Caffeine is a stimulant that is commonly found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, soft drinks, chocolate, and some medications. It can have both positive and negative effects on health, depending on the amount consumed and individual sensitivity. I evaluate diet diaries every day as a Naturopathic Doctor. After twenty years in practise, nothing surprises anymore. However I do notice trends over time and one that worries me is the amount of caffeine teens, even as young as 11, are consuming on a regular basis.
Here are some important considerations regarding caffeine and specifically teen health:
1. Sleep Disruption: Caffeine consumption, especially in the afternoon or evening, can disrupt sleep patterns, making it harder for teens to get the recommended amount of sleep. This can lead to fatigue, reduced cognitive function, and mood disturbances. Sleep is number one in my books for anyone and most teens don't get enough.
2. Anxiety and Jitters: High doses of caffeine can lead to anxiety, nervousness, and restlessness, which can be especially problematic for teens who are already dealing with stress and anxiety. Calm Those Nerves tea along some individual naturopathic medical strategies, nutrition, and supplements can be a wonderful addition.
3. Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: Caffeine can temporarily raise heart rate and blood pressure, which may not be suitable for teens with underlying cardiovascular issues or anxiety.
4. Dependency: Regular consumption of caffeine can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches and irritability when caffeine intake is reduced.
5. Displacement of Nutrient-Rich Beverages/Foods: Teens who consume excessive caffeine may displace nutrient-dense foods or water, which are essential for their overall health and development. Teenage girls are more likely to consume a caffeinated beverage instead of a proper snack in order to suppress appetite.
6. Digestive Issues: Some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort, such as acid reflux or upset stomach, when consuming caffeine and this effect can be amplified in teens.
Recommendations for Teens:
1. Moderation: It's essential for teens to consume caffeine in moderation. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that adolescents should consume no more than 100 mg of caffeine per day, roughly the amount found in one 8-ounce cup of coffee. Keep in mind 100 grams of chocolate has 43 mg of caffeine. Clinically I see very few teens that can handle 100 mg of caffeine a day, physically or mentally. It is already a time of great hormone transition and different social stressors; adding caffeine to this mix is never a great idea.
2. Timing: Encourage teens to avoid caffeine in the hours leading up to bedtime to protect their sleep quality and focus on non-caffeinated beverages that encourage calming the nervous system like Calm Those Nerves tea.
3. Stay Hydrated: Make sure teens are drinking enough water in addition to a nutrient-dense diet.
4. Be Aware of Sources: Teach teens to read labels and be aware of hidden sources of caffeine in products like energy drinks and certain medications and chocolate!
5. Individual Sensitivity: Some individuals are more sensitive to caffeine than others. Encourage teens to pay attention to how caffeine affects their own bodies and make choices accordingly.
It is important for teens and their parents to be aware of its potential negative effects and make informed choices regarding its consumption. Equipping teenagers with the knowledge, tools, and strategies to lead a balanced and healthy life is essential!
We recently came back from a weekend vacation and I was pleasantly surprised by the teens on the beach and at the pool that were enjoying the sun and their families and not on their phones. Proof it happens, albeit probably not without challenges.
Here are some tips to encourage and motivate teens to engage in more outdoor and offline activities.