As published on WatchFit
In the UK people consume 70 million cups of coffee a day. Most of us understand that caffeine is habit-forming but we may not understand the affects it has on our health, and one of the reasons why caffeine is so hard to give up is that we may develop a strong dependency on it for a number of physiological, psychological and emotional reasons.
– Physiological: Caffeine has measurable physical effects in the body, increasing our pulse, heart rate and respiration.
– Psychological: We love to share the caffeine ritual with friends.
– Emotional: We look forward to the times of day when we consume caffeine as treasured, oasis-like moments.
Many of us develop deep-seated habits specific to our caffeine consumption: Some people drink coffee to wake up in the morning or right before an important meeting, others have a caffeinated drink after lunch because they think it keeps them awake.
Over time, we find that our response to caffeine changes so that, ultimately, we aren’t in charge anymore – the body needs caffeine to feel “normal” or have energy. When we try to ignore the desire for caffeine, we find ourselves experiencing withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are often uncomfortable enough to cause some to surrender to caffeine dependency.
In fact drinking coffee has become so addictive that some people can’t get through the day without downing several cups in the morning, noon and night. It has even evolved into a social drink, with consumers spending generously on sugar-loaded concoctions from numerous chains of coffee shops that have become giant brands.
Coffee and toxins
Drinking coffee daily can compound toxins in your body. This toxic exposure and overload can increase your risk of insomnia, stroke and Heart Disease.
Unless you drink organic coffee, it is very likely that the plants and beans have been exposed to pesticides that contribute to several cancers and Parkinson’s disease. Coffee is also known to disrupt absorption of vitamins and minerals that are essential for your body to function properly.
The caffeine doesn’t have any nutritional value either and has been linked to diabetes. In pregnant women, it increases the risk of having a miscarriage or a low birth weight baby.
– Heart disease
– High cholesterol levels
– Fluid loss in your body
– Rheumatoid Arthritis
– Damaged blood vessels
– Anxiety symptoms
– Liver: caffeine is a drug-like substance and the liver immediately sets about clearing it from the system
– Brain: caffeine has some potent psychoactive effects that make it habit-forming, if you’ve been consuming a lot of caffeine every day, you’ll notice unpleasant symptoms as you reduce your intake.
On average, it takes the body about 5–8 hours to eliminate caffeine, and your caffeine intake can impact your liver function. If you are continuously drinking caffeine the body is continually trying to get rid of (detox) the caffeine putting your liver under strain as it has over 500 other tasks to perform and will begin to be overburdened.
Simple and effective ways to cut back or eliminate caffeine
– Time your quit date to coincide with a vacation, so you won’t fall under any peer-pressure
– Enjoy a massage or other treatment as a reward rather than caffeine
– Provide nutritional support — include good quality protein and good fats to keep cravings to a minimum.
– Drink at least 2-3 litres of pure water – water is the ultimate thirst-quenching, health-promoting drink.
– Go for a walk and listen to your favourite music – find ways to reduce stress – this will also ease symptoms of withdrawal. Consider acupuncture, gentle exercise and meditation.
For most people, it’s probably a lot easier and less painful to detox from caffeine a little at a time. Start the day with hot water and lemon rather than caffeine and if you need to have coffee ensure that you have it before 12 noon and then continue to reduce this over a few days. If your goal is total abstinence for health reasons you may decide to quit right away or taper off and then give up coffee altogether.
Common symptoms of caffeine “withdrawal”
Here are some common symptoms of withdrawal to be aware of:
– Headaches (A throbbing, pressure-type headache is the most common symptom of both “overdose” and withdrawal.)
– Daytime drowsiness
– Inability to focus
– Reduced sense of well-being
You may notice these symptoms as your system adjusts to lower levels of caffeine, but most symptoms should disappear after a week without caffeine. You can also supplement with extra vitamin C and as mentioned above take regular breaks, enjoy a walk, and get to bed on time.
Note: For some people, the love affair with caffeine is complicated by its presence in many over-the-counter and prescription drugs, or by close associations with other habits like nicotine. In these cases, I would recommend a supported natural and herbal detox – remove the caffeine and add in more support
This is because it is your liver that breaks caffeine down so you can eliminate it from your body. I recommend you speak to a Nutritional Therapist about this and specific supplements that can support the liver as it goes through the detox process.
–Natural and supported detox
–vitamin C (also helps with withdrawal symptoms and supports adrenal function)
-amino acids (may also help balance energy levels)
You can greatly reduce stress on your liver by eliminating foods and drinks that are likely to contain toxins or allergens, and make sure to eat enough protein. An alkaline diet is good for your health for many reasons it provides the mineral salts and antioxidants that help during detoxification.
One of the best tips for cutting down on caffeine is to drink a big glass of pure water or a cup of warm water with half a freshly squeezed lemon immediately upon waking, before you take in any caffeine. That helps quench simple thirst. Then eat your breakfast as soon as possible, making sure it includes clean protein.
Stay on top
If you’re worried you might lose your edge if you quit caffeine, consider this: your body and mind are not designed to be ‘switched on’ all day, every day. Your body works best when you respect its natural rhythm, there are times for energetic activity and time for rest and relaxation.
The periods of rest and relaxation allow the body to detoxify and repair, so respect these natural rhythms and reduce your dependency on caffeine. This also ensures you reduce the damaging impact it may be having on your health.
So be good to your body, improve y0ur health and cut the caffeine!