Caffeine is the most commonly used mood-altering drug in the world. It is estimated that 80-90% of North American adults and children consume caffeine. The caffeine in our diet is mostly found from coffee (77-150 mg per 6 oz cup), tea (30-90 mg per 6 oz cup), soft drinks (22-71 mg per 12 oz can), chocolate milk, dark and milk chocolate and analgesics.
30 mg of caffeine per day can alter mood and affect behaviour while 100 mg per day can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. This is not a lot when considering the average adult in our society consumes 280 mg/day.
Caffeine affects your health in many ways. It acts on your body like any other “stressor”, triggering the release of hormones and initiating your body’s ‘fight or flight” responses. These responses act to increase body temperature, heart rate and energy levels as well as generate rambling flow of thought and speech, GI upset, anxiety attacks, agitation, increased need to urinate and disruptions in sleep. Sounds like a great beverage!
Daily consumption of caffeine also leads to negative affects on blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels, delayed conception and lower birth weight babies. Daily consumers of caffeine have been found to have delayed onset of sleep, total reduced sleep time and decreased quality and stages of sleep.
So you are hooked! For regular users, caffeine actually reinforces itself, talking your body into wanting more like any other drug. Withdrawal can occur after 12-24 hours without 1 cup of coffee (100 mg caffeine/day). Without your cup of java, 73% of us will experience symptoms such as headache, fatigue, drowsiness, decreased work productivity, irritability, depression, anxiety and/or flu-like symptoms of nausea/vomiting, muscle aches/stiffness and hot/cold spells.
There is hope! Although caffeine triggers a central mechanism into making you WANT more, the peak effects of withdrawal will be between 20 – 48 hours and will, at the MOST, last 5-7 days. So can you suck up a few days of discomfort to afford yourself a healthier lifestyle? Take a “health day” from life and kick the habit! Your body will thank you!