Here at the Zim’s blog we are constantly looking for ways to live a healthier life. What should we eat? What should we drink? How should we exercise etc.? One of the questions that constantly comes up in this endeavor is: what about caffeine? Can it be part of a healthy lifestyle or should it be avoided? Today we are going to look into these questions.

Caffeine is a natural stimulant most commonly found in tea, coffee and cacao plants. Most people get their caffeine from liquids especially coffee and sodas. In fact, 64% of Americans currently consume coffee every day. This is what has led to successful coffee chains like Starbucks and Beans and Brews.

On its own coffee can have positive qualities. It can help you feel energized and happy. Studies have shown coffee improves aspects of brain function like memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and more.

The problem is people load the coffee up with unhealthy sugars, creams and other ingredients in their lattes and other fancy drinks. These sugars are also obviously part of the problem with sugary colas and caffeinated sodas.

Part of the benefit of caffeine is how quickly it is absorbed into the bloodstream. This makes it an ideal pick me up when we are feeling low in energy. It functions by blocking neurotransmitters which tell the brain to relax and calm down. Normally these transmitters tell the brain to slow down getting you ready to sleep at night. “This combination further stimulates the brain and promotes a state of arousal, alertness, and focus.”

However, all these uppers can cause problems when we are trying to calm down and are especially bad for anyone with insomnia or difficulties sleeping.

Caffeine can also be habit forming and lead to increased anxiety, restlessness, irregular heartbeat and more. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or any other health concern speak to your doctor about how much caffeine is safe to consume.

Because coffee and sodas can be a social experience it’s easy to get caught up consuming more caffeine than we initially intended. Keeping a food journal an help us be cognizant of our choices and make sure we aren’t overdoing it on the caffeine.

Just like most products caffeine can be part of a healthy diet. The key is how we consume it and if it is right for us and our body’s needs.

What about you? Do you love a good cup of coffee or soda each day? How do you keep your caffeine intake under control as part of a healthy diet? Let us know in the comments section.