The caffeinated beverage industry pulls in over $200 billion annually, and nearly half of that comes from coffee. The world is filled with more than one billion coffee drinkers, with people in the U.S. consuming about 400 million cups per day — that's a lot of peppiness.
Coffee, and more broadly caffeine, culture is normal, if not stereotypically, adult behavior. Television and media indulge in the coffee-obsessed workaholic, the parents that can't bear to take their children to school without a cup of Joe, the young professional that can't stay awake for another budget meeting without another cappuccino. Even struggling college students buy into the caffeine culture with fancy coffees in the morning and energy drinks in the evenings.
Caffeine is synonymous with increased energy, alertness, and performance, but is the cultural assumption accurate, or would you be better off without the substance. No one is saying an occasional coffee is bad; in fact, countless studies argue the opposite. Still, too much caffeine is not a good thing, and cutting back or eliminating it from your diet can provide many health benefits.
Advantages of Eliminating Caffeine
Many people consume caffeinated beverages or take caffeine supplements because they need an energy boost. While caffeine will provide a pick-me-up, especially if you are not dependent on the substance, the chemical reaction also stimulates the body's fight or flight hormones.
For people with anxiety, caffeine can worsen the condition, causing nervousness and possibly triggering panic attacks. Therefore, limiting or eliminating caffeine from your diet can result in reduced anxiety.
Additionally, avoiding caffeine can lead to better nutrient absorption. Caffeine contains tannins — astringent and bitter compounds — that may reduce the absorption of iron, calcium, and B vitamins.
High caffeine intake can also increase your risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. By avoiding caffeine, you can prevent the stimulatory effect of the substance, which can mean lower blood pressure.
Finally, if you decide to cut caffeine, you might find that you sleep better. Studies have shown that daily coffee drinkers alter their sleep cycles, leading to restless sleep and daytime drowsiness.
Addictive Qualities of Caffeine
Caffeine is an addictive substance, which is why frequent coffee drinkers feel they need it to function. Unfortunately, the overuse of caffeine results in a perpetual cycle of cravings and dependency.
Using caffeine on occasion can provide an energy boost. Still, if used often, the initial energy boost is diminished and replaced by feelings of sluggishness and fatigue. The problem is that people feel like they need more caffeine to get out of their brain fog when the caffeine is causing the issue.
Unfortunately, because caffeine is addictive, frequent users need to realize they may experience withdrawal symptoms if they decide to cut the substance out of their diet. The symptoms can start within 24 hours and last up to nine days, depending on the level of dependency. Most people experience peak withdrawal symptoms between 21 and 50 hours of stopping the substance.
Caffeine has its usefulness. Still, it becomes addictive when consumed daily and can lead to health problems. While you do not have to eliminate caffeine from your diet, there are many benefits to doing so, including better sleep, lower blood pressure, and less anxiety. However, before making any dietary decisions, you should consult your primary care physician.
Do you think you will cut caffeine from your diet?