I have a drug that will cause you to feel more stressed, more tense and more run- down â€“ do you want some? Nine out ten adults in the U.S. take it every day for its upside of effect. That drug is caffeine.
The energy we get from caffeine is pseudo-energy. It is nervous system or endocrine system energy, the same form of energy that amphetamines give us. Caffeine also produces the same response that stress produces when it creates the â€œfight or flightâ€ response. Caffeine, uppers, and stress all rev up our bodies in the short run while over time wearing us out.
We often crave our hit of caffeine when we are coming down from being â€œupâ€ from stress. I suspect the first addiction we all experience is the one of stress and its drug of adrenaline. Yes, I know none of us wants to be stressed out, yet we often enjoy the rush of being under pressure and feeling the effects of adrenaline. When the adrenals begin to burn out from constant use, we look for a back up. Caffeine is happy to supply us with itâ€™s adrenaline effect.
Bottom line â€“ caffeine increases the affects of stress. Insomnia, mood swings, body tension, hindered digestion, increased blood pressure and heart rate, along with strained and worn-out kidneys and adrenals. Caffeine acts as a powerful vasoconstrictor, restricting the flow of oxygen to the brain and impairing memory. The headache from quitting caffeine is actually a result of blood returning to the brain.
Caffeine decreases DHEA, the rejuvenation hormone. DHEA supports the anti-aging processes and the immune system. DHEA also acts as a precursor to sex hormones and increases brain’s serotonin levels – what Prozac claims to do.
It is true that caffeine speeds up our metabolism. Yet it also ages us because our metabolism is sped up. Caffeine promotes weight gain, particularly abdominal fat, which is the most dangerous fat. Under stress, we crave carbohydrates and fats for quick energy. Meanwhile, our bodyâ€™s digestion turns down while our blood and resources are allocated to areas necessary for survival, such as our big muscles.
I realize that even volumes devoted to the reasons on caffeineâ€™s harmful effects would not be enough for most of us to quit. My hope is that learning about caffeineâ€™s full effects will encourage us to look for ways to reduce our consumption.
The usual suggestions of switching to decaffeinated beverages and no caffeine after 2 pm will help. Note that Stanford University recently did a study that showed decaf coffee raises cholesterol levels faster than caffeinated coffee (decaf cup has 7 mg of caffeine).
Switching to herb teas can help, but be warned that these herbs have caffeine: guarana, kola nut, yerba matÃ©, and ephedrine from Ma Huang. Most sodas and chocolates have caffeine as well.
The best and perhaps the most challenging way to reduce caffeine intake is to reduce our stress. Less stress reduces the craving for the boost that caffeine provides. Less stress, over time allows our vital energy to rise. This energy is, known as â€œchiâ€, by Oriental medical practitioners and martial artists. By not feeding our need for short term energy and by building our chi, we can decrease the desire for caffeine and increase our health.
Addendum â€“ One day when you are hyped up and are looking for something to do, your can calculate you caffeine intake using this data base.