Caffeine: Positive and Negative Effects – Food&Nutrition Example

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"Caffeine: Positive and Negative Effects" is a perfect example of a paper on food and nutrition. Caffeine is a plant product that is commonly found in common beverages like coffee beans, tea, soft drinks, cocoa, and chocolate. Caffeine is fat-soluble thus passes easily through stomach membranes and is absorbed into the blood. It stimulates the central nervous system, heart, muscles, and the centers that control blood pressure, and its effects can last up to six hours after consumption. Caffeineachieves most of its effects by blocking adenosine. Adenosine is a competitive inhibitor of adenosine A1  receptors which are the most abundant receptors in the brain.

This means that caffeine runs through the body and occupies the active sites of the enzyme phosphodiesterase which is the enzyme that degrades adenosine. These results are supported by a study done by David Elmenhorst, MD, lead author of in vitro studies (Worobey, Tepper & Kanarek, 2006). Positive Effects                       Metabolism: Caffeine promotes glucose utilization in the cells and fatty acid oxidation. In some instances, caffeine can increase the breakdown of nutrients when one is at rest. More metabolisms occur when one is at rest after caffeine consumption as opposed to when one has not taken caffeine and is at rest.

Caffeine also relaxes smooth muscles and is the reason why after taking caffeine one feels the need to use the bathroom.                       Sympathetic nervous system: this is the part of the nervous system that is involved with the body’ s fight or flight response which is controlled by adrenaline. Caffeine causes adrenal glands to release more adrenaline. This stimulating hormone adds to the feelings of alertness and energy (Ruiz, Strain & Lowinson, 2011).                       Mental improvement: caffeine affects blood flow in the brain.

Low doses of caffeine have been seen to result in an increase in efficiency of transmissions in the brain, consequently improving wakefulness in cases of reduced alertness, concentration, decision making, problem-solving, the faster and clearer flow of thought, and general muscle coordination.                       Athletic performance: caffeine is known to have ergogenic benefits and thus can improve physical performance during exercises. Caffeine accelerates the metabolism of free fats in the body which provides more energy to an athlete improving their endurance.

This increases motor neurons. As a result, there is an increase in the firing of skeletal muscle motor units which means better energy utilization and lower levels of exhaustion. Therefore an athlete is able to keep up the same intensity of exercise for a longer time (Ries, 2009).                       Mood: by increasing the transmission of dopamine, a hormone in the brain that passes signals, caffeine improves our mood. Studies by Quinlan et al have shown that caffeine consumption leads to mood elevation and a decrease or increase in anxiety especially in individuals with anxiety disorders.

A change in caffeine doses in these people would cause symptoms to occur. Negative effects of caffeine                       Withdrawal: withdrawal effects include headaches, difficulty to concentrate and sleep, pain in joints. These symptoms are a result of the responses of the body to the presence of caffeine. These effects are usually contrary to the initial effects of caffeine (elevated moods, increased energy, alertness, etc. ). They could be brought about by excessive consumption and abuse of caffeine.                       Pregnancy: caffeine can cross the human placenta and accumulate to very high levels in the fetus.

Caffeine causes withdrawal effects in mothers during labor, restricts of fetal growth (fetus’ system would take longer to break down caffeine and release it, therefore more energy is used in breaking down caffeine when it should have been used for growth) and increased the risk of miscarriages. A study by Bech et al shows that babies born to mothers who took caffeine weighed less (Preedy & Royal Society of Chemistry, 2012).                       Gateway: studies have suggested that caffeine could be a gateway into the abuse of other, more harmful substances like nicotine and alcohol.

Roland Griffiths from John Hopkins University published a paper outlining the dangers of consuming energy drinks containing caffeine. He said that students who took energy drinks were more likely to engage in alcohol and other harmful substances (Lowinson, 2005).                       Dependency:   caffeine is a stimulant for the nervous system has been seen to cause mild physical dependency in cases of prolonged use. An abrupt stop of caffeine consumption may cause symptoms like nausea, headaches, fatigue, to occur. Dependency on caffeine could in turn cause other long-term health risks that come with excessive consumption of caffeine. CONCLUSION                       Caffeine could be of both good and bad to one’ s health depending on how it is used.

Abuse of caffeine could in the long run lead to serious health conditions. Extremely high doses could be lethal as have been shown in studies. On the positive side, it is used in prescription drugs to alleviate some symptoms. Caffeine should be used in the required amounts and right reasons only. The graph below should guide everyone on how not to abuse caffeine.                       This can only happen with awareness of the caffeine levels present in common products that are consumed without knowledge of their contents (Levesque, 2012).        


Levesque, R. J. R. (2012). Encyclopedia of adolescence: Vol. 1. New York: Springer.

Lowinson, J. H. (2005). Substance abuse: A comprehensive textbook. Philadelphia, Penns: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Preedy, V. R., & Royal Society of Chemistry (Great Britain). (2012). Caffeine: Chemistry, analysis, function and effects. Cambridge, U.K: Royal Society of Chemistry.

Ries, R. (2009). Principles of addiction medicine. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Ruiz, P., Strain, E. C., & Lowinson, J. H. (2011). Lowinson and Ruiz's substance abuse: A comprehensive textbook. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Worobey, J., Tepper, B. J., & Kanarek, R. B. (2006). Nutrition and behavior: A multidisciplinary approach. Cambridge, MA: CABI Pub.

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