Caffeine: When to avoid and ways to cut back

Caffeine - how much is too much?

Caffeine, found in the bean of the coffee plant, is a bitter xanthine alkaloid. It is present in coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and some energy drinks. Cafeine acts as a stimulant on our nervous system. It is one of the widely consumed substance in the world. The effect of caffeine differs from person to person since the tolerance level varies with every individual. Caffeine wards off drowsiness and helps to restore mental alertness. Our body takes 30 to 40 minutes to absorb caffeine. It is shown to have effects on gastric and colon system as well. FDA classifies moderate intake of caffeine as safe. This means, intake of up to 200 to 300 mg per day is considered to be normal and safe on the human body. Anything beyond this dosage is considered high. Heavy intake of caffeine can cause various effects on the body including palpitation, nervousness, upset stomach, muscle shivers, anxiety disorders, and insomnia, to mention a few.

When to consider cutting back

Caffeine, when taken regularly over a long period of time, makes a person addicted to it. A caffeine addict would feel jittery, nervous, has headaches if he is not able to get it. Too much consumption of caffeine can cause serious nervous disorders including death. Drinking more than four cups of coffee per day, increases the risk of heart problems. Adults normally require eight hours of sleep every night. However, caffeine overdose can interrupt your sleep causing insomnia. If you are a regular drinker of tea, coffee, or any other caffeine related drink, it is high time to notice its side effects and attempt to reduce it, if not stop completely. Your body is the perfect guide to let you know with the warning signs as to when caffeine intake should be withdrawn or stopped. Taking too much stress, lack of sleep, feeling over energized, bloating of stomach are some of the implications which should make you think about stopping your caffeine intake.

Ways to cut back on caffeine

1. Gradual withdrawal

Condition your mind to say “NO” to caffeine whenever you feel the urge to grab that cup of coffee. Commit to help yourself by avoiding caffeine. But if you stop caffeine intake abruptly, you will feel exhausted and awful. Craving for caffeine would not let you concentrate on other things. Hence, make a start gradually. Drink fewer and smaller cups to help you fight the initial urge. Drink your beverage with less amount of caffeine.

2. Eat and drink smart

You need to plan your overall nutrition when you are gradually stopping caffeine from your diet. Have a combination of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Since there will be a reduction in your caffeine intake, you will have to replenish the energy through healthy food and drinks. Eat wisely to ensure that you do not have crash of carbohydrates in your body because this is when you may have the craving. Have lots of fruits and other snacks which are caffeine free. Also drink plenty of water. This will help prevent headache, dizziness, and irritability.

3. Distraction is the key

When you do have the urge to drink coffee, distract yourself by engaging in some fun filled activities. Talk to your friends or loved ones, to relieve tension. Read the guideline you have set to avoid caffeine. This would help you stick to your goal. Go for a short brisk walk to thwart the urge. Chewing gum is known to overcome caffeine urge.

4. Medicines

Caffeine withdrawal symptoms include headaches, exhaustion, restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia. Look for caffeine-free pain relievers to alleviate the symptoms. It is advisable to take your doctor’s guidance before taking any medicine.

5. Exercise regularly

Find alternate sources to keep you energetic and fit. Involve in regular physical activity throughout the day to keep you fit and energized. Meditate to help you have a better control over yourself.

6. Decaffeinated coffee

Decaffeinated coffee and tea goes through a process in which caffeine is removed from the coffee beans, tea leaves, and cocoa. Despite the removal, studies find that nearly one to two percent of caffeine still remains. Heavy coffee drinkers quickly switch to drinking decaffeinated coffee. However, having five to ten cups of decaffeinated coffee easily reaches the level present in a normal caffeinated coffee. You could get easily addicted to decaffeinated coffee. Hence, it is better to switch to alternate health drinks such as plain water, fresh fruit juice or smoothies.

Remember, caffeine does not pose any threat if taken in limit. But it is always better to know its ill effects so that you can curb it. Be conscious to have self control to give up the craving for caffeine.

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