November 22, 2017

Habit 2 Part 1 Drinking Too Much Caffeine

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Part 1

Drinking too much caffeine

Do you love your morning cuppa?

Is your day not properly started unless you have had your morning brew?

Are you a tea or coffee person?

I have to confess I am a tea girl. I remember even as a child, being woken up by my mum with a morning cup of tea. Then when I joined the Army the first item I bought with my pay packet was a kettle so I could enjoy an early morning cuppa before breakfast in the cookhouse. Then on some of the Army wards I worked on as a nurse we had a routine of providing a cup of tea whilst we had ward report from the night staff. Some mornings I had 3 cups of tea before 8 in the morning! No surprise then that the hardest habit to change for me was tea habit.

Now it must be said that there are many health benefits to drinking tea and coffee in moderation. For example the flavinoids, antioxidants, in tea do everything from protect your heart to protecting your teeth. And in coffee there have been reports that drinking it may reduce the risk of developing gallstones. So it is not all bad news.

The problem is that many of us do not drink tea or coffee in moderation but consume copious cups each day. I had a 12 to 15-cup of tea a day habit at one time. Add into this the combination of excessive caffeine and associated dehydration because we do not drink enough water as well and all of a sudden our lovely cuppa goes from being a healthy habit to a health hazard.

Caffeine is in both tea and coffee. The average mug of tea contains 75mg of caffeine, a mug of instant coffee 100mg, and a mug of filter coffee 140mg. Most healthy adults should have about 200-300mg of caffeine per day.

So what is caffeine and why is it a lifestyle mistake?

Caffeine is a natural stimulant that gets into our blood stream very fast and then acts upon your nervous system. It basically blocks the releases of some of your chemical messengers and stimulates the release of others, essentially messing up the delicate balance of your vital organs, in particular your brain and heart. Now on the plus side this can make you feel more alert, increase your attention span and speed up your metabolism. On the downside it stimulates your eliminatory system as it is a mild diuretic, so you urinate more (now you know why you make all those trips to the toilet) and it disrupts the calcium balance of your cells. This is particularly dangerous for postmenopausal women who are high volume tea and coffee drinkers as it puts them at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis.

Positive effects of caffeine

  • Increase attention
  • Increase alertness
  • Decrease in fatigue
  • Decrease in risk of cardio-vascular disease
  • Decrease risk of diabetes
  • Increased metabolic rate

Negative effects of Caffeine

  • Increased anxiety
  • It is addictive
  • Increased headaches
  • Increased vasoconstriction
  • Raises blood pressure
  • Reduces fine motor control
  • Increases urination

As I said ideally you should have 200-300mg of caffeine a day. That works out at 2-3 cups of coffee a day (depending on your preference for instant or filter) and 4 cups of tea. Anymore is classed as high caffeine intake. And 600mg a day or more can cause insomnia, irritability, nervousness, restlessness, fast heart rate, muscle tremors, and upset stomach including diarrhoea. So my 12 cups a day habit was excessive to say the least. And yes I did have the racing heart, which is quite frightening to experience even when you know and understand why it’s happening.

So what is your current caffeine habit looking like? Take this quick quiz to find out whether you have a caffeine problem or not.

Quick Quiz. 

Answer YES or No to the question. Answer them honestly (you are only lying to yourself if you don’t) and then add up your Yes and No’s

1. Do you drink a caffeinated beverage daily?

2. Do you get headache if you haven’t had any caffeine by lunchtime?

3. Do you consume over 500mg of caffeine daily? (cup of tea 75mg cup of instant coffee 100mg, cup of filter 140mg)

4. Do you feel irritable if you don’t get your morning cup of tea/coffee?

5. Do you drink more caffeinated beverages than you do plain water?

Results

5/5 Ooops, you have a caffeine problem. Not only do you need to cut back you also need to make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Your cells are crying out for water.

3/5 Well done but improvements can be made. Make sure that you stay hydrated and drink 8 glasses of water each day as well as your few caffeine drinks.

1/5 Well done you caffeine is not a problem for you. Keep up the good work and make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water each day.

Tips to help you cut back

Even mild caffeine overuse needs to be managed gently. Talk to any caffeine addict who has gone cold turkey and quit caffeine completely and they will tell you it is a dreadful experience. As you body withdraws you suffer nausea, headaches, drowsiness, and flu like muscle pains that can go on for up to 10 days. It is far better to wean yourself off caffeine slowly until you have got your levels down to the recommended daily amount of 200mg.

1. Slowly reduce by 1 cup every day for 10 days

2. Alternate between caffeinated tea/coffee and decaffeinated. I have even been known to mix up the two types of teabags in my tea jar so I don’t know if it’s a caffeinated brew or not. Nowadays I have control over my caffeine habit and have a decaffeinated tea first thing in the morning then caffeinated in the middle of the day and decaffeinated after 6pm

3. Increase the amount of pure water you are drinking

4. Peppermint tea can help with the nausea when you are withdrawing

5. Lavender oil in an aromatherapy burner may help with the headaches.

 

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