Many individuals rely on coffee to assist them in waking up and kick-starting their day. In fact, coffee is the most consumed source of caffeine. However, most coffee lovers don’t think that coffee can be a drug when abused.
Coffee contains a significant amount of caffeine. Caffeine is a potent stimulant. Thus, coffee works like a drug. That’s why many individuals rely on coffee to get an energy boost to get them through a busy day.
If you find yourself relying on coffee all the time, especially in the morning or when you want to do intense physical activity, and you feel that you can’t do without coffee, then it means you’re addicted to the drink.
In that case, it’ll help to quit coffee to end the addiction. Before we get to that, let’s discuss the effect of caffeine on the body system and the reasons for giving up coffee.
The Effect of Caffeine on Your Body System
Upon drinking coffee, its main active compound, which is caffeine, gets absorbed into the bloodstream from the stomach. Upon getting into the bloodstream, it flows into the nervous system, skeletal system, and muscular system. Once it gets into these body systems, it stimulates the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, thereby giving you the feeling of alertness and being awake.
Caffeine also improves concentration and focus. It also reduces fatigue. Besides, it stimulates the excretion of gastric acid. As a result, individuals who are sensitive to high acidity may experience indigestion, heartburn, or acid reflux after drinking coffee.
Also, caffeine intake enhances dopamine signaling within the brain. Dopamine is an important chemical that assists in controlling movement, emotions, and motivation. The moment you get the feeling of being awake and more alert after taking coffee, it’s due to an increase in dopamine signaling.
How Much Is Too Much Caffeine?
On average, coffee lovers consume 200 milligrams of caffeine per day (equivalent to 2 cups of regular coffee). Most people don’t experience any side effects when consuming a maximum of 400 milligrams of caffeine (equivalent to 4 cups of regular coffee). However, caffeine affects different people differently, especially based on their sensitivity, gender, and size.
Individuals who are sensitive to caffeine may experience side effects such as insomnia, restlessness, anxiety, acid reflux, heartburn, and increased heart rate among other issues. Research shows that consuming at least 600 milligrams of caffeine daily (about 4 to 5 cups of regular coffee) is excessive.
Why Should You Quit Coffee?
It’s considered safe to drink under 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is about 4 cups of regular coffee. Regardless, the caffeine content in coffee and other caffeine-containing beverages affects consumers differently. While one person may not be affected by consuming 200 milligrams of caffeine per day, another person will find it quite terrible to consume a similar amount of caffeine.
Although drinking coffee may give you a quick energy boost, sometimes, it’s not worth it due to the associated side effects. If coffee affects you negatively, it’ll help to quit it altogether. However, not everyone would find it easy to stop drinking coffee. Before we discuss how to quit coffee, it’ll help to discuss who should consider quitting this addictive drink. Here’re some of the reasons why you should consider quitting coffee.
- It causes insomnia
Insomnia is one of the reasons why you should quit coffee. Insomnia simply means trouble falling asleep. Essentially, caffeine remains active in the body for several hours. Thus, if you drink it in the evening or when you’re about to sleep, the caffeine content in your coffee brew will remain active in the body system at night, thereby causing you to stay alert and awake when you should be sleeping. Thus, your quality of sleep will be badly affected. If this happens to you, it’s high time you quit coffee.
- It worsens your anxiety
Research shows that drinking coffee may worsen anxiety symptoms. Several scientific studies have linked caffeine consumption to anxiety. If you’re already experiencing anxiety, it means that your central nervous system remains in a state of overdrive most of the time. Thus, consuming caffeine, which stimulates the nervous system, will only worsen your anxiety. As a result, you’ll feel stressed out.
- Makes you jittery
Several studies show that caffeine makes some people feel bad or jittery. Thus, if you feel jittery after drinking coffee, it simply means coffee is not the best drink for you. In this case, reduce your coffee intake or quit it altogether.
- You have digestive issues
If you’re suffering from digestive distress or acid reflux, drinking coffee will only worsen these conditions. Research shows that there’s a link between coffee intake and increased stomach acidity, which may cause acid reflux or worsen digestive distress.
- You’re pregnant
There’s an unending debate on whether it’s safe to consume coffee and other caffeine-containing foods and beverages when pregnant. Although there are conflicting data on this debate, the recommended amount of caffeine for pregnant women is a maximum of 200 milligrams per day. The reason behind this is that high caffeine consumption is linked to preterm births, low birth weight, and stillbirth.
How to Quit Drinking Coffee
Withdrawal from coffee can be very tough, especially if you’re addicted to caffeine. Individuals who only drink coffee occasionally may find it easier to quit it. However, anyone who drinks coffee daily or takes several cups of coffee per day would only find it possible to quit it by using a realistic withdrawal strategy. It’s especially easy to avoid coffee when you’re less active or when you’re not in the need of feeling more alert. With that said, here’re some of the best strategies to quit coffee.
- Gradual withdrawal
One of the easiest methods of quitting coffee is cutting down your daily caffeine intake slowly. Avoid stopping it in one go. You may experience serious caffeine withdrawal symptoms when you quit it suddenly. In this case, you’ll find yourself going back to taking coffee to eliminate the withdrawal symptoms. Thus, quitting your favorite cup of coffee isn’t something you can easily do all of a sudden. Most people continue with their caffeine intake habit as a result of avoiding the associated withdrawal symptoms.
You can successfully quit your coffee intake by gradually reducing the amount you take each day. For instance, if you prefer brewing coffee from the comfort of your home, consider brewing with half the amount of ground coffee you typically use.
Also, consider decreasing your coffee consumption gradually. For instance, take half a cup of coffee instead of a full cup. In case you take several cups of java daily, reduce your consumption to fewer cups per day until you’re able to drink only one cup per day and eventually quit it completely. By gradually reducing coffee consumption in about 2 to 3 weeks, you’ll successfully quit your coffee drinking habit without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
- Replace coffee with alternative beverages
Consider switching to decaf coffee gradually. Decaf coffee is a type of coffee whose caffeine content has been reduced by at least 97 percent. Thus, decaf coffee contains an insignificant amount of caffeine. You can start with alternating between regular and decaf coffee and gradually switch to more decaffeinated coffee while tapering off caffeinated coffee.
As you reduce your coffee intake, drink more water. It’s healthier to drink water instead of caffeinated drinks. Besides, water will keep you thirst-free, thereby reducing your urge to drink coffee. Water also assists in flushing caffeine from the body and keeps you hydrated. Here are some healthy coffee alternatives that you may enjoy!
- Cold turkey strategy
In this coffee quitting strategy, you stop consuming coffee in one go. Although this is the fastest method of detoxing caffeine from your body system, it comes with numerous withdrawal symptoms. With this strategy, you might feel sickly for days or weeks and become less productive, especially if your addiction to coffee is severe. However, if you’re not severely addicted to coffee, you may find it easier to quit your coffee drinking habit with this strategy.
- Eliminate the underlying cause of the addiction
You’re probably relying on coffee to cover up for certain issues. In this case, it means you’re using coffee as a drug, and this may lead to severe addiction. In most cases, people drink coffee when feeling stressed. Others do it when dieting or for a quick energy boost. Some drink coffee as a habit. You should find and eliminate the underlying cause of your addiction to coffee. That way, you won’t have to drink coffee as there won’t be any reason to abuse it.
- Get sufficient sleep
You should allow your body to use its natural energy reserves. That way, you’ll train your body not to depend on coffee for a quick energy boost. One of the best ways of achieving this goal is to get sufficient sleep. It’s recommended to sleep for about 7 to 8 hours daily. By getting enough sleep, you’ll wake up feeling energized such that you won’t need coffee to wake up. Although you might find yourself sleeping extra hours when withdrawing from coffee, your body will get sufficient rest.
- Reduce your consumption of caffeine-containing foods and drinks
In several instances, people are not only addicted to drinking java but all foods and drinks that contain caffeine such as black tea, chocolate, and energy drinks. Any time caffeine gets eliminated from your body, you’ll feel the urge to take more caffeine to re-energize your body. Consequently, you’ll find yourself getting addicted to caffeine. Thus, gradually reduce your consumption of caffeine-containing foods and beverages.
Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms
If you’re addicted to coffee, you may experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it abruptly. The most common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
- Difficulty concentrating
Generally, the more coffee you’re used to drinking, the more acute the caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Essentially, the withdrawal symptoms may start about 12 hours after stopping your caffeine intake. The worst symptoms may be experienced after 2 to 3 days. The symptoms may last for 2 to 9 days.
If you experience any withdrawal symptoms, it’s advised to drink a lot of water daily. Staying hydrated will assist in combating the fatigue that comes from dehydration after stopping your coffee consumption ritual abruptly. Also, water will assist in flushing caffeine from the body system. It’s also recommended to eat plenty of veggies and fruits to support energy levels in your body as you get used to reducing and stopping your coffee intake.