Why should I quit caffeine?
Most of the people may not think of caffeine as the most popular mood-altering drug in the world. Yet many of us depend on regular doses of 1,3,7 trimethylxanthine, the chemical name for a bitter white powder known as caffeine, to help wake us up, keep us alert and get us through the daily grind.
How caffeine works?
Throughout the day, your brain produces a neurotransmitter called adenosine. When it binds to adenosine receptors in your neurons, nerve activity in the brain slows down, and you start feeling drowsy. To a nerve cell, caffeine looks just like adenosine, which means caffeine can bind to a neuron’s adenosine receptor. When caffeine does this, actual adenosine can no longer bind to the neuron, which means the brain can’t get its “time to get drowsy” message. Because your brain isn’t getting adenosine, instead of slowing down, neural activity starts speeding up.
The pituitary gland observes the increased brain activity as a signal that some sort of an emergency is going on, so it releases hormones that tell the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol. Adrenaline is the “fight or flight” hormone, and it has a number of effects on your body, including dilating your pupils, increasing your heartbeat, and releasing sugar from the liver into the bloodstream for extra energy. These reactions are why you feel a buzz after you consume caffeine.
Besides adrenaline, your body also releases cortisol when you consume caffeine. Cortisol stays in the bloodstream much longer than adrenaline and works with adrenaline to prepare your body to fight or flee. It constricts blood vessels, increases the amount of glucose and insulin in your blood (for quick energy), and increases and partially shuts down the immune system.
Basically, caffeine allows you to activate your physiological fight-or-flight reaction on demand. This stress response was designed to help humans deal with immediate challenges and threats, which is why occasional, short-term bouts of it can indeed be beneficial — making you feel more alert and focused. But dialing up the stress response, and elevating your cortisol all the time, even when you’re sedentary and relatively relaxed, can create problems and deleterious effects in the long-term. Here is the list of professionals who take the most amount of caffeine:
Am I addicted to caffeine?
An average daily consumption of caffeine is 280 mg. But as little as 100 mg per day, the amount found in a small cup of coffee, is enough to lead to physical dependence and significant withdrawal symptoms.
What happens when I quit caffeine?
Some people experience mild symptoms, like feeling tired or having a headache. Here are the most common side effects experienced when you quit caffeine:
- brain fog and poor concentration
- fatigue and sleepiness
- headache (mild to severe)
- hot and cold spells
- impaired general cognition
- impaired motor skills
- muscle aches and stiffness
- nausea and/or vomiting
- reduced motivation
Why should you say no to caffeine?
Here are few benefits of quitting caffeine
- Lower blood pressure: Caffeine can raise your blood pressure a few points and even more in some people. Quitting coffee or caffeine can lower your blood pressure and keep your heart from working as hard.
- Sleep better: Caffeine can reduce the amount and quality of sleep. Drinking coffee or energy drinks too late in the day can interfere with getting to sleep since the half-life of caffeine is 4-6 hours. Even people who have no caffeine after 12 noon report a better quality of sleep after quitting caffeine. Read more about the benefits of a good night sleep.
- Better mood: Caffeine alters the mood. Many report being grumpy until they’ve had their morning coffee and others feel lethargic when the caffeine begins to wear off in the afternoon.
- Decreased anxiety: Caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands. Quitting coffee or caffeine can make you feel less anxious, especially if you are prone to anxiety issues.
- Fewer headaches: Caffeine is a major trigger for headaches. Any alteration in your normal daily caffeine consumption can result in a caffeine withdrawal headache.
- Migraine trigger: Caffeine can also be a migraine trigger.
- Less bathroom trips: Caffeinated beverages cause us to urinate more often and in some people even can cause incontinence.
- Healthy teeth: Coffee and tea stain teeth and acidic & sweet energy drinks or sodas erode tooth enamel and can cause tooth decay.
- Weight Loss: Unless you drink your coffee black, caffeinated beverages generally add empty calories to our diets that we don’t really need. Quitting just a one Monster Energy Drink/day habit saves 200 calories per day, 1,400 calories a week, or 73,000 calories a year! Read more about food items which can help in weight loss.
- Healthier Diet: Bottled coffees, teas, energy drinks, and sodas often contain an assortment of preservatives designed to give them a longer shelf-life. These preservatives can have adverse health effects and some are even banned by other countries. Sugar-free energy drinks and sodas contain artificial sweeteners that also can negatively affect your health. Read about countries that charge tax to curb obesity.
- Better for medication: Caffeine can interact with other medications causing them to not work as they should.
- No More Jitters: One of the leading side-effects from caffeine or coffee consumption is jitters or shaky hands. This can range from annoying to even debilitating for some people.
- Better heart health: Caffeine stimulates the heart muscle causing it to beat with more forceful contractions.
- Reduced Type 2 Diabetes Risk: While black coffee actually has been shown to reduce diabetes risk, drinking sugary coffee and caffeinated beverages actually increases your risk of diabetes.
How can I stop caffeine intake?
- Cut back gradually: Instead of stopping at once, give your body some time to adjust to the change. If you were having 4 cups of coffee earlier, try to reduce it to 3 and then to 2 and then 1.
- Drink plenty of water: Water plays an important role in flushing out harmful substances from the body.
- Switch coffee with green tea: Green tea comes with a lot of health benefits. Increasing the consumption of green tea can help you in managing various aspects of your health.
- Cut extra carbs during lunch: Do you struggle with afternoon fatigue? That awful period after lunch where you cannot concentrate or struggle to stay awake and alert? Instead of taking a high carbohydrate content during lunch, increase your protein component.
- Get plenty of exercise: Indulging yourself into some other activities such has exercising help in faster exit from the addiction.
- Take a power nap: If you are feeling lazy after lunch, take a power nap of 20 minutes. A power nap is more powerful than a cup of coffee.
- Sleep properly: Your body does all of its reboots and repair when you sleep. Make time to get more rest than you normally would.