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Most of us love a cuppa. A cuppa tea, a cuppa coffee, a cuppa hot milo on a rainy day. There’s nothing much better than that morning ‘pick-me-up’ or the caffeine hit when you hit that afternoon slump.
But have you ever wondered how much caffeine your body can actually handle? Or what happens if you consume just that tad too much?
We’ve asked our dietitian, Anna Scobie, a coupla questions about our beloved cuppa.
Caffeine acts as a stimulant — it can make us feel more alert and switched on. The main benefits of caffeine are reduced fatigue and increased alertness and cognitive performance, particularly for simple tasks.
Caffeine affects everyone differently – it all depends on our gender, weight, age and general health. We don’t really have a ‘safe’ limit for caffeine, but most people can tolerate 300-400mg a day (3-4 espresso shots) without any negative side effects.
Pregnant women have a lower threshold of 200mg a day, or the equivalent of 2 espresso shots. This is because the body can’t break down caffeine quickly (slower metabolism), and caffeine can pass via the placenta to the foetus.
Young children (<12 years) shouldn’t have any caffeinated beverages, while teens aged 12-18 years should limit their consumption to 100mg (1 regular latte) a day.
Older studies suggest more than 500-600mg a day (5-6 espresso shots) can cause restlessness, increased anxiety and irritability, higher blood pressure, cardiovascular symptoms and insomnia. It should be noted most of these effects will wear off over time.
Energy drinks that contain caffeine tend to be very high in sugar. Similarly, if we regularly add sugar to our cuppas and consume multiple throughout the day, we might notice weight gain over time, and potentially increase our risk of developing diabetes.
TOP TIP: Ditch the energy drinks (water is best) and try adding a sweetener to your cuppa instead. Getting used to the new taste will take time – roughly 6-8 weeks – but it can be done!
The side effects of caffeine withdrawal are hotly debated. Most research is observational and doesn’t directly investigate the effects of caffeine intake. However, it’s thought that almost anyone can have caffeine withdrawal if they regularly consume caffeine and then stop suddenly, even if they’re only having 2 cups a day.
Common side effects of caffeine withdrawal can include headaches, tiredness and irritability.
If you want to reduce your caffeine intake, but don’t want the withdrawal symptoms, here’s what you can do to minimise the effects: