Caffeine is an addictive drug that stimulates the brain. It has a detrimental effect on your adrenal glands, the body’s energy-producing glands, which release adrenaline, the "fight or flight" hormone. This has a number of effects on your body: Your pupils dilate, your breathing rises, your heart beats faster, your blood pressure rises, blood flow to the stomach slows (restricting digestion), your liver releases sugar into the bloodstream for extra energy that the body doesn’t need, and your muscles tighten up, ready for action.
Once the adrenaline wears off, you are left feeling tired and depressed, so you consume more caffeine to get your adrenaline going again, and there you continue the perpetual cycle of caffeine dependence. As you might imagine, having your body in a state of emergency all day long isn't very healthy. Short term, stimulation with caffeine may be pleasurable, but long term it can leave you feeling stressed, fatigued and addicted to its effects.
The half-life of caffeine in your body is about 6 hours. Drinking a 300mg cup of coffee mid afternoon, will still leave 100 mg of that caffeine in your system by 9pm. You may be able to fall asleep, but your body will probably miss out on the benefits of deep sleep. That deficit adds up fast. Feeling worse for wear the next morning, you reach for more coffee. The cycle continues day after day. Cut it down.
SIMON’S TIPS: CAFFEINE
Start by reducing the number of cups of coffee or soft drinks that you drink daily, rather than cutting them out completely. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels in your brain and decreases circulation, so when you cut out caffeine the circulation to your brain and digestive system suddenly rises, leading to severe headaches, constipation and bowel upset. Drink plenty of water to help reduce the effects of cutting down.
Opt instead for a healthier option, such as Green Tea, which contains a natural ingredient that not only helps to speed up your metabolism but also acts as an anti-inflammatory, displays anti-cancer properties, and may even help control your cholesterol levels!
Tea contains caffeine too. Try one of the following instead: peppermint or herbal. They are caffeine-free and also good for aiding your body’s digestion. Don’t brew your normal tea so strongly. Rather than let the teabag diffuse for several minutes, let it colour and then remove.
Limit any coffee consumption to the morning. Avoid coffee after midday and tea after 5pm, so that your sleep patterns start to improve at night. The effects of caffeine can last for several hours after consumption.
Go ‘Decaff’! If you still enjoy the taste and social aspect of coffee, go for a de-caffeinated option, with organic milk and no sugar.
Dilute your coffee. Opt for a latte with skimmed milk rather than an espresso.
Switch alternate cups of coffee for pure juice or water. If your daily caffeine intake is fairly high, try to substitute every other cup of coffee you would drink for something caffeine free. Slowly start to swing the balance from coffee refreshment to alternatives.