Let's Talk Caffeine: how does caffeine affect my health?
Written by ALISON RALPH Updated June 12 2021
Are you someone who often says they need that cup of coffee in the morning or a person who eats chocolate late at night? Many people have been working from home this past year and continue to do so for the future. I have found that this has impacted on the number of coffees or teas people are drinking. It is so easy at home to have one each time your partner does or whenever you feel the need to get up from your desk. It has become a traditional part of many British people’s lives but it could be doing you more harm than good. Caffeine has impacts on our body in ways we couldn’t imagine and can often be linked to anxiety and insomnia. It might be useful for you to reduce your intake of caffeine or at the very least have more knowledge about it, especially if you feel that caffeine is affecting your health.
In this article I will talk about:
- What caffeine is and the foods it can be found in
- How caffeine can affect your health
- I have included a handy tool which will inform you if you are consuming too much caffeine
- Why you should reduce your caffeine intake
- My top tips for safely reducing caffeine
What is caffeine and where can it be found?
Quite simply put caffeine is a stimulant of the central nervous system. It can help you stay more alert and can stop tiredness. Caffeine is most commonly found in tea, coffee and cocao plants. It is the most widely used drug in the world with tea and coffee being the leading way to consume.
Caffeine causes us to have a short burst of energy by changing the chemical reactions in our brains. Producing more dopamine which makes us more alert and supressing melatonin which helps us to regulate our sleep and wake cycle. This interference through consuming caffeine could be affecting your health.
Caffeine can be found in some of your favourite foods and drinks such as chocolate, coke and energy drinks.
How is caffeine affecting my health?
Caffeine is a contributor and sometimes the cause of many issues people face such as, insomnia and anxiety. Caffeine essentially is a drug and quite an addictive one which makes changes to your brain, stopping it from functioning correctly.
When working with people who struggle with anxiety I often ask them about their caffeine consumption. Caffeine can cause physical affects to the body such as, a racing heart and this is a symptom of anxiety experienced by many people. When people feel that symptom of anxiety it can be difficult to stop thinking about it which causes more anxiety and then a vicious circle begins.
As mentioned above, caffeine gives us a kick and causes us to feel alert and suppresses the sleep hormone meaning that it can be more difficult for us to fall asleep or can cause us to wake during the night. If you already struggle with insomnia it may be a good idea to cut your caffeine consumption. You might just get a better night’s sleep!
Find out here how caffeine is affecting YOUR health.
If you would like to find out if your caffeine intake is affecting your health then use this handy diagnosis tool:
Why should I reduce my caffeine intake?
Large amounts of caffeine can change the way the brain functions and can cause many different health problems such as, difficulty losing weight, irritability, headaches, insomnia and increased heart rate.
If you reduce your caffeine consumption you may find that your energy levels are more consistent throughout the day because you are not giving yourself those short bursts of energy. You might also find that your anxiety levels reduce because the symptoms are not being created through the use of caffeine. Above all, you will feel good about yourself because you have made some changes to your overall health.
It is important to know that you should not just cut out caffeine straight away. It must be done safely to reduce side affects. The body builds up a tolerance towards caffeine and so to feel any affects from it we have to increase our intake. The problem with this is that the body thinks it needs this intake of caffeine in order to function properly and so reducing it, if not done safely, can create side affects such as headaches.
Here are my top tips for reducing your caffeine intake safely.
It is important to reduce the intake of caffeine slowly to allow the body to adjust. This will lessen any side affects.
If you have taken the test and have found that you need to consume less caffeine, here are my 5 top tips for reducing caffeine intake safely.
- Ingredients – caffeine is found in more foods than we realise. Study the ingredients in your foods and know which ones have caffeine in them so you can choose whether to consume them or not, or if you need to eat or drink them less.
- Decrease gradually – you must reduce the intake slowly because if you do not you might experience side effects. So, start with taking out two cups of coffee if you are somebody who consumes 6 a day. Take the ones out which you don’t rely on so much.
- Try something new – Try changing your tea/coffee or what ever else you are consuming, with something that doesn’t have caffeine as an ingredient.
- Go small! -if you are somebody who has a large cup each time you have a coffee or tea, change that to a small cup each time.
- Self-discipline – ask yourself “Do I really need that cup of coffee/tea?” and if the answer is no, skip it. Maybe stand up and have a little walk instead or a drink of fresh water.
I hope you have found this article useful in helping you to understand more about caffeine and how it affects you health.
If you have used the handy tool and feel that your caffeine intake should be reduced remember to use my top tips for safely reducing your caffeine to help improve your health.