November 2, 2012

Caffeine – its perks and problems

Coffee — it’s a recovery meeting staple. But when it comes to caffeine, how much is too much? you need coffee to wake up and get through your day? You’re not alone. Caffeine can provide a daily boost by stimulating the central nervous system, alleviating fatigue, increasing wakefulness and improving focus. There are times, however, when you should consider cutting back on your intake.

According to Mayo Clinic, moderate doses of caffeine— roughly two to four cups of coffee a day—isn’t harmful for most healthy adults. But there are signs to look out for that signify you should cut down your normal caffeine routine.

If you drink more than four cups a day, think about slowly cutting it down. It’s an excessive amount for your body.  These heavy daily doses of caffeine can cause muscle tremors, fast heartbeat, an upset stomach, irritability, restlessness, nervousness and insomnia.

Mayo Clinic also points out that caffeine affects everyone differently — some are most sensitive. Plus, body mass, age, medication use and health conditions such as anxiety disorders also cause different effects. So, take an inventory of your effects at what levels of caffeine intake.

So, how do you cut back? There are guidelines to follow as an abrupt decrease in caffeine may cause caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, irritability and nervousness.

To change your caffeine habit more gradually, Mayo Clinic suggests the following tips:

·         Keep tabs. Start paying attention to how much caffeine you're getting from foods and beverages. It may be more than you think. Read labels carefully.

·         Cut back. But do it gradually. For example, drink one fewer can of soda or drink a smaller cup of coffee each day. Or avoid drinking caffeinated beverages late in the day. This will help your body get used to the lower levels of caffeine.

·         Go decaf. Most decaffeinated beverages look and taste the same as their caffeinated counterparts.

·         Shorten the brew time or go herbal. When making tea, brew it for less time. This cuts down on its caffeine content. Herbal teas also don’t have caffeine.

·         Check the bottle. Some over-the-counter pain relievers contain caffeine — as much as 130 mg of caffeine in one dose. Look for caffeine-free pain relievers.

Click here to learn how medications, supplements and sleep can also affect how your body reacts to caffeine.  

Image courtesy of dspruitt/

Comments are closed here.

Starbucks K-Cups