Hmmm good! You know how it is – that aroma of freshly ground coffee first thing in the morning is absolutely to die for! That’s why Starbucks and similar cafes are the most popular breakfast stops. Caffeine wakes us up, raises our mood and ability to concentrate. It constricts blood vessels so that the body can absorb medications more quickly. It does contain antioxidants and as some studies have shown; it stimulates muscles to burn fat and sugar more efficiently. And for those who suffer from asthma, drinking a moderate amount of caffeine can prevent or diminish the intensity of an asthma attack.
So – what’s not to love about it? It is highly addictive – given its popularity, caffeine is America’s #1 drug. In addition to its addictive character, ingesting caffeine in high doses can cause a number of health concerns including among others: cardiovascular problems, blood sugar swings, gastrointestinal problems, nutritional deficiencies, fibrocystic breast disease, premenstrual syndrome, osteoporosis and adrenal fatigue. Additionally high caffeine consumption can bring on unwanted side effects such as anxiety and stress, emotional and sleep disturbances.
If you question your own relationship with caffeine and want to cut it out of your daily routine you might find the following recommendations from Dr. Weil helpful:
- Start by choosing a time when you are most relaxed, such as a long weekend.
- Make a commitment to try three caffeine-free days, and see how you feel afterwards.
- Be prepared to experience tiredness, irritability and a very bad headache, especially after avoiding caffeine for 24 hours. Prepare for these side effects by keeping yourself busy: take walks, spend time in the garden, or do other light, soothing activities.
- Avoid anything that may aggravate a headache, such as prolonged TV watching or reading in low light. These side-effects will eventually diminish – and are worth it in the long run.
You can take it more slowly – substitute green tea or decaffeinated coffee for caffeinated coffee, and drink water or fruit juice mixed with sparkling water in lieu of cola. Breathing exercises, physical exercise and a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables may also help reduce the severity of side-effects.