcome to the Health Defence Blog - a blog about health, wellness and a healthier you. Brought to you by the Health Defence team at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, you'll find up-to-date information on a range of topics from what's in your food to the latest advice on e-cigarettes!
Megan - Health Promotion Specialist
June 22, 2018
That ‘buzz’ you get from a cup of coffee or energy drink comes from the caffeine content in these drinks. Caffeine makes us feel more alert and reduces tiredness but you can have too much of a good thing. Read on to find out how much caffeine is safe to consume every day, how to cut back and find out if ‘decaf’ actually means ‘caffeine-free’.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant that can help you to feel more alert and reduce feelings of fatigue. Caffeine works by blocking the receptors in the brain that make you feel sleepy. The effects of caffeine are usually highest 15 – 45 minutes after consuming a caffeine-containing food or drink.
Where caffeine is found and how much is safe?
Caffeine is found in a number of foods and drinks and the amount can vary between products. For example, an instant coffee tends to have less caffeine than an espresso. The type of beans or tea leaves used and the size of cup also affects the caffeine content.
Generally, it is considered safe for most adults to consume up to 400mg of caffeine per day. However, some people should limit their intake further, such as pregnant women who should have no more than 200mg per day.
Common sources of caffeine:
Caffeine content of foods and drinks
*Please note: this list is not exhaustive and these are approximations only. For reference, a mug of filter coffee contains 140mg caffeine and a double-shot espresso or latte has 150-200mg caffeine.
What 400mg per day can look like (remember this is the upper limit):
Caffeine and health
Everyone responds to caffeine differently and some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. Whilst drinking tea and coffee can be part of a healthy diet, consuming too much caffeine can cause:
Are there any benefits?
When looking at the benefits of caffeine, it’s the type of beverage that contains the caffeine that is linked to health. For example, drinking coffee may be good for your health, but high-sugar colas are not.
When it comes to drinking coffee, the evidence is mixed but coffee appears to do more good, than harm. Drinking coffee may be beneficial due to high levels of antioxidants (but we also get these in our diet from fruit and vegetables). Both regular and decaffeinated coffee is linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and may reduce heart disease and stroke risk.
Reducing your caffeine intake
Reducing your caffeine intake isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Just like having too much caffeine, some people may experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as headaches or irritability.
The best way to reduce your caffeine intake is to do so gradually.
Caffeine free beverages
Caffeine increases your energy and alertness and drinking coffee may have additional health benefits. However, listen to your body and limit your intake if you are having trouble sleeping or become anxious.
Want more? For tips on how to enjoy your coffee and keep your waistline happy at the same time, read our blog ‘Is your morning coffee making you fat?’
***Disclaimer: always seek medical advice before starting a new diet, exercise regime or medication. The information in these articles is not a substitute for professional advice from a GP, registered dietitian or other health practitioner.