Five things to know about caffeine and your health

Watch above: Dr. Samir Gupta discusses five significant health effects of caffeine. 

TORONTO – Logan Stiner, a teenager, in Columbus, Ohio died in May after ingesting too much powdered caffeine.  He had about 23 times the amount of caffeine in his system, as the average coffee drinker.

The teen’s sudden death has focused attention on the potential dangers of unregulated caffeine powder.

It presents a different danger than the occasional coffee – it can easily turn into a high dose of pure caffeine.

A single teaspoon of powdered caffeine can be equivalent to 25 cups of coffee.

“It’s 100 per cent pure caffeine,” Global News medical contributor Dr. Samir Gupta said. “These are doses beyond which we understand the physiological effects of caffeine.”

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But caffeine is widely used and accessible almost anywhere in coffee, tea, soft drinks or energy drinks.

Dr. Samir Gupta discussed five significant health effects of caffeine: both immediate, and long-term, though long-term effects are from observational studies and should be taken with a grain of salt.

1. Caffeine can affect sugar levels

In the short-term, Caffeine actually induces insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance.

But long term, there’s some good news: caffeine has also been associated with a decreased risk of type-2 diabetes.

2. Jet lagged? Have some caffeine

Caffeine has been associated with improving reaction time, learning and decision-making in the short term.

Studies have also suggested caffeine can increase alertness, energy and the ability to concentrate, particularly among people who are fatigued.

3. How does it affect your brain?

There’s no definitive answer to the affect long-term caffeine use has, however, Gupta noted, some studies have suggested a possible link between regular coffee consumption and a decrease in the rate of Alzheimer’s as well as a reduced rate of Parkinson’s disease.

4. Can it improve physiological performance?

Caffeine has been shown to have a positive effect on athletic performance.

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“This may be why this young man was taking it as a wrestler,” Gupta said. “Athletic performance does improve to the point that it’s actually considered a performance enhancer.”

5. Is there a safe amount of coffee? 

Caffeine is a drug and there is no 100 per cent safe drug. So as the cliché goes, everything in moderation.

More than four cups of coffee per day – about 400 milligrams of caffeine – is considered heavy use, Gupta said, noting that is also considered a safe limit of caffeine.  Coffee, tea, cola, and energy drink users should check how much caffeine is in the product that they are consuming.

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