Reaching for that next “cup of joe” is an ingrained habit for most small business owners, and many rely on it to boost flagging energy and fuel those long days in the office. But drinking too much coffee may not be the healthiest choice and could be doing more harm than good.
Countless studies in recent years have uncovered some intriguing health benefits of coffee when it’s consumed in moderation, including a reduced risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s; lower risk of type 2 diabetes; and a lower incidence of liver diseases.
Researchers believe these benefits are due in part to coffee’s high levels of antioxidants. But keep in mind the positive health benefits are dose-dependent, typically seen when study participants drank between two and four 8-oz cups of caffeinated coffee. That’s hardly a drop in the caffeinated bucket for most hard core coffee lovers.
What happens when a caffeine habit hits critical mass? Here are some negative effects coffee addicts may experience when taking in too much.
Because it’s a powerful stimulant, caffeine creates the illusion of providing limitless energy, but excessive coffee consumption actually depletes your supply of essential B vitamins, the true source of your body’s energy. It also short circuits naturally-generated energy by jolting your system with adrenaline, but you may pay the price later because once that hit of caffeine wears off, many experience low mood, exhaustion, and less energy than before.
Caffeine disrupts sleep quality by reducing rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the deep sleep your body needs to recuperate and process emotions. Habitually consuming coffee tends to create an ongoing cycle of sleeping poorly, waking in a fatigued fog, then reaching for the only thing that kicks you into gear, which leads to sleeping poorly….
Coffee is highly acidic and is irritating to the gastrointestinal track, so if you suffer from acid reflux or heartburn, coffee’s not helping matters. It’s also associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, and imbalances in your gut flora. Switching to decaf won’t solve these problems, since it’s even more acidic than regular coffee.
Blood Sugar Mayhem
Drinking too much coffee tends to increase the production of cortisol, which then causes inflammation-inducing insulin to rise. At the same time, caffeine decreases insulin sensitivity, making it difficult for your cells to respond correctly to fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Consistently high blood sugar levels can lead to deteriorating arteries and a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
Domino Effect of Adrenal Burnout
Too much caffeine messes with your other hormones, in addition to those connected to blood sugar. For example, coffee stimulates your adrenal hormones which triggers your fight or flight response. Stimulated too often, your adrenals may burn out, which prompts your body to use the replacement hormone progesterone in its place. Progesterone balances estrogen, but when it’s depleted because it is compensating for your adrenals, these hormones get out of whack, causing a whole host of consequences, including conditions like osteoporosis.
Quitting the Buzz
It’s important to note that not everyone reacts to caffeine the same way; some may be ultra-sensitive to coffee while others can handle higher doses and experience no issues. If your caffeine habit is getting out of control and you’re concerned, cutting back or stopping entirely may be a good move.
Kicking a caffeine addiction can be physically and emotionally difficult. Some people experience flulike symptoms, depression, and anxiety when attempting to cut back, even when eliminating just a cup a day. To reduce uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, experts recommend a slow taper, gradually reducing your caffeine amounts each day. One method involves replacing caffeinated coffee with decaf, although decaf does contain a small amount of caffeine, from a trace amount up to 25 mg per 8-oz serving.
To taper painlessly, try mixing in the decaf ratio by higher and higher amounts every few days until at the end of two weeks, you’re drinking 100 percent decaf without suffering the pounding headaches and nausea that a “cold turkey” approach often brings.
Are you ready to kick the caffeine habit? Tell us your experience – do you think coffee’s a problem or is it something you’d never give up?