Caffeine Addiction – Is It Really That Bad for You?
If you’re trying to get to sleep at night or often feel tense, anxious, and jittery, you may have been told to cut out caffeine. It is true that caffeine side effects can include a case of the jitters and some anxiety, and it is possible to develop a caffeine addiction, but like many such nutrients, caffeine may not be as bad for you as you think. Having caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and cola can help to get you going in the morning, or give you a little jolt of energy when you would otherwise experience an mid-afternoon slump, and the body can often metabolize this substance without any serious health issues.
However, as with anything else in your diet, you might want to learn a little bit about caffeine, how it works in your system, how much is typically safe, and when it can become a health concern. You might also be surprised to find some hidden sources of caffeine in your everyday diet in case you think you have a caffeine addiction and want to reduce your consumption, or are worried about caffeine effects overall. Let’s first take a look at how caffeine works to energize you and then you can decide if you should keep having your caffeinated drinks and foods.
What is caffeine and caffeine addiction?
Did you know that caffeine is actually a drug? It’s a stimulant, meaning it affects the nervous system, causing it to work harder and more effectively. This is why you’re more aware and alert when you have caffeinated foods and drinks; your nervous system, which picks up sensory input around you, is working hard to send signals to your brain. Your brain then becomes more effective at processing those signals, which is a positive side effect of caffeine. This is why you can often think faster, respond faster, and concentrate better when you have coffee, caffeine pills, or anything else that contains this drug.
However, unlike many other drugs, natural caffeine is not typically regulated in any part of the world. This is because, while you can technically experience a caffeine addiction, this addiction won’t interfere with your ability to socialize, it won’t cause you to drive your car erratically, and it doesn’t otherwise harm your mental and emotional faculties! Rarely would someone with a caffeine addiction ever need to miss work or neglect their children because of needing more coffee, which is why this drug is rarely regulated and freely added to many foodstuffs. This doesn’t mean caffeine is completely harmless though; let’s talk a bit about how much caffeine is too much, and what you might experience when you go through a caffeine withdrawal.
How much natural caffeine can you have?
It’s believed that 200 mg of caffeine, and as much as 400 milligrams per day, is a safe amount for most adults. It can be difficult to know exactly how much you’re getting from caffeinated drinks like coffee, as the stronger the brew, the more caffeine you’ll ingest. However, for a standard brew made from most types of coffee, this would be about three to maybe four cups; it’s also found in about ten cans of most colas and sodas with caffeine. Keep in mind that a darker coffee bean doesn’t necessarily mean more caffeine in coffee; that darker color is from the roasting of the bean, which doesn’t affect its overall caffeine content.
There are precautions for some people when it comes to the effects of caffeine on health; those with high blood pressure or circulatory problems, who have nervous disorders, or who are taking certain medications may be advised to reduce or eliminate their natural caffeine consumption altogether. Pregnant women would also do well to talk to their doctor about a safe amount of caffeine consumption, as this substance may be absorbed by the growing baby inside of them. Only your doctor can tell you how much is safe for you, given your overall health and progress of your pregnancy.
Know the caffeine withdrawal effects and symptoms
Caffeine withdrawal is not like withdrawing from other drugs, where your body may have very strong reactions and which may even require hospitalization. When you stop having soda, tea, chocolate with caffeine, coffee, and other such everyday foodstuffs, you may experience headaches, fatigue, irritability, slight depression, and trouble concentrating. Usually these symptoms last for no more than a few days, while your body and your nervous system adjust to functioning without this stimulant.
Surprising places you can find caffeine
Coffee, tea, and cola are obvious sources of natural caffeine, but don’t forget that it can also be found in chocolate! Since the stimulant works as something of a painkiller, you may also find that pain pills are actually caffeinated, as are over-the-counter cold pills meant to keep you awake. Diet pills are also very famous for having lots of caffeine, as any stimulant is going to suppress your appetite and make you eat less.
If you need to reduce your consumption, consider getting a caffeine app for your Smartphone. You can record your daily coffee intake as well as how much tea or cola you drink, and if you enjoy the occasional chocolate. A caffeine app can alert you to when your levels are becoming high for the day, so you can switch to decaf. You can also often drink more water and flush caffeine out of your system, which is something to remember when you’re trying to get past a caffeine addiction and reduce or eliminate those unpleasant side effects. Your body can also excrete excess caffeine through sweat, so this is just another reason to work out and exert yourself every day!
If you’ve tried to get past your caffeine addiction or find that the withdrawal symptoms are more than what is manageable for you, talk to your doctor. He or she may prescribe low dose caffeine pills while you cut back and then eliminate this nutrient from your diet, or may recommend other medication for managing your headaches, fatigue, and mood swings while you decide on a healthy level of caffeine for you.