For some of you, this topic will be of no concern, but for others, many others, this is going to be tough. You’re going to hate for me suggesting taking away something akin to your baby’s blankie…. Yes – I’m going to challenge some of you to try a caffeine free week or at the very least, reduce your consumption.
Last week I talked about adrenal fatigue and one of the biggest contributors is caffeine so it’s worthy of its own post. That’s not to say coffee is all bad, it most certainly isn’t in small doses, but if you suffer from any of the negative effects of caffeine, I seriously recommend you test out for yourself if this could be the cause.
So first let’s take a look at the health benefits of caffeine…
• Great for keeping you alert
• Improves happiness and sense of wellbeing
• Boosts athletic performance
• Can help reduce muscle pain
• Aids some medications in being absorbed
• May help to burn fat and sugar
• Is an antioxidant
• May help some disease prevention such as Parkinson’s
• Can be a relief for asthmatic symptoms
And now the bad news…
• Cardiovascular Problems
Just 4 cups of coffee (or drinks with equivalent caffeine) can raise blood pressure for many hours, levels of which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Caffeine increases hormones and elevates your perception of stress. A cup early in the morning can have lasting effects the whole day. Stress we know is a cause of many diseases and conditions such as cancer.
• Irritability, Restlessness, Insomnia, Agitation
It only takes in excess of 2g of caffeine in the body for the heart to become stimulated and blood vessels dilate. Shortly after this, blood pressure increases, causing bronchial relaxation in the lungs and rapid breathing, resulting in the above symptoms.
• Blood Sugar Swings
A particular concern for Type 2 diabetics as caffeine may impair insulin’s action, causing a detectable rise in blood sugar levels. It takes only 2 to 2½ cups per day to have an effect.
• Gastrointestinal Problems
As a stimulant, caffeine can cause increased contractions of stomach muscles which may cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea and increased bowel movements. Sufferers of IBS, Crohn’s disease and Colitis may be more susceptible.
• Nutritional Deficiencies
Caffeine actually hinders the absorption of some nutrients and causes us to excrete through our urine some necessary minerals: calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and trace minerals. We need these in our body for optimal functioning.
• Health Concerns for Men
Urinary and prostate problems are significantly reduced for with dietary changes that include eliminating coffee and caffeine.
• Health Concerns for women
Caffeine consumption is known to exacerbate Fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, osteoporosis, infertility problems, miscarriage, low birth weight, and menopausal problems such as hot flushes. Women on birth control pills are particularly at risk since they tend to have a decreased ability to detoxify caffeine.
Production of vital hormones declines with age naturally but caffeine further speeds up this decline. What’s more, a reduced tolerance for caffeine is often displayed with aging but reduced consumption isn’t. The problem here is that caffeine dehydrates the body which contributes to aging of the skin and kidneys, inhibits DNA repair and slows the ability of the liver to detoxify foreign toxins.
• Adrenal Fatigue
Caffeine is a stimulant which binds to adenosine receptors in the brain. This leads to a range of complex reactions, increases of stimulation at the adrenal glands. This can cause the low energy, exhausted, run down feeling that goes beyond having just had a couple of late nights. I wrote about this here http://lorrainewallace.com/are-you-sick-of-feeling-tired-rundown/
My husband and I have never been regular coffee drinkers, however, a couple of years back, Stuart went through a phase of having a cup every evening. It took about 2 weeks to work out that this was the cause of insomnia for that period, which he’d never suffered from. As soon as stopped, he went back to his normal sleep pattern. Some people it affects, some it doesn’t.
Do what works for YOU!
Try not to get caught up in recommendations for specific quantities, what’s important is to know how it affects you personally, not your friend down the road. Not everyone will be negatively affected. Some people go their whole lives experiencing absolutely no negative effects, but many do and the results can range from mild to severe. So if any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, I challenge you to try a caffeine free period for a week, or reduce the quantity, and see how you feel.
A word of warning: Caffeine is an addiction for some people. Withdrawing it can initially give you unwanted symptoms such as headaches, drowsiness, lethargy, cold-like symptoms, anxiety and irritability. If you are a heavy consumer of caffeine, it may be wise to withdraw gradually. Rest assured though, these symptoms pass as your body cleanses itself.
Try decaffeinated coffee if you still need the coffee taste, otherwise take it as an opportunity to try something different, herbal tea, green tea, smoothies…
Remember it’s all about YOU and how YOU feel and only you can test this.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you given up or reduced caffeine? How did it affect you? Or are you planning to try a caffeine free week? Let me know in the comments below, in Facebook or email.