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Caffeine Review: Is the World’s Favorite Superdrug Really That Great?

By Rob Poulos...

You could call it the world’s favorite stimulant drug.

Of course, we’re not talking about amphetamine, nicotine, or even ephedrine.  And no, it’s not every college student’s favorite drug of choice, Adderall.

It, surprisingly, is caffeine.  90 percent of American adults consume it daily, and the number is expected to rise.

In small doses, caffeine can do wonders.  Acting as a central nervous system stimulant, it helps keep drowsiness at bay, allowing people to work or exercise harder.  It’s also a key ingredient in many diet aids–mainly because it’s also reputed to drive your hunger away.

But is caffeine really the super drug that should stay popular–or even legal?  This review will keep you informed.

Caffeine: What is It?

Most of us know the basics of caffeine: A cup of it will keep our brains hard-wired for activity.  It’s found in coffee, carbonated beverages, and most energy drinks.  There are even cafes that thrive on the sale of caffeinated beverages, such as Starbucks and Caribou Coffee.

But what is it really?

Well, here’s the real scoop.

Caffeine is a stimulant drug, found naturally in the seeds and fruits of some plants.  Plants use caffeine because it acts as a natural pesticide against bugs.  Caffeine kills it, but somewhere down the evolutionary line, humans began harvesting it and figured out it did much more.

In nature, it’s not too hard to find a good source of caffeine.  Kola nuts and guarana berries are big carriers, as well as Mate plant and the Yaupon holly.  To get a good dose of this caffeine, people usually make a brew out of the plant.  The most common form of this is coffee, although yerba mate is also popular in South America.  Some companies also add it artificially to beverages, such as carbonated soda.

The result: A great way to take a drug that gives you a natural, stimulant high.  And it’s legal.

Benefits of Caffeine

Despite bearing the moniker of a stimulant drug, caffeine has a surprising amount of benefits: As well as being a natural energy booster, it may even reduce your risk for certain diseases.

For instance, a pool of studies show that caffeine consistently reduced caffeine drinkers’ risk of Parkinson’s disease by 80 percent.  Those who drank caffeine regularly also faced a lower risk of colon cancer–a lowered risk of 20 percent, according to researchers.  If you have a family history of cirrhosis or gallstones, there’s even better news: Caffeine drinkers faced a significantly lower risk of developing these conditions.

Dieters are also in for a bigger surprise–it may act as an appetite suppressant.  According to Mayo Clinic nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky, caffeine may temporarily reduce your appetite, though that alone won’t help you lose weight.

Disadvantages of Caffeine

Although caffeine can do a body good–in moderation–consuming too much caffeine can cause unwanted side effects.  According to researchers, consuming more than 250 milligrams of caffeine per day can cause nervousness, irritability, and insomnia; some people may even develop heart palpitations.  At 300 milligrams, the effects are even worse–it can worsen anxiety and trigger manic-like symptoms.  If you want to avoid this, then do the smart thing–drink your caffeine in moderation.

Verdict: Caffeine is a good thing, but it’s not a miracle worker.  And, of course, drink it in moderation.

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