There have always been many myths about coffee and caffeine. For a long time, coffee was considered to be a disease-causer, partly because of its high caffeine content. In addition, each of you probably still remembers that coffee supposedly dehydrates the body. Today, thanks to numerous studies, the positive properties of coffee are increasingly coming to the fore. But what is true? Is caffeine a poison that makes us sick? Or is coffee consumption in moderation perhaps even healthy? We have compiled the most important information for you.
What is caffeine actually?
Caffeine is classified as a psychoactive substance with stimulating and energising effects. Means: Caffeine increases nerve activity, accelerates and improves it.
Where does caffeine come from?
Caffeine is a natural substance that belongs to the alkaloids and occurs in our nature. Strictly speaking, caffeine is a poison. Plants can keep pests at bay with the help of this substance. The poison serves as a protection against feeding by stunning or killing insects. In nature, we find caffeine for example in the seeds of the coffee bush, in cocoa beans, in the mate tree, in the kola nut and in guaran tree seeds. Means: we consume caffeine through the consumption of coffee, tea, cocoa and chocolate.
So we are ingesting poison?
Strictly speaking, yes. BUT only in very small quantities. An adult would have to take ten grams of caffeine for a lethal dose - that would be over 330 cups of espresso. We love coffee, but 330 cups a day? That's impossible even for fragrant lovers... fortunately!
Which foods contain caffeine and how much?
Here is a small list of foods that contain caffeine with approximate amounts. Did you know that chocolate contains caffeine?
Filter coffee 200ml: approx. 160 milligrams
Espresso 40ml: approx. 40 milligrams
Black tea 200ml: approx. 65 milligrams
Mate 200ml: approx. 40 milligrams
Cola 200ml: approx. 25 milligrams
Energy Drink 200ml: approx. 65 milligrams
Cocoa 200ml: approx. 7 milligrams
Dark chocolate 100g: approx. 90 milligrams
Milk chocolate 100g: approx. 15 milligrams
The effect of caffeine
After 30 - 45 minutes we feel the effect of the caffeine. The substance enters the bloodstream via the gastrointestinal tract and is distributed throughout the body. The effect occurs more quickly in some people and more slowly in others. It is not yet known why this is so.
An energising effect sets in: Tiredness and exhaustion disappear, activity in the brain and concentration are increased, and thus the well-being and mood are often positively influenced.
Since the blood vessels in the brain constrict due to the caffeine, a cup of coffee can also help against mild headaches, for example. The blood vessels far from the heart dilate, which means that the muscles receive more oxygen and thus performance during sport is increased.
Caffeine intake causes the pulse to go up slightly; if coffee is consumed infrequently, blood pressure may also rise for a short time. It stimulates the kidneys, digestion, lungs and liver. Coffee is also said to be good for diabetes patients, as caffeine improves insulin action.
So if we consume coffee in normal quantities, these are all positive side effects of caffeine. If we consume too much coffee, it quickly becomes noticeable in our body. Too much caffeine causes restlessness, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, tremors, nausea and insomnia.
It takes three to five hours for the body to break down the caffeine again and thus for the side effects to subside.
How much caffeine is safe?
How much coffee can we consume without having to reckon with unpleasant side effects? Studies show that adults can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine throughout the day, which corresponds to about four to five cups of filter coffee. Of course, the general rule is: listen to your body! Drink only as much coffee as is good for you and make sure you feel well. Everyone's caffeine sensitivity is different - some people tolerate more, others less - just like with alcohol. If you have a higher caffeine sensitivity, suffer from high blood pressure or are pregnant, caffeine should only be consumed in small amounts. Pregnant women are advised not to consume more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day.
Does coffee dry out the body?
Coffee is a stimulant and should certainly not be used as a thirst quencher. Water is much more suitable for this, but the old myth that coffee dehydrates the body is definitely not true. So you can include your coffee in your daily fluid requirement of about 2 litres.
If you get a small glass of water with your espresso in the café, it is not to replace the lost liquid but to neutralise the taste. You drink the water in advance so that you can fully enjoy the coffee aroma.
Speaking of enjoyment! You see: enjoying your favourite coffee in moderation is not harmful at all - quite the opposite. Numerous studies show that caffeine has positive effects on our bodies. With this in mind... Cheers!