There is an underground parental religious cult in this country that has gone unnoticed by those who do not have kids. That’s pretty profound considering that it is practiced openly, even brazenly, in the presence of non-parents. Its main tenets are that of wakefulness, energy, and perseverance in the face of unfathomable fatigue. And many practitioners happily give daily offerings to the goddess which rules them: a topless deity with a crown and two fish tails. It is, of course, the cult of the caffeinated.
Cults are generally considered bad for your health. That being said, is the parental cult of heavy caffeine intake really a problem? Medical research seems to be pretty clear on the answer.
What’s The Deal With Caffeine?
Caffeine, like mescaline, psilocybin, and alcohol is a psychoactive drug. Which is to say that it can cross the blood/brain barrier in order to have a direct effect on the central nervous system. That effect can either be an alteration of mood, perception, consciousness or behavior. It’s also one of the few socially acceptable psychoactive drugs for parents. Just try showing up at a kid’s birthday party with a mescaline frappuccino. Come on, Hunter S. Thompson would have gotten away with it.
Nationwide, the average intake of caffeine is about 300 mg per day. More than that, about 90 percent of people in the U.S. take some form of caffeine or another on a daily basis. It is, by far, the most popular drug from coast-to-coast.
Researchers believe that caffeine primarily works by blocking a neuromodulator known as adenosine, which helps promote sleep and inhibits the activity of the central nervous system. This apparently allows you to get jacked up and keeps you from literally dying from lack of sleep at work.
The Bad Side Of Caffeine
There are some problems associated with caffeine. Like most things, if you ingest enough of it, it can kill you. But for most folks that would require 140 cups of coffee in one day. Although you might be cutting it close to that if you happen to have a sleepless 1-year-old.
For normal folks, a dose of caffeine above 400 mg could result in bad things like insomnia, a fast heartbeat, nervousness, shakes and irritability (all of which your kid gives you anyway). Of course, all of these things are mitigated by how much you weigh, how much caffeine you normally get, and whether or not you’re a dude. Turns out guys are a bit more sensitive to the stuff.
Also, caffeine can breed dependence. Withdrawal symptoms might include headaches and a desire to tell people to go f–k themselves.
The Good Side Of Caffeine
With the generally-not-that-bad stuff in mind, research suggests that caffeine may actually be pretty damn good for you. Here is what research says right now:
Fighting Cancer Risks
Turns out that caffeine intake can actually reduce the risk of some pretty nasty cancers. There is research to suggest that it might reduce the risk of colon cancer, liver cancer, skin cancer, and mouth and throat cancer. So heavy drinkers who smoke, live in the Bahamas, and hate fiber may want to listen up.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have found that caffeine can be used to boost your memory. The scientists found that participants who took a 200 mg caffeine tablet after a study session scored better on a deep memory test 24 hours later than those who remained caffeine free. This may be the reason you never forget to brew your cuppa in the morning.
Helping Workout Performance
A study published in The Journal Of Nutrition, Health And Aging suggests that older adults might benefit from a dose of caffeine before a workout. The researchers found that it increased manual dexterity and helped the body get ready to “invest effort”. Do you even lift … A coffee cup, bro?
Conducting a review of recent studies, one group of researchers found that people who took a combination of ibuprofen and caffeine were able to manage pain better than those with just ibuprofen alone. They concluded the best dose was approximately 200 mg of ibuprofen taken with 100 mg of caffeine, or essentially a strong cup of coffee. Obviously, this is your new hangover cure.
Helping Heart Health
Coffee, in particular, has been linked to lower risks of diseases related to the heart. That includes coronary artery disease and stroke. Swedish doctor and coffee hero Susanna Larsson determined with her colleagues that 3 cups of coffee a day just might be what it takes to help out your ticker, and not letting it kill you in general.
The upshot of all of this is that there is no need to hide your connection to the caffeine cult. In fact, you may just want to set up a shrine to the mermaid you worship. Or actually, no, there’s one right down the block anyway.