Why caffeine is not supporting your wellbeing
Why Caffeine is not supporting your wellbeing
You know that friend who can’t drink coffee without feeling shaky or anxious? Do you find that when you drink caffeine past noon you can’t sleep that night? Perhaps after you have a cup or two you find yourself extremely awake and energized but feeling restless and distracted?
Despite the commonly known limitations and negative effects of caffeine, it is still an extremely touted substance. Many people look over the downfalls of caffeine simply because they enjoy the initial feeling of it, or because it’s become a part of their daily ritual! Perhaps you can relate to this? I know I can, I am a recovered self-proclaimed coffee addict and coinsurer who had to overcome my addiction and dependency to caffeine.
Now, if you know that caffeine is not supporting your wellbeing, but you struggle to let it go, this is nothing to feel shame about. Awareness is the first step, and if you decide you want to change your relationship to caffeine, this article is to help educate you and shed insight to the physiological processes of caffeine.
Caffeine is possibly the most widely accepted drug in the world. It is found in beverages such as coffee, teas, and even plants such as cacao and guarana. While caffeine may seem relatively harmless, it can have a negative impact on their overall wellbeing.
Research on this topic can be conflicting. There are clinical studies that have shown ways in which caffeine can a positive impact on certain individuals. For example, one study highlights the suggestion that coffee may help prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Other suggested benefits include a lower risk of depression, improved heart health, and boosted energy. While all of this sounds great, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a lot of financial incentive to keep people consuming caffeine!
After discovering my own health difficulties associated with my consumption of caffeine, I began studying the science behind this drug and found that there is much contradicting evidence to the research supporting caffeine consumption. I also found that it is significantly more challenging to come across these studies and rarely are they posted in the public media.
Let’s explore some of the contradicting research studies of caffeine while we take a little dive into the science of the drug itself!
How caffeine works in the body:
Caffeine is a drug of the methylxanthine class of drugs and is considered a stimulant. It works by stimulating the central nervous system, heart, muscles and other organs. It affects the centers that control blood pressure and it is also known as a diuretic, which means that it increases the flow of urine.
Caffeine is generally absorbed in the body through the digestive system. The short-term effects are usually experienced within 5-30 minutes and can last up to 12 hours depending on the individual. The most commonly known short term side effects of caffeine include increased breathing rate, increased heart rate, increased physical energy, increased mental alertness, increased frequency in urination, and rise in body temperature.
Caffeine affects not only the brain and central nervous system but also the following organ systems:
Circulatory and Respiratory Organs
-increases blood pressure
-can lead to irregular heart rhythms
-causes the heart to work harder
-can be dangerous for those with hypertension or heart issues
-caffeine consumption in pregnancy causes an increased heartrate and metabolism in the unborn baby
-caffeine crosses through the placenta and can interfere with the unborn baby’s growth and development and can even lead to miscarriage
-caffeine can affect fertility and can interrupt one’s ability to conceive
-caffeine interferes with hormones including estrogen production necessary for pregnancy to occur
Skeletal and Muscular Organs:
-caffeine consumption interferes with absorption of calcium, short term this can lead to muscle aches, pains, cramping and twitching
-the interference of calcium absorption over time can contribute to bone thinning
-caffeine increases the amount of acid in the stomach
-liver is responsible for processing and filtering extra caffeine in the body, which overtime can be stressful for the liver
-people with ulcers or acid reflux should be extra cautious for caffeine consumption as caffeine will only exacerbate symptoms of stomach issues
Symptoms of Caffeine overdose:
Signs that you have consumed to much coffee may include:
-shaking or trembling hands
-feeling of exhausting once the caffeine has worn off
Neuroscience of Caffeine:
Let’s get to the brainy stuff.
How does caffeine work in the brain? As we discussed in the previous article, caffeine is a drug. This means that caffeine crosses the blood brain barrier, or the BBB and is notorious for its effect on Adenosine. Adenosine found commonly throughout the CNS and is considered both an excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter. It is well known for its inhibitory effects in which it promotes sleep, causes drowsiness, and suppresses arousal.
What this means is that caffeine works by blocking feelings of tiredness and thus causes you to feel artificially awake.
Physiologically adenosine is known to dilate blood vessels in the brain, and this would likely cause the effect of tiredness or fatigue. What we know about caffeine is that it constricts blood vessels, meaning it causes them to become more narrow and restrict blood flow. This phenomenon explains caffeine withdrawal headaches, as the caffeine wears off and the individual does not take a dose, this can cause the blood vessels to dilate allowing more blood flow to the brain and causing a headache to occur.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), caffeine also works by enhancing dopamine signaling in the brain via the reward pathway system. This draws attention toward the addictive qualities of caffeine. Although caffeine produces withdrawals, the symptoms tend to be less severe than with other drugs. Caffeine produces symptoms of withdrawal; however, it is listed as a drug of dependence rather than a drug of addiction. This classification is made by the NIDA and the reason for this is because it produces a small rise in dopamine in the brain when compared to other more addictive drugs; including nicotine, amphetamines, and cocaine that produce a larger more excessive rush of dopamine.
How to tell if my body is addicted to caffeine:
The most common tell-tale sign that your body is addicted to caffeine is that you get a headache when you skip your daily dose. The best way to know if your body is addicted to the caffeine is to try a few days completely without it. If you experience bodily effects that typically are not present for you, this is known as a withdrawal. When you stop your caffeine dose, look out for these well-known signs of caffeine withdrawal:
- depressed mood
- decreased alertness
- decreased motivation
- feeling foggy
There are physical effects of caffeine overdose which can include symptoms of nausea, muscle pain, muscle stiffness/soreness, and even vomiting.
Caffeine withdrawal symptoms can start anywhere from 11-24 hours after not consuming caffeine and can last anywhere from 2-9 days, so if you want to see if your body is addicted to caffeine, it would be important to give your body at least 7-9 days to see the full effects of your caffeine dependence.
Contraindications of caffeine consumption
Medically speaking, there are several situations in which certain individuals should refrain from caffeine. It is important to consider, if there are so many situations that caffeine can be harmful, then is this a good indication that as a society we may want to become more conscious of how we consume this substance.
Some of these people and conditions are included in this list below:
-mental health disorders including Anxiety disorders, Bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia
-pregnancy and breastfeeding
-Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
-stimulant drugs included Ephedrine
-Hormones including Estrogen
-Medications for Depression
-Stimulant drugs including Cocaine
*Note! This is not medical advice and should not be replaced by the advice of a medical doctor. This list is not comprehensive and is only being shown to list examples of reasons for which people should avoid caffeine for medical reasons.
Other concerns of Caffeine:
Where does your caffeine come from?
It is important to keep in mind the source of your caffeine. Even if you can tolerate the caffeine itself, it is wise to ensure that your caffeine is sourced from a product that is grown and produced responsibly for both you and the environment. Certain coffees have been tested positive for Mycotoxins which is a type of mold that can be dangerous for your health. It is also important to keep in mind the ethics of the company whether they are growing coffee beans or harvesting tea leaves, producing caffeinated beverages or energy bars, to know that the source is operating ethically and responsibly.
Much of the research that exists today concerning caffeine is not taking into consideration gender differences. A research study performed by the department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences and the University of New York, Buffalo examined the gender differences in physiological response to caffeine. They found that male subjects had a more positive overall response to caffeine consumption than their female counterparts. Differences were shown primarily in cardiovascular responses and the researchers suggest that steroid hormones play a role in dictating these differences.
Caffeine may not be the innocent substance many of us imagine it to be. While there is no use in demonizing it as a substance, it is important to disclose the possible harmful side effects it may have on us and our health. Even for those who do not seem to suffer harmful side effects from coffee, it is not something to be consumed limitlessly. We wish you have this conversation with you to help bring awareness to what we consume, and to better explain why it is important to eliminate caffeine from your diet during your micro dosing protocol. Even if you struggle from caffeine dependence and you wish to change it, be sure to be easy on yourself. Reach out to our team for support, talk to a friend, and most importantly give yourself time.
Micro dosing can help to solidify changes you are making to your caffeine consumption so even if you are able to stop for your micro dosing journey you might be surprised that the changes further solidify by the end of your month.
In the next article we will discuss the importance of eliminating caffeine for your micro dosing protocol and other ways to successfully reframe your mind around caffeine consumption.
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