To Limit Caffeine, Try the Benefits of Green Tea
Most people can take in some caffeine without negative effects, and reputable sources, such as the Mayo Clinic or medlineplus.gov, suggest we’re safe consuming up to 400 mg per day. But what do you do if you’re more sensitive to caffeine’s effects?
What are the side effects from too much caffeine?
As mentioned, consuming up to 400mg of caffeine a day isn't harmful for most people. But others are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine. Drinking more caffeine than your system can handle may cause health problems, such as
- Restlessness and shakiness
- Rapid or abnormal heart rhythm
- Dependency, so you need to take more of it to get the same results
Who should avoid or limit caffeine?
You should check with your health care provider about whether you should limit or avoid caffeine if you
- Have anxiety
- Have high blood pressure
- Have GERD (acid reflux) or ulcers
- Have fast or irregular heart rhythms
- Have sleep disorders, including insomnia
- Have migraines or other chronic headaches
- Are pregnant, because caffeine passes through the placenta to your baby
- Are breastfeeding, because a small amount of caffeine you consume passes on to your baby
- Are a child or teen, who shouldn’t have as much caffeine as adults. Children can be especially sensitive to its effects.
- Take certain medicines or supplements, including stimulants, certain antibiotics, asthma medicines, and heart medicines. Caffeine may interact with your medicines and supplements.
If you need to limit caffeine but not avoid it entirely, a good bet is to drop regular coffee and energy drinks. Consuming smaller amounts of caffeine, rather than going “cold turkey” to zero, may help you avoid caffeine withdrawal. Although these symptoms usually go away after a couple of days, they’re no fun while they last:
- Difficulty concentrating
To reduce caffeine gradually, you could drink decaffeinated coffee (2-5 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. cup), which does have some health benefits. Or you can enjoy the benefits of green tea, which has caffeine, but only 25-27 mg per cup.
Is green tea good for you?
Definitely! In fact, some knowledgeable people believe green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet. It’s full of antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful positive effects on the body.
Kris Gunnars, BSc, writing on healthline.com, analyzes several health benefits of green tea confirmed in research studies. But we’ll just summarize eight important ones here:
1. Green tea contains bioactive compounds that improve health. For example, polyphenols like flavonoids and catechins are powerful antioxidants. These substances can reduce free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage, thus combatting aging and all sorts of diseases.
2. Compounds in green tea can improve brain function. The key active ingredient is caffeine, which is a known stimulant. Many studies show green tea has just enough caffeine to improve mood, vigilance, reaction time, and memory. But it also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which fights anxiety and produces alpha waves in the brain.
3. Green tea increases fat burning and improves physical performance. It’s often on the list of ingredients in fat-burning supplements because it boosts our metabolic rate, oxidizes fat, and enables us to expend more energy.
4. Antioxidants in green tea may lower your risk of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer. Because oxidants contribute to the development of cancer, green tea’s powerful antioxidants may reduce this risk. Studies are mixed, but some have shown these reductions reach 22% for breast cancer, 48% for prostate cancer, and 57% for colorectal cancer. (Note: The Food and Drug Administration stated in 2005 that no credible evidence exists to prove beneficial effects of green tea on cancers.)
5. Green tea may protect your brain in old age, lowering your risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Several studies show the catechin compounds in green tea can protect neurons in test tubes and animal models, so this protective effect could transfer to humans and lower risks for these two neurodegenerative disorders.
6. Green tea can kill bacteria to improve dental health and lower your risk of infection. This effect also stems from its catechin compounds, which some studies show can kill bacteria and inhibit viruses like influenza, potentially lowering your risk of infections. They also reduce tooth decay and can reduce bad breath.
7. Green tea may lower your risk of type II diabetes. According to a review of seven studies with a total of 286,701 individuals, green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic. That’s because it can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
8. Green tea may reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. It does so by increasing antioxidants in the blood, which can lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Studies have shown green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Have you had to limit caffeine and switched to green tea? Do you have stories of improved health because of its disease-fighting properties? If so, please share with us on the benefits of green tea in the Comments section below.
Sources for information about caffeine and green tea
Kris Gunnars, BSc, “Ten Proven Benefits of Green Tea,” at www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea
Paula Spencer Scott, “Green Tea Health Benefits,” at http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/health-benefits-of-green-tea#1
Megan Ware RDN LD, “Green tea: Health benefits, side effects, and research,” http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269538.php