In modern society, we’re often stressed and sleep-deprived. Many people become dependent on caffeine in their teens or early adulthood. But what you might not know is how your caffeine fix might be sabotaging your health.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant found in foods and drinks. What this means is that it stimulates the body, including your stress hormones, brain and nervous system. This might give you a temporary boost of energy and alertness.
Where is caffeine found?
Many of us know that coffee is a source of caffeine. However, there are other forms including:
- Black tea
- Green tea
- White tea
- Energy drinks
- Soft drinks such as Coke
- Coffee-flavoured foods such as icecream
- Some pain-relieving medications
- Some ‘weight-loss’ supplements
It’s important to note that caffeine, like anything, can be about quality over quantity. For example, the caffeine in green tea works with another compound called l-theanine to boost your concentration. But the caffeine in energy drinks is supported by nothing except for pure sugar or sweeteners, preservatives and manufactured vitamins.
What does caffeine do to the body?
The problem is that caffeine doesn’t just give you a quick boost. When we consume caffeine, the body stimulates the adrenal glands. The adrenals then produce stress hormones that keep us alert and energised.
The problem is, consuming too much caffeine means that your adrenals don’t get to reset. If you’re not sleeping properly, it’s even worse. You end up feeling burned out, and rely more on caffeine to get through the day.
Excess stress hormones can also cause your body to store more energy as fat. Stress packs on visceral fat – the fat around the organs that increases your risk of chronic diseases.
How much is too much?
It depends on the individual. Some people can detoxify caffeine quickly, and others get symptomatic after a single cup of coffee. Signs of your consumption being too high include:
- Racing thoughts
- Shakiness, particularly in the hands
- Rapid heartbeat
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Withdrawal symptoms when you stop consuming it
What to do about your caffeine intake
Want to reduce your need for caffeine? Here are some tips to get you started:
- Drink more water – water is the conduit of the body. Without it, you can’t function properly! If you’re not consuming enough, you’ll feel fatigued. So reach for a glass of water before you reach for the coffee pot.
- Have one day each week where you detoxify from caffeine and focus on easily absorbed meals, such as a smoothie. This will help to detoxify the preservatives and other nasties that can build up in your system and affect your energy levels.
- Look to improving your sleep. Caffeine dependence and poor sleep often go hand in hand. So get at least 7 hours each night. If you’re struggling to sleep, keep the caffeine consumption to the morning only.
- After you feel a bit better, start slowly reducing your intake. Try switching one cup each day for a herbal tea or mineral water.
Want the support to moderate your caffeine intake and feel good again? Make sure you sign up for The Lifestyle Collective. To learn more, click here.