“Finally! My days of coffee dependence are over.”At least, that was my initial expression when I decided to give up coffee.
But truth be told, the headaches, nausea, fatigue, and restlessness which I encountered on my first few days can never be compared to the freedom I now enjoy from giving it all up.
Do you want to know the tips that helped me get over it all? Well, stay with me while I take you through it all.
This article will take you through all there’s to be known about coffee addiction in the simplest of terms, how to get over it, and the benefits of giving up coffee.
What is Coffee Addiction?
Caffeine tolerance develops in many people. Here, the body adjusts and becomes accustomed to consuming caffeine daily. You may discover that you need to gradually increase your caffeine intake to attain the necessary alertness and required concentration.
Caffeine can cause physical dependence, although it is not strictly an addiction. It increases dopamine levels, but only slightly.
Illegal stimulants such as methamphetamine (meth) and MDMA (ecstasy or molly) produce a massive surge that disrupts the brain’s reward circuitry. You now become heavily dependent on caffeine and also addicted to the ecstasy of it.
The science behind coffee addiction
Caffeine gains access into our bloodstream via the stomach and small intestine. Caffeine activates the central nervous system— nerves, brain, and spinal cord – as it enters the bloodstream, making you feel more awake and aware. Caffeine is structurally similar to a chemical called adenosine which is naturally present in our brain. Caffeine can fit nicely into adenosine receptors in our brain cells, effectively inhibiting them. The adenosine created over time normally binds to these receptors, resulting in a feeling of tiredness.
Caffeine increases dopamine signaling in the brain when you drink or eat it. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that aids in the regulation of motivation, emotions, and movement. When the signaling level rises, you feel more aware and awake.
The chemical and physical properties of the brain change with time in persons who use coffee/tea, soda, or energy drinks daily. The most noticeable effect is an increase in adenosine receptors in brain cells, which is the brain’s attempt to maintain balance in the face of a constant barrage of caffeine. Because you have more adenosine receptors, it takes more caffeine to block a significant proportion of them and achieve the desired effect.
The above explains why regular coffee drinkers develop a tolerance over time.
Effects of caffeine consumption
There are so many effects of caffeine consumption, some of which are:
Despite all of caffeine’s health benefits, it’s impossible to ignore that it has the potential to become addictive.
Caffeine use frequency appears to play a role in dependence. Even though the molecule doesn’t seem to create actual addiction, if you consume lots of coffee or other caffeinated beverages regularly, you’re highly likely to become addicted to its effects.
Caffeine use three to six hours before bedtime can significantly disturb sleep. Caffeine can lower total sleep time by more than an hour when consumed up to 6 hours before bedtime.
Rhabdomyolysis is a potentially fatal disorder in which injured muscle fibers enter the bloodstream, causing renal failure and other complications.
Trauma, infection, substance misuse, muscle tension, and bites from deadly snakes or insects are common causes of rhabdomyolysis.
There have also been a few instances of rhabdomyolysis linked to high caffeine consumption, albeit this is a rare occurrence.
Caffeine is a stimulant that passes through breast milk in small amounts and can accumulate in the breastfeeding infant.
Infants whose mothers use significant quantities of caffeine may be nervous and have difficulty sleeping.
Blood sugar levels
Caffeine consumption causes blood glucose levels to rise in people with type 2 diabetes.
Caffeine appears to inhibit insulin activity, resulting in a tiny but noticeable spike in blood sugar levels, especially after meals.
Why do you need to stop drinking coffee?
However irresistible coffee is, there are a host of reasons why you need to stop drinking it. Other beverages contain lesser caffeine and have lots of health benefits.
Several healthy coffee substitutes contain caffeine; for instance, green tea, which has far less caffeine and is also beneficial to your health.
Here are some of the most compelling reasons to give up coffee and caffeine for good:
To get sound sleep.
Caffeine is a natural brain stimulant, although it will influence your sleeping habits and the quality of your sleep.
Even if you don’t consume coffee before going to bed, it can affect how much sleep you get.
To overcome addiction.
It is dangerous to rely on any chemical. The worse the substance, the more serious the issue is. Illegal substances are unquestionably among the most dangerous forms of addiction. Having an addiction to any chemical, however, is not healthy.
It’s not good for you if you’re hooked on coffee and rely on it every day. You will have more freedom and control over yourself if you can overcome any addiction.
To avoid tooth deterioration and discoloration.
It only takes a single cup of coffee each day to discolor your teeth, although some types of teas could also discolor your teeth.
Coffee can cause tooth decay depending on where you purchase your coffee and how much sugar you add to it. If you drink flavored coffees and lattes, this is usually the case.
To prevent high blood pressure.
Caffeine might cause your blood pressure to rise. It may only create a temporary increase, but the increase will be significant.
Drinking a lot of coffee could have catastrophic repercussions for anyone who already has high blood pressure.
Giving up coffee whereas assists in lowering blood pressure and also avoids problems associated with it.
To avoid tremors and jitters.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant that is induced to give people more energy but too much caffeine can cause tremors.
If you consume a lot of coffee and frequently experience uncontrollable shaking or trembling of your hands, you’re probably suffering from one of the many caffeine-related adverse effects.
Benefits of giving up coffee
Coffee possesses few health benefits compared to its side effects.
Why stick to something which has little nutrients it provides for your body, rather than additional hazards which may deteriorate your health?
Below are the benefits you could derive from giving up coffee:
Calming minerals levels like calcium and magnesium are reduced by coffee. It accomplishes this by preventing the body from absorbing magnesium from foods or supplements. As a result of the natural laxative effect of caffeine, it causes not only diarrhea but also incontinence in excessive doses.
Studies have shown that Gastroesophageal reflux is a stomach disorder that is a result of excessive coffee intake.
Hormone balance (in women)
Hormonal imbalance is an important element in the health consequences of coffee, as caffeine has the following physiological impacts on women:
Caffeine has the potential to affect pregnancy and miscarriage rates.
Caffeine has a 24-hour effect on hormonal function.
Coffee may be metabolized differently by males and females.
Decrease in anxiety
Caffeine activates your fight-or-flight response, which is linked to an increase in anxiety. It can also make you feel irritable and anxious. According to Becki Holmes, MS, RDN, LDN, founder of Foodwit, some people may take caffeine at any time of day with few harmful side effects or disruptions to sleep hygiene. Others, such as those who do not consume caffeine daily or those who have pre-existing anxiety disorders, are more likely to have elevated anxiety symptoms due to their morning coffee.
Improved sleep quality
Caffeine can impair your ability to fall asleep as well as your sleep quality if consumed too soon to bedtime, so giving it up could do a lot more for your sleep than you think. Even after the effects of the caffeine have worn off, coffee can disrupt your sleep pattern, create restlessness, and lengthen the time it takes to fall asleep.
Reduction of abdominal fat
Coffee and kale are just two of the most surprising reasons why you feel so bloated. Caffeine is a well-known diuretic, so you may expect it to help you move water and salt out of your body, reducing bloating. But in the real sense, caffeine might dehydrate you, making your digestive system sluggish and perhaps causing obstructions.
I am sorry to break it to coffee drinkers that when it comes to bloating, the lesser the caffeine, the better. Giving up coffee helps in the regulation of excess production of cortisol, which is a major factor in the formation of belly fat.
Increase in savings
You’d be surprised how much money you can save by giving up coffee, whether you buy it at a local coffee shop or you brew it at home. Buying these every day will take a toll on your wallet. I’d advise you to sit down and calculate how much you spend on coffee on a daily, monthly, and annual basis. You’d be surprised at how much you’ve spent on coffee thus far.
Whiter and healthier teeth
If you’re a coffee-lover, you would have noticed a decrease in the brightness of your teeth over time. Coffee has a browning impact on teeth, which may be observed in ceramic mugs used for everyday coffee intake. Giving up coffee may assist you in regaining your teeth’ whiteness.
Caffeine appears to be associated with depression and depressive symptoms such as sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness, exhaustion, and lack of energy, requiring extra effort to do even simple tasks. Drinking too much caffeine might have effects that go beyond your moods. These effects may include insomnia, stomach upset, and muscular tremors; whereas, giving up coffee may enhance your mood, making you happier and more at ease.
Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it causes an increase in urination frequency. If ingested in large quantities, it might also increase the desire to urinate. Caffeine has a direct effect on the smooth muscle of the bladder directly. This explains why coffee always makes you pee. Giving up coffee can reduce urine frequency, resulting in fewer trips to the bathroom.
Prevents drug interactions
Combining coffee with stimulant medicines might lead to major issues such as an elevated heart rate and high blood pressure. Coffee should not be ingested with stimulants. Diethylpropion (Tenuate), epinephrine, phentermine (Ionamin), pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), and other stimulants are examples.
Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal
As explained so far, there are a lot of benefits to giving up coffee. But it’s not always easy, especially if there has been an addiction over the years.
Caffeine withdrawal is the process by which someone who uses caffeine regularly abruptly stops doing so.
The following are symptoms you might encounter while withdrawing from the usage of caffeine:
Caffeine is commonly consumed in the morning to increase alertness. Caffeine prevents weariness and makes the brain alert by inhibiting adenosine receptors.
Due to caffeine dependence, there’s usually a feeling of fatigue or tiredness during the first few days of withdrawal.
Low dosages of caffeine boost mood and reduce anxiety. Caffeine consumption in moderate to high quantities, on the other hand, can cause anxiousness, jitteriness, and uneasiness.
Caffeine withdrawal can result in a significant change in brain chemistry, and it could cause feelings of anxiety, melancholy, or irritation.
Caffeine promotes contractions in the colon and intestines, so people who consume it regularly may develop minor constipation after stopping their caffeine intake. You can avoid constipation during withdrawal by consuming fiber-rich meals and staying hydrated.
Due to the quick decline in your dopamine levels, you will be unmotivated to do anything throughout the coffee withdrawal phase. Your body has become accustomed to having a cup of coffee now and then to motivate you for the duties ahead; now that you’re not giving it that energy boost, you’ll be unproductive for the first few days.
Vomiting and Nausea
Some people can’t think about eating during the first few days of withdrawal, which adds to their tiredness and causes them to be weak.
Steps to Quitting Caffeine
Having looked at the benefits of giving up coffee and the symptoms that come with giving it up, let us look at steps to make the quitting process less strenuous.
An abrupt stop in coffee consumption may not work, you should try withdrawing gradually:
- Don’t use flavor syrups, sugar, or cream in your coffee.
- Change your mug of coffee for a smaller one! A cup of espresso is preferable to a big cup of syrupy coffee.
- Decaffeinated coffee is a good replacement for regular coffee.
- Eat! Focusing on appropriate nutrition might help you maintain your energy levels. A balanced diet and blood sugar balance provide long-lasting energy that benefits your health.
- It all boils down to your thinking. Small actions will help you attain a larger objective once you’ve decided to give up coffee. Because knowledge is power, stick with what you know and make minor adjustments. Your hormones will begin to normalize, chronic inflammation will subside, and you will no longer require coffee.
Healthy alternatives to coffee
Giving up coffee might be very difficult, especially for those who take them all day long. But there are other alternatives to coffee that could give you the same energy boost you need for the daily activities ahead. Some of which are:
This is a type of tea produced by grinding young tea leaves into green powder. Just like other green teas, matcha tea contains catechins which help to fight against cancer.
Matcha tea is high in flavonoids and L-thiamine which boosts the alpha frequency band of the brain. Taking matcha tea can have a positive effect on your energy levels and total health.
Warm lemon water is an amazing replacement for coffee. Lemons naturally possess calcium, potassium, and magnesium, alongside electrolytes which can hydrate body tissues thereby removing toxins from the body. Lemon water fills you with energy and also enhances your mood.
This is a traditional Indian drink made with turmeric. It can also be referred to as turmeric milk as it possesses a yellow or golden hue. Aside from boosting energy, golden milk has a lot of health benefits ranging from preventing cell damage, aiding digestion to improve bone health.
Yerba mate is a great drink backed by science. It is said to have the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the joy of chocolate. It contains less caffeine than coffee but more than tea.
Yerba mate is a type of tea made from the twigs and leaves of the Yerba mate plant. Traditionally, it is drunk from a gourd with a metal straw at the bottom to strain out leaf sediments. This tea can boost energy and mental focus and is a perfect replacement for coffee.