Coffee is the favorite wake-up drink for millions and a go to necessity for even more. Caffeine is the primary ingredient in coffee and many other beverages like tea, chocolate, cola soft drinks, energy drinks and even some medications. Most people are unaware of the harm their morning cup of coffee is doing to them.
But do you know what coffee does to your body and (if you're a coffee addict) how you can quit it with minimal withdrawal symptoms?
But first, let’s clear all the confusion there is about caffeine on the internet. Like any other topic on nutrition and health, there is an overload of contradicting information on coffee. Before you make up your mind on what is true, consider this fact:
Coffee is the second most traded commodity on earth after oil!
You can imagine the commercial interest vested in this commodity. It’s no surprise that many articles and organizations say coffee is safe (Some even claim it prevents cancer!). The FDA recommends upto 400 mg of coffee despite it having no nutritional value whatsoever. Of course, the FDA also considers it is safe to consume up to 50 gm or 12.5 teaspoons of daily sugar which is more addictive than cocaine.
Caffeine has no nutrients that we cannot survive without. In fact, it just gives you a temporary high that masks your nutritional and psychological problems, only to cause a slump in your mood later. In fact it messes up many delicate balances in your body.
Why should You Quit Caffeine
Visible and felt effects of caffeine include alertness, better concentration, frequent urination, increased heartbeat and of course the ‘feel-good’ high.
This is what is going on under the surface every time you have caffeine:
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. This is what causes alertness and even inability to sleep if consumed after evening. Caffeine competes with adenosine (a sleep inducing molecule) and binds to adenosine receptors in your brain to cause alertness and loss of sleep.
Caffeine stimulates dopamine production in your brain. It also increases the serotonin receptors triggering reward systems in your brain. This is what gives you the happy feeling when you consume caffeine.
Drinking coffee re-creates the stress conditions in your body. Here is how this happens.
Caffeine stimulates the adrenal gland to produce adrenaline in your blood. This is the natural fight or flight response of your body. The body releases stores of glucose, increases heart rate and shoots up cortisol levels to prepare for the fight. This response aided us in fighting off threats in ancient times. However, triggering this response without any real stressor leads to a cascade of problems and takes a toll on your body.
Because of the release of glucose stores during this process, caffeine leads to high blood sugar which calls for higher insulin in turn causing a slump in your sugar levels soon after. The low sugar level causes further mood dip and lethargy forcing you to reach for another cup to begin the next cycle of adrenalin rush. This vicious cycle messes up your delicate sugar levels in your blood.
Studies have also shown that caffeine affects estrogen levels in women, increasing the risk of hormonal imbalance and altered ovulation. Pregnant women need to be even more careful as caffeine crosses into the placenta and can affect the functions of the fetus as well.
In line with the stress response triggered by caffeine, it diverts energy and attention away from your digestive system. Caffeine also stimulates the stomach to release more Hydrochloric Acid. Morning cup of coffee on an empty stomach is hence disastrous. It reduces the amount of acid available for digestion throughout the day and breaks the natural rhythm of your GI tract.
Apart from the systemic ill-effects, polyphenols contained in coffee (caffeic acid and chloro-genic acid) can damage your DNA make-up, present even in a single cup. Further, high concentrations of these polyphenols may have cancer-causing effects too.
Coffee addiction also has negative psychological effects including raising heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose, anxiety and also as worse as depression.
Coffee beans, often stored during processing, can become moldy and contaminated mycotoxins. Last but definitely not the least, coffee crops are sprayed with pesticides like glyphosate, which is linked to cancer and have been shown to disrupt human health.
How to Quit Caffeine
As you may have concluded by now, the fake high of caffeine is really not worth all the trouble it causes to your body. The regular stress response takes a toll on your body and eventually leads to weight gain, insulin resistance, dependency and many more problems.
But how do you quit it? Caffeine is after all a mild drug that causes dependency. The typical withdrawal symptoms like headache, energy slump, lethargy, muscle pain, irritability can all be minimized by managing your blood sugar levels and taking the right supplements. Here is how it works.
Lack of caffeine as a stimulant in your body will cause an energy slump in your body. It is essential that you take the right food that gives your body a steady supply or energy. Converting glucose to energy also requires the right nutrients, vitamins and amino acids. Therefore you should also supplement your low GL diet with all the required supplements.
Slowly your system which was fuelled by adrenalin response will start running on natural processes for energy conversion.
A steady flow of energy also means there will be no more energy slumps in your day. Soon, you will not feel the need to go for that 5 pm coffee cup.
With the right diet, supplements and a deeper understanding of your own body, caffeine can be easily eliminated from your day to day life. Getting rid of this psychoactive drug will clear your way for the other 7 steps in iThrive’s Weight Loss Protocol.