Caffeine and Alcohol as health tonics: Just how much is real and how much is myth

Despite coffee and alcohol both having drugs, a stimulant and depressant respectively, they’ve stayed ingrained in our culture for a long time. Another interesting fact about the is that they’ve gone from being unhealthy yet socially acceptable because of how long we’ve been using them and how dependent people are on them, to healthy because of controlled scientific experiments. Coffee seems to help with things like Cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, even erectile dysfunction while alcohol supposedly helps with stroke, obesity, heart disease, and more. But there’s one thing these two have in common: and that’s being used in moderation. These drink need to tow the fine line between too much and just right.

However, what is “just right”? The only thing that scientists seem to agree on is the ever changing amount of “just right” as each new researches to come out redefines what that amount is.

Don’t fret though, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has released a report that has identified the recommended amount of caffeine after going through multiple papers to find the optimized dose. The EFSA says that about 400mg/day should be just right. How much does that mean? That’s about five espresso shots or four 8-oz coffee cups. The same report also states that pregnant women should not consume more than 200 mg per day.

While we have a number for coffee, alcohol is a different beast. Alcohol is much more dangerous than coffee at higher doses. Experts used to recommend no more than one drink a day for women, and two for men. A new study, however, says that you’ll need to lessen that amount as you age. The American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging says that people over 71 who drink moderately risk enlarging their heart’s central pump: the left ventricle. What’s worse is women are especially sensitive to this.

According to the study’s author, Alexandra Gonçalves: “In spite of potential benefits of low alcohol intake, our findings highlight the possible hazards to cardiac structure and function by increased amounts of alcohol consumption in the elderly, particularly among women. This reinforces the U.S. recommendations stating that those who drink should do so with moderation.” REC

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