The Eye-Opening Truth About Caffeine
Whether you are a devoted coffee, tea, soda or energy drinker, you might be surprised by some of the latest information coming out about caffeine. We know that caffeine does affect the brain, but, of course, much less than other drugs such as cocaine and heroin. It is still considered an addictive drug. Let's take a look at the consequences and effects that caffeine dependence has on our bodies.
More than 70 plants produce caffeine and use it as a pesticide. Knowing this, it should not come as a surprise that human bodies have a low tolerance for high levels of caffeine. It belongs to the alkaloid family, such as morphine and codeine, and the xanthine family, from which most stimulants are made. The combination of these two families makes us feel less tired and fires neurons faster. Our body perceives this as an emergency. It floods the body with dopamine, epinephrine, cortisol, and acetylcholine.
In addition, our muscles tighten, pupils dilate, pulse rate increases, and blood vessels constrict. Less blood flow is the reason caffeine is included in many pain relievers. The biochemistry of caffeine classifies it as an addictive substance.
Caffeine dependence is classified as a disorder and has real negative consequences. It is linked to age-related diseases such as osteoporosis and premature aging. Because it also contributes to cellular aging, it can cause early wrinkles, gray hair, and hair loss.
One of the more well-known effects of caffeine is getting a good night's rest. Many people are careful not to drink caffeine in the afternoon so it won't keep them awake at bedtime. Caffeine takes at least six hours to be metabolized. So if you plan to sleep at 10 PM, you better not have caffeine after 2 PM. It contributes to disruptive sleep patterns, which then contribute to the sleepiness you feel the following day. Getting insufficient sleep increases the chances of overeating, impairs cognitive function, and disrupts our endocrine system.
This information may prompt you to quit drinking caffeinated drinks. However, the withdrawal from caffeine is known to cause headaches, brain fog, lethargy, irritability, depression and sleepiness. The good news is these symptoms don't stay around long-term.
If you feel you can't give up caffeine entirely, try consuming small amounts, one to two cups of coffee, right before exercising. Try healthier options such as green tea which also contains antioxidants and amino acids. Tea or coffee in moderation do have some health benefits such as life longevity.
If you are drinking more than two cups per day, it would be wise to cut back gradually over a few weeks. This will minimize the withdrawal symptoms. Big problems arise when large amounts of caffeine are used to counteract sleep deprivation. Many American consumers are caught in the circle of low energy and little sleep, and thus, high caffeine intake.