Your Daily Caffeine Fix May Be Doing More Harm Than Good

paper cup of coffeeIf you're like us, you NEED your morning cup of joe. Just the smell of fresh ground beans can pull open our eyelids, inspire us to work, and, let's be honest -- make us a little nicer. But everything has its downside, and with heavy hearts, we feel compelled to tell you that (sniff) not just coffee, but ALL caffeinated drinks have some serious drawbacks.

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Ninety percent of Americans consume caffeine every single day, and over half of us indulge in over 300 mg of the stuff. How we like to get our daily jolt? Coffee's the #1 choice by far, followed by soda, tea, and the occasional energy drink.

Soda's been getting a bad rap lately for how it affects the human body. (Because, seriously? It is gross.) Much of that can be attributed to ingredients OTHER than caffeine. Like, um, tons of sugar. And that nefarious caramel coloring.

More from The Stir: 10 Ways to Get Your Caffeine Buzz Without Starting Your Coffeemaker (PHOTOS)

But caffeine -- no matter what form it comes in -- can be bad s**t.

See, because it's a central nervous stimulant, caffeine gets into your system quickly. Have, say, just one cup of coffee, and your blood pressure rises 10-15 percent within 15 minutes. After half an hour, you'll notice you feel more energetic and alert. (Although the effects may not peak until one to two hours later.)

But caffeine does a lot more to your body. It can raise the amount of acid in your stomach, causing heartburn. If you have anxiety or sleep problems, it makes them worse. And because caffeine is a diuretic, triggering your body to slough off extra water, you'll be running to the bathroom to pee more frequently.

If you're pregnant, caffeine can cross the placenta wall. Remember that it's a stimulant, so it will cause your baby's heart rate and metabolism to speed up.

Oh! And if you're TRYING to get pregnant, caffeine can interfere. That's because it messes up estrogen production.

More from The Stir: More and More Kids Are Getting Addicted ... to Coffee

"Blah, blah, blah," you're probably saying as you sip your soda or grande pumpkin-spiced something or other. "I'm not drinking enough to cause any problems."

Better make sure: Experts recommend you get no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. And the amount in some drinks may surprise you.

An 8.4 oz. can of Red Bull has 80 mg. Not so much, compared to the normal 90 mg found in a small cup of coffee. But some energy drink brands are TWICE that size, meaning they're packing a serious wallop of caffeine.

Comparatively, the 76 mg in 20 oz. of Diet Coke or 91 mg in the same size of Mountain Dew aren't looking so villainous.

But here's what is: the grande coffee from your favorite coffee place. Which has 320 mg of caffeine.

Overdo it, and you won't just feel jittery and find it impossible to sleep. One Australian study found that too much caffeine can give you psychosis-like symptoms. Your blood pressure skyrockets, your liver can't take it, and you'll get SUPER cranky because too much caffeine starts to interfere with oxygen flow to your brain.

Of course, no one's saying you need to give up your daily joe. Or the occasional soda. But it can't hurt to be aware of what you're putting into your system -- no matter how delicious it is.

 

Image via © gmutlu/iStock

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