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The benefits of caffeine and how to consume it safely

It is the legal drug of choice, the go-to for energy, the craving killer and the perfect hangover cure. Caffeine, the legal, addictive and brilliant ingredient that continues to gather pace as one of our favourite ingestible stimulants.

Caffeine, when consumed in safe quantities has a raft of scientific data to support its benefits. It is a thrilling ride when you are buzzed from it, but a sicky feeling when you crash off the other side.

Let us focus on the positive for the majority of this article, but we will very importantly cover the negatives.

Coffee is safe to drink and enjoy, it is linked to many health benefits. 4 -5 cups per day is perfectly healthy and can give benefits including alertness, faster speed reasoning and even improved physical performance.

What the leading food safety agency in Europe say

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) recognize that caffeine can increase endurance performance, endurance capacity, and reduction in perceived exertion.

Whilst EFSA haven’t given authorisation for a particular claim to be used for caffeine, they will allow on-hold claims (claims that require further review) to be used on the packaging of products containing caffeine.

What the NHS and scientists say

The NHS website has reported on a study of over 450,000 Europeans regarding the benefits of caffeine. The results are quite astounding, and the writer follows up by saying that “a similar study of vast proportions was also carried out in the USA and similar results were found, adding extra weight to these finding”.

Here are the results:

  • Men who drank the highest amount of coffee versus non-consumers and low consumers had a 59% lower risk of death from digestive disease (aHR 0.41, 95% CI 0.32 to 0.54).
  • Women who drank the highest amount of coffee versus non-consumers and low consumers had a 40% lower risk of death from digestive disease (aHR 0.60, 95% CI 0.46 to 0.78).
  • Women who drank the highest amount of coffee versus non-consumers had a 22% lower risk of death from circulatory disease (aHR 0.78, 95% CI 0.68 to 0.90).
  • Women who drank the highest amount of coffee versus non-consumers had a 30% lower risk of death from cerebrovascular disease (aHR 0.70, 95% CI 0.55 to 0.90).

What is safe?

The British Heart Foundation, the NHS, EFSA and most sensible doctors will tell you that 4-5 cups of coffee per day.

In the UK, the Food Standards Agency say that pregnant women should not consume more than 200mg of caffeine per day. It all gets a bit blurry after this and the upper limit for men and women seems to be less clear. But we found this statement on the FSA website: “Adults: Single doses of caffeine up to 200mg and daily intakes of caffeine up to 400mg do not raise safety concerns”.

Young people consume more coffee than ever before. The drink is cool but even cooler is that brain hackers are adding adaptogens like ashwagandha or L-Theanine to change the way it affects your moods.

A new trend

In the modern world of nootropics (brain enhancing drugs), people are starting to use caffeine in new ways. A raft of smart coffees brands are building around the needs of the modern consumer that wants good flavour and few extra fringe benefits from their daily dark roast.

Here at Body Pow, we have developed a slimming coffee that delivers energy, hunger reduction and improved cognitive function. Other brands, like Bulletproof Coffee, are designed to help you achieve ketosis, a state that your body slides into and allows you to burn your stored fat for energy. It accompanies a very difficult diet, but the principle seems plausible.

The final word

When it comes to caffeine, you should treat it like alcohol and drink it in safe quantities. Always consume what you are comfortable with and always follow advice on labels or legislative guidelines. You can always have too much of a good thing and if you do that with caffeine, it can bite back in a bad way. So enjoy your coffee and the benefits, but don’t drink to excess.

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