Caffeine sure helps keep us awake but not without causing negative effects on our health, and especially when it is overdosed.
Caffeine is a natural substance which can be found in certain plants. It can also be produced artificially and used as an additive in certain foods. This substance is a stimulant for our central nervous system and also has a diuretic role. Caffeine overdose is when somebody consumes more caffeine amounts than the recommended dosage. But apart from coffee, what are the other drinks or foods that contain caffeine? They include carbonated beverages, some tea assortments, chocolate (including hot chocolate), and so on.
The symptoms of caffeine-related problems may include: breathlessness; confusion; convulsive states; fever, hallucinations; irregular heartbeat; nausea and vomiting; sleep disorders. Although people associate caffeine with coffee intake only, this substance can be found in teas, cacao or fizzy drinks. Caffeine is recognized as the most frequently used psychoactive drug. Caffeine overuse can affect the entire organism, from the nervous system to skin. Caffeine can increase the level of stress hormones in the blood, it can inhibit the important enzymatic systems which are related to cleaning the human organism and they can weaken the nervous reception system. Caffeine is sometimes associated with a state of general weakness, lightheadedness, with anxiety or depression.
It’s the way of preparing the tea or coffee that determines the level of caffeine in a certain drink. One cup of instant coffee contains about 65mg of caffeine, whereas filtered coffee contains about 110 mg/cup. Black tea and most of the caffeine-based fizzy drinks contain about 30-65 mg/portion. Hot chocolate contains about 5 mg/cup, whereas chocolate bars may contain about 10-40 mg/60 g.
Caffeine may increase the sugar level in one’s blood. It may also increase the level of sanguine fats and the blood pressure. Caffeine can also stimulate the central nervous system, thus the organism may no longer feel the need to rest. It may cause irregular heartbeat or favor the waste of calcium and magnesium via urine, which may have a harmful impact on our bones’ health in the long run. Caffeine can also cause trembling, irritability or anxiety. It may be the cause of sleep disorders or even depression, and it may amplify the PMS symptoms.
In animal studies, excessive caffeine doses can cause bone congenital malformations, the delay of the fetus’ development, decreased weight at birth and an increased number of cubs which are born dead. In very small doses, i.e. about 2 cups per day, the side effect was the slowing down of the bone growth. In the guinea pigs which were given small amounts of caffeine, researchers noticed certain behavior changes that persisted also during their adult age. An increased delay in the fetal development could also be caused by the caffeine consumed by guinea pig males before mating.
Certain studies have demonstrated that the ingestion of huge caffeine quantities by pregnant women could be related to an abnormal recurrence of premature birth, with a decreased weight and reduced cranial circumference of the newborn. Coffee and caffeine-containing teas can very much reduce the absorption of iron – with about 40%-60%.
In the case of animals, very high doses of caffeine can determine an aggressive or even psychotic behavior. In the case of humans, an intake of 650-1000mg/day can result in the appearance of caffeinism (aka “caffeine-induced organic mental disorder), a syndrome which, in experts’ opinion, is practically identical with anxious neurosis. People who are sensitive to caffeine can manifest severe anxiety and depressions after the small intake of 300 mg. Pediatrics are very concerned about the children’s caffeine intake, which can determine their hyperactive behavior. Pregnant women, women with suckling babies and children should avoid any caffeine-based products.
Those who do not want to give up chocolate or cacao, can still use them rarely in very small amounts, and should ask their doctors about it if they have any caffeine-related medical problems. Carob beans are an excellent replacement for chocolates. It’s also good to take up the habit of drinking clear water, fruit or veggie juice. If you feel the need to have a warm drink, it is best to learn how to use herbal teas or cereal-based beverages, rather than coffee or caffeinated teas.