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Stimulants: What is it?

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 167 views

Sweets, coffee, wine: stimulants include foods and substances that are not primarily consumed because of the nutrients they contain, but because they trigger positive feelings. Larger amounts can be harmful to health. Read here what counts as a luxury food and what you should pay attention to when consuming it.

What are stimulants?

Food and substances that are not primarily consumed for nutritional purposes but that either trigger feelings of happiness or have a stimulating or relaxing effect are considered stimulants.

Stimulants include:

  • Coffee
  • Tea (black and green tea and mate )
  • Lemonade
  • sweets
  • Cocoa
  • Alcohol
  • Plate

The effect of stimulants is based on ingredients that interact with messenger substances in the central nervous system. They stimulate the reward center in the brain .

What is perceived as a stimulant varies from person to person. In addition, the dosage is decisive for how good they are for the body. Since stimulants often trigger feelings of happiness in the brain, they can become addictive. Therefore, be particularly careful with alcohol and tobacco.

Luxury foods: this is important!

In addition to the risk of addiction, various ingredients in luxury foods have negative effects if consumed at higher levels. We have an overview for you.


The body responds to larger amounts of sugar by increasing the release of insulin. The hormone transports sugar from the blood into the cells, but it also stimulates dopamine production in the brain’s reward center. In this way, nature has ensured that man supplies himself with energy-rich food that was once in short supply.

Scientists think it is conceivable that high sugar consumption leads to disturbed eating habits and a permanent craving for sweet foods. The blood sugar balance could also get out of balance due to high sugar consumption. Obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are possible consequences.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends consuming a maximum of 25 grams of sugar per day. This amount includes not only white household sugar, but also fruit sugar ( fructose ), which is naturally found in fruit such as grapes and dates, but is also often used as a sweetener in convenience products and lemonades.

The human organism does not tolerate fructose well in large quantities. Depending on how well the gut can channel it into the blood, gut bacteria metabolize the remaining amounts and produce gases. Abdominal pain and bloating are common.


Caffeine has a stimulating effect, increases the ability to concentrate and drives away tiredness. Enjoyment also stimulates the production of the messenger substance dopamine. The concentration of caffeine in coffee is usually higher than in cocoa or tea.

Caffeinated beverages such as black and green tea, cocoa and coffee are not inherently harmful to health. Coffee and green tea, for example, seem to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure and have a beneficial effect on the sugar balance.

However, the caffeine contained in large quantities leads to symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness and tremors. Anyone who regularly consumes large amounts of caffeine, their body reacts with withdrawal symptoms such as headaches .

Read more about caffeine here .


Alcoholic beverages lift the mood, relax and reduce inhibitions. In larger quantities, however, symptoms of poisoning quickly become noticeable, which can lead from intoxication to a coma.

Excessive alcohol consumption is particularly harmful to the brain and nervous system. The risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and liver and kidney damage also increases. Tens of thousands of people die every year in Germany because of excessive alcohol consumption.

As a guideline, men should consume a maximum of 24 grams of pure alcohol per day, which corresponds to around 0.5 to 0.6 liters of beer or 0.25 to 0.3 liters of wine. It’s best for women to stay within the 12-gram limit of pure alcohol—that’s half the amount of alcoholic beverages men should drink in a day.


Tobacco products owe their appeal to the addictive substance nicotine they contain. It increases dopamine production in the brain, creating an immediate sense of well-being in the reward center. At the same time it has a relaxing effect. In addition, nicotine increases alertness and the ability to concentrate.

Smoking is therefore often referred to as a stimulant. It poses significant health risks – even if you only smoke a cigarette occasionally. For example, nicotine increases blood pressure, promotes blood clotting and thus promotes cardiovascular diseases.

Smoking is the reason for almost a third of all cancer cases – mainly for lung cancer, cancer of the throat or esophagus. It is the main cause of the often fatal lung disease COPD, diabetes and aging processes.

There is therefore no tolerance range for smoking. Only by consistently avoiding cigarettes can you protect your body from damage to your health.


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