Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world. This drug shows up in many places besides coffee and tea — such as soft drinks, energy drinks, pain killers, chocolate, and even bagels.
- In 2019 the Global coffee market was valued at $102.15 billion
- 90% of adults in the United States use caffeine regularly
- 68% of people 60 years and older use caffeine
- Seniors drink about 3 times as many cups as their younger cohorts
- Adults 25 to 39 and 40 to 59 - 43% of each group uses caffeine
- 83.2% of teens consume caffeinated beverages regularly — 96% occasionally
- Adolescents are the fastest growing population of caffeine users
Many people are used to starting their morning with some sort of caffeine-boost, usually coffee, to get them going for the day. Still others may continue caffeine-boosting throughout the day to keep themselves going. Caffeine has become such an ingrained part of society that very few people rarely stop to ask themselves, “is this really good for my health?” Well, the answer to this question may be a little confusing because there is so much information that actually purports that caffeine is good for use. However, on the other hand, there is also information that reveal harmful effects of caffeine.
HARMFUL EFFECTS OF CAFFEINE USE
Can Negatively Impact Heart Health
Caffeine can increase your heart rate and cause palpitations. And using large amounts of it for long periods can increase your risk of having a heart attack. Caffeine has been shown to make arteries stiff, which contributes to coronary artery disease or hardening of the arteries as we age.
Can Raise Blood Pressure
Studies reveal that blood pressure can go up significantly after caffeine use because it seems to block a hormone that our bodies produce to keep our arteries open wide. Caffeine can cause the blood vessels in our bodies to narrow. This leaves less room for blood flow which, in turn, raises blood pressure. Even young adults who also were diagnosed with mild hypertension had 4 times the risk of having a heart attack if they consumed the amount of caffeine equivalent to 4 cups of coffee. More moderate consumption showed 3 times the risk. By the way, coffee drinking is also linked to higher levels of cholesterol.
Impairs Glucose Metabolism for type 2 Diabetics
A study conducted by the American Diabetes Association showed that caffeine significantly impaired glucose metabolism in those with type 2 diabetes. This results in poorly managed blood sugar.
Breast Tissue Cysts in Women
Research has shown that women who regularly consume caffeine to be at an increased risk of developing fibrocystic breast disease.
Increases Intraocular Pressure When Coupled with Exercise
It has been found that those who consume caffeine had higher intraocular pressure than those who do not consume caffeine. This can be very problematic for people with eye disorders like glaucoma and other pressure-related eye disorders. Even if a person does not have these eye conditions, having pressure inside your eyes while exercising may develop into one of these problems later in life.
Can Lead to Sleep Deprivation
Caffeine can have a disruptive effect on your sleep. One effect is that it can make it hard to fall asleep because it is a stimulant. It has also been discovered that caffeine can delay the timing of your 24-hour body clock that regulates sleep, wakefulness, hormone release and many other bodily functions. These effects will reduce your total sleep time. In addition, there is evidence that consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime can reduce total sleep time by 1 hour. These effects also can be stronger in older adults, since it takes their bodies a longer time to process caffeine.
May Negatively Impact Mental Health
Caffeine can cause disruption of several important neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). A shortage of or disruption to dopamine can cause low motivation and a craving for stimulants. A shortage of GABA can increase irritability, restless, anxiety, and self-criticism.
Other Possible Negative Effects of Caffeine Use
- Stomach ulcers
- Adrenal fatigue
- Irregular heartbeat
- Accelerates bone loss
Alternatives to Caffeine
- Get more sleep - one of the main reasons people feel they need daily doses of caffeine is because of a lack of sleep. Why not avoid the late meal, log off all media, and get to bed much earlier so that you can begin wake up refreshed?
- Drink plenty of water. Water helps to cleanse your body of toxins, increase circulation and bring rejuvenation.
- Peppermint tea has been shown to be effective in helping to increase alertness, focus and energy.
- Contrast showers is an excellent way to get your day off to a great start. After showering for a few minutes with very warm (but not hot) water, switch the knobs to all cold water for 30 seconds to one minute. This will give you an energy-boosting experience like nothing else can. Please note that if you have heart problems, it would be best to consult with your health care professional before doing this activity.
- Regular exercise is a great way to increase energy.
A Word on Weaning Off Caffeine
Kicking the caffeine habit can be rough for some individuals. And if you’ve been a dedicated caffeine user for years, withdrawals such as headaches, irritability and others can set in. Slowly tapering down instead of an abrupt halt to caffeine may be more helpful. For example, if you currently consume 2 cups of coffee a day, go to 1 cup. After 2 to 3 days, reduce that one cup to half a cup per day. Continue to use that half a cup for another 2 to 3 days and then it will be time to completely cut out the coffee. It may be helpful to keep a cup of coffee in the refrigerator, in case you experience any withdrawal symptoms, such as a headache. If this happens, drink 2 tablespoons of that coffee for 2 to 3 days.
As was mentioned earlier, there is much information claiming the health benefits of caffeine. However there is also much evidence that shows the negative effects of using this drug. Why not break free from this addictive substance and begin to experience a healthier body and a clearer mind today!
Photo by: Coffee Geek