“In its fair measure” is usually the answer to the question of what is the appropriate amount that we should ingest of this food or that drink. It is true, moderate consumption is the key. Not much, not little. Only then will our body take advantage of the benefits that a balanced diet brings to our health. In the case of coffee, scientific evidence has shown its protective effect, putting an end to numerous hoaxes that questioned the benefits of this substance. Of course, Drinking too many cups can lead to a caffeine overdose and breach, therefore, the rule of just measure.
“Caffeine is a component that produces a stimulating effect on the nervous system because blocks the receptors of the molecules that induce us to a state of sleep“, Explain paula hinke, member of the Food Education Commission of the Official College of Dietitians-Nutritionists of the Valencian Community (CODiNuCoVa). For this reason, the specialist points out that, in the event of an excess of this substance, it produces “a state of nervous agitation that our brain cannot regulate as it normally would”.
As to the specific amount of caffeine that defines an overdose, it will depend on individual tolerance. However, as he points out Naiara Carreteropresident of the Professional Association of Dietitians-Nutritionists of Castilla y León (CODINUCyL), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has established some references on the safe intake of caffeine.
- For the healthy adult population, consumption of up to 400 mg of caffeine (between four and five cups of coffee) throughout the day does not have harmful effects on health. This translates to about 5.7 mg for every pound of body weight.
- For pregnant or lactating women, intakes of up to 200 mg do not represent a risk to the health of the fetus.
- In a single dose, up to 200 mg of caffeine is considered safe.both in adults and in children and young people.
Symptoms of a caffeine overdose
There are several signs that could indicate a caffeine overdose. The experts consulted by CuídaetPlus point out the following:
“Excessive and chronic caffeine consumption can have long-term negative effects on our health. Some of the consequences may include sleep disturbances, mood imbalances, increased risk of osteoporosis, impaired nutrient absorption, dependence physical and psychological, and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases”, emphasizes Carretero.
What to do if we overdose on caffeine?
Knowing how to proceed in the event of a caffeine overdose will depend above all on the symptoms we experience. In this sense, Hinke comments that cases of severe poisoning are rarebut in case of doubt, above all If dealing with the symptoms is complicated (for example, recurrent vomiting without the possibility of rehydration), “it is best to go to our medical center closest to prevent more serious complications.
Regarding repeated vomiting, the nutritionist indicates that “an electrolyte imbalance may occur, since a significant amount of water and minerals are lost, such as potassium, which are essential for the functioning of our body.” At this point, she emphasizes that “the only thing we can do in a serious case is try to alleviate the symptoms until our body metabolizes the excess caffeine.”
Tips for Moderating Caffeine Consumption
Stopping caffeine suddenly is not recommended because, as already indicated, it can trigger withdrawal symptoms. “If we are used to drinking caffeinated drinks every day, the ideal is always to gradually reduce. Opting for decaffeinated versions also helps,” Hinke says, though he reminds that these drinks actually contain caffeine, too, just less.
carter suggests opt for healthier alternatives like green teawhich contains less of this component, but provides beneficial antioxidants and remember: “Not only coffee contains caffeine, but also tea, soft drinks, chocolate, energy drinks and some medicines.”
On the benefits that moderate caffeine consumption may have, the nutritionist of distinguishes the following:
- Stimulant and increased energy. It can improve concentration, focus, and alertness.
- Greater physical performance by helping to reduce the perception of effort and increase resistance. Also, it can delay muscle fatigue and improve reaction time.
- Increased metabolic rate, which implies a greater burning of calories. This can be beneficial for those who want to maintain or lose a healthy weight.
- Improved cognitive function. This substance has been observed to improve memory, reaction time, attention, and overall cognitive function. It can be especially useful in situations that require optimal mental performance.
- antioxidant effect. Caffeine is a natural antioxidant that protects the body against oxidative stress and reduces the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, as well as certain types of cancer.
- Promotes liver health. Studies suggest that moderate caffeine consumption may be associated with a decreased risk of liver disease.
Of course, Hilke insists: “If we want to continue benefiting from its stimulating effect, it is advisable not to abuse or depend on it.. The more we consume it, the faster our body metabolizes it, reducing its effect.