What Is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a popular and common stimulant found in foods and beverages such as coffee, sodas, teas, energy drinks, energy bars, ice cream, chocolate, and more. This stimulant is a bitter substance that occurs naturally in more than 60 plants including coffee beans, tea leaves, kola nuts, and cacao pods. There is also a synthetic caffeine which is added to some medicines, foods and drinks. Caffeine increases the activity of your nervous system and is the most commonly consumed psychostimulant substance in the world. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies caffeine as safe and has stated that consuming up to 400mg of caffeine per day has not been associated with any adverse health effects in healthy adults- however, many studies over the years have observed some mixed results and some people may experience various negative side effects with the intake of less than 400mg per day. Within one hour of eating or drinking caffeine products, the substance reaches its peak level in your blood and you may continue to feel the effects of caffeine for four to six hours. Caffeine has many effects on your body, including the following- caffeine:
- stimulates your central nervous system (making you feel more awake)
- may cause frequent urination (caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that it helps your body get rid of extra salt and water)
- may cause heart palpitations
- may cause anxiety
- may cause insomnia
- may cause increased blood pressure
- may cause increased heart rate
- may interfere with the absorption of calcium in your body
- may increase the release of acid in your stomach, leading to upset stomach or heartburn
Finding Your Balance
Finding your balance with caffeine is extremely important- many people benefit from going completely caffeine-free, others benefit by being extremely intentional with it, and other people may benefit from only consuming certain types of caffeine (more on this in the article below). The way to find this out would be to take it out, put it back in, and monitor. Certain people may take it out for certain periods of time (for example, seasonally), to see how their body responds. If your body is responding by being depleted and fatigued, then it may be important to reset your adrenals by taking it out completely and testing to see how your body does without it. With that being said, some individuals should limit or avoid caffeine entirely- such as if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have sleep disorders, chronic headaches/migraines, have anxiety, have GERD, have high blood pressure, or take certain medicines or supplements.
Health Benefits of Limiting Caffeine Usage
Better Absorption of Nutrients. Diet is key to health in general, and each person is unique and requires unique nutrients for optimal functionality. Tannins (complex chemical substances derived from phenolic acids) found in caffeine may possibly inhibit some of the absorption of calcium, iron, and B vitamins from the diet you are eating. This may be a bigger possibility for those who have a very high caffeine intake daily, an imbalanced diet, or older age.
A Healthier Digestion. Coffee may create a laxative effect on some individuals, stimulating bowel movements, and consuming large amounts may lead to loose stools or even diarrhea. From a population based study, researchers have found that caffeinated beverages may play a role in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Lower Blood Pressure + Less Anxiety. Caffeine has been shown to increase blood pressure levels due to the stimulatory effect it has on your central nervous system. The energy that comes with caffeine often stimulates our fight or flight hormones and may cause anxiety, nervousness, heart palpitations, etc.
Getting Better Sleep. Drinking caffeine may affect your sleeping cycle, causing restless sleep, which then leads to daytime drowsiness (this can be especially true if you consume caffeine less than six hours before you go to sleep). Those who are not consuming caffeine may find it easier and takes them less time to fall asleep.
Withdrawal Symptoms & Duration
If you have been consuming caffeine on a regular basis and your body has become dependent on it, you may experience withdrawal symptoms as soon as 12 to 24 hours after suddenly stopping. These withdrawal symptoms include headaches, drowsiness, irritability, nausea, and trouble concentrating. Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal usually go away after a couple of days, but depending on how much caffeine you drinks, it can be anywhere from two to nine days.
Recommendations / Alternatives
Different types of caffeine work differently for each individual, and it is important to find your balance with this substance. For example, guarana is known for reducing fatigue, boosting energy and aiding in learning/memory. Although guarana contains caffeine, it has also been linked to better heart health, weight loss, pain relief, healthier skin, and lower cancer risk. It is widely available as a supplement and can easily be added into your diet to boost your energy levels or to simply improve your overall health. If you are shifting off drinking coffee, you may take guarana in a 1:1 ratio- if you take a coffee drink out, you can add guarana in its place.
If you are in the process of shifting off of caffeine, you can go to black tea or to matcha because these substances are less pharmacological in nature and they help to rebuild the system versus take from it. The supplement NAC, can also be extremely helpful for detoxing (3 capsules of NAC 600mg, twice a day), we recommend the brand Pure Encapsulations.
If you are having severe issues with detoxification, at this point you may want to consider using over the counter pain reliever through the transition to make it easier to come off of caffeine, but make sure to check with your trusted medical doctor on this option. In this case, you might also want to also consider NAD+ as an alternative, we recommend Thorne NiaCel 400 (1 capsule in the morning, 1 capsule in the afternoon).
For all of our recommendations and 15% off physician grade supplements, feel free to join our Fullscript online dispensary right here, it’s free to sign-up! This article (along with all of our other articles) will continuously be updated with the most relevant information and more recommendations will be added as we go along. Please feel free to reach out to us at anytime if you have any questions or would like to add anything to the conversation at email@example.com- we are open to any and all thoughts!
Caffeine brings communities together across cultures as a way to connect and be present socially. Intaking with intention is a skill that we can develop with time. There are many benefits to caffeine intake as well as drawbacks if it is overused because of the lack of awareness with our own bodies. If you don’t know where to start, feel free to check out our Mind Body Reset program, a 6 week reset program designed to establish a new baseline for your health.
- The Ultimate Tea Guide: Types of Teas & Their Benefits
- Matcha Green Tea Health Benefits
- A Practical Guide To Supplements- Favorite Brands, Philosophy & Function
- Diet Philosophy: Drop The Dogma & Discover What Works For YOU
- Diet Philosophy Part II: On Personalization
- Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Diet
- Resistant Starch Made Practical
Resources From Dr. Brooke Stuart / Let Go & Grow®
- For more holistic resources, sign up for our Free Let Go & Grow® Membership, where you will receive instant access to the heart based practice, a simple 3 min. meditation, a wellness workshop designed to optimize mental health & well-being, and so much more.
- For Let Go & Grow Publishing House books including the LG&G Holistic Guide Book, LG&G Journal, and the children’s book series Let’s Grow With Zo, check here.
- For more information, support and a tried and true springboard that can help you address the fundamentals and unlock your power to heal, make sure to schedule a free holistic consultation and check out our Let Go & Grow® Mind Body Reset, a 6 week reset program. To learn more about holistic healthcare and working with Dr. Brooke in private practice, check here.