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There are not many things that can be as pleasurable as the effect of a nice cup of coffee early in the morning, helping you wake up and feel the well-known aroma awakening your senses. While this cherished plethora of emotions is known only by passionate coffee drinkers, many other people beg to differ.

Namely, apart from being refreshing and tasty, coffee makes us aroused, increasing our levels of concentration and awareness. These effects, triggered by caffeine, a substance found in coffee, can lead to addiction and withdrawal symptoms once the effect of the last cup of this beverage wears off.

What Effects Does Caffeine Have?

Once a person consumes coffee, he/she gets exposed to the neurobehavioral and cardiovascular effects of it. Even ancient civilizations were aware of these effects and shepherds noticed that their sheep stayed awake during the night once they had consumed wild coffee berries in the fields.

Yet, regardless of the psychoactive effect of coffee, it is one of the most commonly drank beverages in the world. In fact, an average US citizen drinks about 3.5kg of coffee per year, signifying that he/she has more than 150mg of this beverage each day.

However, regardless of all the positive effects we use coffee for, it is not as healthy as we think. Basically, pregnant women should avoid caffeine in general, due to the fact that it can reach the fetus, affecting its neurobehavioral and cardiovascular health too. Also, besides passing the placenta, caffeine can reach the milk and get through to the child during breastfeeding.

In animals, postnatal consumption of caffeine can lead to a decreased brain weight and learning disabilities. Also, sleep apnea triggered in rats was connected to caffeine consumption too, according to certain research.

Additionally, caffeine dependency, or a condition called caffeinism takes place once an individual starts consuming more than 500mg of caffeine daily, in the long run. If this is the case, the affected individual is bound to show signs of nervousness, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, headaches and heart palpitations.

A bright side of caffeine consumption is decreasing one's chances of suffering from hepatocellular and endometrial cancer. However, researches have shown that this same coffee consumption makes a person more susceptible to bladder cancer. Either way, coffee contains certain amounts of antioxidants and may protect you, should you consume it in controlled moderation.

As it was mentioned above, coffee should be avoided during pregnancy, since it might lead to fetal deformations, miscarriage or even growth retardations. So, not more than 200mg of caffeine per day is recommended.

Some people consume coffee for some other benefits it has in store. For example, in the world of sports, it is used as a diuretic, and many athletes consume it before an important sports event, emptying their bladder. However, if you consume coffee regularly, you become immune to this effect and you need higher dosages in order to achieve this. The constant increase in dosages in order to achieve the desired effect is the main factor leading to health problems related to caffeine in the first place.

Why Should Caffeine Be Avoided?

First of all, caffeine damages your blood vessels, according to recent studies, triggering alterations in the aorta, being the main supply of blood to the heart. Also, this leads to an increase of blood pressure and heart rate.

Caffeine has also been linked to diabetes, since some experts claim that moderate consumption may decrease a person's insulin sensitivity, leading to problems regarding blood sugar processing in the body. This happens because the caffeine has the power to increase the levels of fatty acids in our body, along with epinephrine.

Our body has a rough time dealing with the caffeine we expose it to. In fact, 12 hours are necessary for the coffee to leave the body after it has been consumed. Moreover, the body holds about 1/8 of all the caffeine consumed, increasing a person's susceptibility to heart disease in time.

Furthermore, caffeine leads to increased levels of anxiety and restlessness, some of the leading reasons behind a behavioral disorder called social anxiety.

Caffeine is known to increase the levels of estrogen in women as well, during the early follicular phase, being the first five days of the menstrual cycle, especially if the women are consuming more than 500mg of coffee a day. In these, extreme cases, the estrogen levels in women may be up to 70% higher.

All in all, caffeine can be useful if you use it for waking up in the morning or increasing the levels of your attention during daily tasks. However, you should be careful not to go overboard and get exposed to some of many harmful effects of caffeine. In order to stay safe, you are advised to either avoid coffee completely or consume less than 150mg per day.

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