Coffee and other sources of caffeine
In US offices, the coffee machine has long been one of the most important fixtures in the building. The energy kick consumed several times a day ensures the necessary alertness and wakefulness during working hours. But what other physical effects does caffeine have?
Each of us has our own personal source of caffeine – yours could be an espresso, or a cup of black tea. Whether one or the other, an estimated 80 percent of adults consume caffeine on a regular basis.
Caffeine is a stimulant and the most widely consumed (legal) drug in the world. As with all stimulants, caffeine consumption should not be unrestricted or excessive. I am far from saying that you should eliminate your coffee maker, or part of your beloved cup of freshly ground coffee in the morning. I will give you tips and suggestions below so that in the future you can enjoy caffeine consumption in amounts that will not negatively impact, important health processes or your mood.
How does caffeine work in the body?
Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and also affects other processes in the body, including the circulatory, digestive and excretory systems. Probably the most noticeable effects of caffeine, are the increase in alertness and wakefulness. Likewise, caffeine stimulates a brief increase in blood pressure.
Below, I’ll show you examples of how caffeine affects our mental and physical processes:
Caffeine blocks adenosine. Adenosine is a neurochemical and is built up in the body throughout the day. When adenosine levels rise, you get tired and aren’t as alert. Caffeine essentially mimics the presence of adenosine in the body, fooling the brain into thinking that there is no real adenosine at all.
Caffeine increases dopamine levels: dopamine is a neurochemical substance that activates parts of the pleasure center in the brain. Caffeine increases dopamine levels in a similar way that amphetamines do. This increases alertness and may also be part of what makes caffeine a habit.
Caffeine suppresses melatonin: This is the key element of why caffeine can disrupt your normal sleep-wake cycle. Caffeine even has a stronger effect on suppressing melatonin than bright light. The effects of caffeine are not immediate. It can take 25-45 minutes for the caffeine surge to kick in. This effect lasts for hours in the body. It can take six to eight hours for the stimulant effect of caffeine to be reduced by half. (half-life). Because of this long time span, caffeine is often underestimated as a reason for problems with falling asleep.
How much caffeine is right for me?
When it comes to daily caffeine consumption, it’s important to think about the amount and times during the day you consume caffeine. It’s also important to be aware of where a source of caffeine (besides coffee) is hidden everywhere. Tea, energy drinks, sodas and chocolate also count toward your personal daily caffeine account.
The first thing to note is that everyone reacts differently to caffeine. Some are more sensitive than others. Others metabolize caffeine faster than others. Many have also already become accustomed to the effect of, for example, poorer quality sleep.
For healthy adults, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recommends no more than 400 mg of caffeine daily. People with heart problems, or with high blood pressure should consult a doctor beforehand.
So how much is 400 mg of caffeine?
- One cup of coffee has about 90 mg of caffeine.
- One cup of espresso has about 80mg caffeine
- One can (250ml) of energy drink has about 80mg of caffeine
- One cup of black tea has about 40mg of caffeine
- One can of cola has about 25mg of caffeine
If you consume too much caffeine, this increases the risk of unsightly and potentially debilitating side effects, such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle tremors
- Increased heart rate
- Frequent bladder emptying
- Sleep disturbances
Chronic overuse can lead to a condition known as adrenal fatigue. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- Weight gain
- Memory loss
- Low sex drive
Adrenal fatigue is also associated with other conditions, including obesity, depression, heart disease and insomnia.
A few words about the huge coffee drinks that are so popular nowadays. A 250ml large cup of coffee contains about 90- 100 mg of caffeine. A 250ml cup of black tea contains about 40-50 mg of caffeine and green tea about 30 mg per 250ml. Compare these very moderate amounts of caffeine to what you’ll find in supersized drinks on the market. A 550ml coffee drink, from some of the popular chains, can contain 400 mg or more of caffeine. A 450ml energy drink can contain 150-300 mg of caffeine or more – a really concentrated energy drink has more than 300 mg of caffeine in a 230ml size. So beware of the size and content of your favorite product.
Energy Drinks. The devil wears wings.
However, the subject of energy drinks should be mentioned separately. These drinks have, in addition to caffeine and a variety of synthetic ingredients, especially a lot of sugar. As a simple and quick (lifestyle) kick, the energizer is often drunk several times a day. Combined with alcohol, it is supposed to provide for long party nights. However, the consequences for the body are fatal. So worrying, in fact, that even government agencies now expressly warn against regular (over)consumption.
If you like to consume energy drinks and do not want to do without them, you can now resort to natural drinks. These drinks often consist of matcha/guarana combinations and are combined with organic direct juices. Again, you should pay attention to the amount of drinks consumed, but the biological value for your body is much better.
More importantly, why do you like to drink energizer drinks? Because you feel tired, or because you can’t get the performance you want? Then you have a good chance of suffering from chronic sleep deprivation. Take care of this problem, and your cravings for caffeinated beverages will likely resolve themselves.
As for the timing of caffeine, I recommend you stop caffeine consumption completely after 2:00pm/ 3:00pm. If you like to drink coffee in the afternoon, it’s best to switch to a decaf alternative after 2. 00 pm. Wondering why so early in the day? Caffeine has a long half-life, between 6-8 hours. That means it can take up to eight hours for half of the caffeine to be metabolized by your body. A coffee at 2pm, may be the reason you can’t fall asleep at 10:30pm.
The more caffeine you consume, the less effective it will be at keeping you awake. This can cause you to need more caffeine and make you more susceptible to negative side effects like insomnia, tremors, and eventually adrenal fatigue. If you’re a coffee “junkie” who can’t bear to part with the taste and ritual of drinking coffee, switch to decaf in the afternoon – That way you’ll avoid caffeine tolerance and stress on your adrenals.
Caffeine addiction, caffeine withdrawal, caffeine overdose
Caffeine is a drug. And like any other drug, there is a risk of addiction. Caffeine addiction is common among people with insomnia and other forms of sleep deprivation. The need for caffeine puts you in a vicious cycle: caffeine disrupts your sleep and makes you more dependent on caffeine – which makes it all the more difficult for you to fall asleep the next night. Breaking the cycle of caffeine dependence can help your sleep, leaving you less tired and more focused during the day.
You want to reduce your caffeine intake. Great! How do you avoid the negative consequences of caffeine withdrawal? Dropping habits can actually lead to some pretty intense, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, including:
– Difficulty concentrating
– Flu-like symptoms: Muscle aches, nausea and vomiting
Here are a few tips on how you can intelligently reduce caffeine:
Track your caffeine intake. Spend a week consuming caffeine as you normally do, and keep a very accurate record of everything you take that contains caffeine.
Start reducing caffeine gradually. For the first week, reduce your caffeine intake by about 40 mg a day – the rough equivalent of about ½ cup of coffee, or a little over 30g of dark chocolate. Watch your late-night caffeine consumption first, such as late afternoon, or that cup of coffee after dinner. Make sure to replace the caffeinated drink with something else, such as decaffeinated tea.
Continue to reduce your daily caffeine intake by the same 40 mg per week until you reach your new goal.
Other tips to help you reduce caffeine levels:
– Don’t forget to include ALL of your caffeine sources. This includes chocolate and other desserts (e.g., iced coffee, tiramisu), beverages, snacks, and medications.
– Have your most caffeinated beverages early in the day and gradually switch to lower caffeine products and then decaffeinated coffee throughout the day. Coffee in the morning, black tea at lunch, and herbal tea in the evening is a good start.
Is it possible that a caffeine overdose has already occurred?
Caffeine overdoses are rare, but they can occur. According to scientific estimates, the amount of caffeine needed to trigger an overdose is 5g-10g (5. 000mg-10. 000 mg). However, in recent years there have been a small number of deaths from caffeine, especially in younger people.
I encourage all my clients, especially those trying to kick a heavy caffeine habit, to switch from a coffee break to a sun break. Light is a powerful mental stimulant. Natural light exposure can increase energy, focus, productivity, mood and attention span. Research suggests that exposure to natural, outdoor light can provide increased alertness. Exposure to light in the afternoon has been shown to be as effective as a short nap in improving some of our cognitive abilities.
Adequate, direct sunlight exposure can have many health benefits, including increasing vitamin D levels. It can strengthen your sleep-wake cycle and help you stay more alert during the day and sleep deeper, as well as better, at night.
Instead of heading to the coffee cart, or drink machine in the afternoon, switch up your routine and treat yourself to a 10-minute dose of sunlight.
The benefits of caffeine
Caffeine is not your enemy! Consumed thoughtfully and in moderation, caffeine can provide a number of mental and physical health benefits. Studies suggest that caffeine can reduce the risk of several types of cancer, as well as lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Caffeine may also reduce the risk of depression. There is also evidence that caffeine may help protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Good news for sports enthusiasts: caffeine can help with exercise by boosting calorie burn and reducing muscle soreness after a workout.
Caffeine also helps with mental performance. It has been shown to improve memory and reaction time and increase cognitive flexibility. – Our ability to change the train of thought between subjects –
Try a napuccino
The idea: combine a moderate amount of caffeine with a short nap. Sounds good, right? It’s a great trick for when you need to power through a long day, but don’t want to overload your caffeine levels. Here’s how it works:
Drink an espresso and lie down immediately after, for a short 20-minute power nap. (Be careful not to sleep in longer than that. Set yourself a timer or alarm. )
Why this works: During naps, your body reduces adenosine, that substance that builds up throughout the day and makes you sleepy. (Remember, caffeine fits perfectly into this receptor in the brain.) The caffeine blocks the buildup of adenosine and then lets you wake up when the stimulant effects kick in.
Don’t use the napuccino more than twice a week. If you feel like you need it more often, you most likely just need more sleep.
Coffee and other addictive substances in the context of corporate health management
For companies, the topic of coffee in the context of addictive substance prevention, is an important and not to be underestimated topic. Educational campaigns and health days on the subject of caffeine and addictive substances are becoming increasingly popular.