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Is caffeine doing it for you?

Cop of coffeeDo you suffer from high blood pressure and/or high blood sugar levels? Do you feel tired or moody? Is PMS a dreaded monthly occurrence? Do you have digestive issues?

All of the above conditions are aggravated by regular caffeine consumption. The following post highlights some of the effects caffeine has on your body.

If you crave a coffee to get you through the day, you are not alone. The online survey of more than 1000 people across Australia revealed 90 per cent of Australian 18 and over drink coffee with almost a third drinking between 3-4 cups every day (1).

Caffeine containing drinks such as coffee, tea, soft and energy drinks such as Coke or Red Bull are very popular drinks and give you that much needed kick to get you going in the morning or to avoid that afternoon energy slump. Have you ever wondered what caffeine actually does to your body and how it affects your health?

I recently came across an interesting book called ‘Caffeine Blues – wake up to the hidden dangers of America’s #1 Drug’ by Stephen Cherniske. It is a big book and I won’t be able to cover it very extensively. However, I will give you the general idea and pick out some of the more interesting points.

  • Caffeine triggers the fight or flight stress reaction. It puts you into a constant state of emergency and this affects your health detrimentally. You could be at your desk when this stress mechanism is triggered. This means sugar and fat are released into the bloodstream with sugar contributing to metabolic stress and fat clogging your arteries. Your muscles are tense – but you can only grip your coffee mug so hard. Your blood flow has been diverted from gastrointestinal duties, the food you just ate will not be digested properly and cause some abdominal discomfort (p. 59). 

  • But I hear you say ‘my morning coffee gives me energy’. Caffeine does not provide energy – it provides chemical stimulation of the nervous system and adrenals. Stephen Cherniske says “imagine going to a bank for a loan. The loan office is super friendly and readily agrees. But as you leave the bank, you read in the fine print that the interest is 75 percent! Would you be interested in such a loan from your adrenals and liver, and the interest is extremely high? At some point (referred to as adrenal exhaustion) you may find yourself “bankrupt” and unable to repair the damage” (p.64)! 

  • How does caffeine cause high blood pressure or mood changes? Caffeine causes vascular resistance where blood vessels constrict and reduce blood flow, leading to increased blood pressure (p. 142). A similar effect can occur in your brain as caffeine decreases cerebral blood flow which impacts memory, mood and learning (p. 121). 

  • There is a strong link between caffeine and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). “…women consuming high amounts of tea suffered 80 percent more PMS. Women who consumed more than 4.5 cups of tea per day were almost 10 times as likely to suffer from PMS as women who drank none” (p. 242). The more caffeine you consume, the worse your PMS . 

  • A single cup of coffee can reduce iron absorption from a meal by as much as 75 percent. Iron is not easily absorbed at the best of times, and particularly menstruating women tend to have suboptimal iron levels (p. 91). 

  • Commercially grown coffee beans are one of the most heavily sprayed foods/ beverage commodities in the world (overall third, behind cotton and tabaco) (p. 267). If not organic, coffee is literally a cup of chemicals. This adds extra stress to an already overburdened digestive tract and liver trying to absorb and detox metabolic byproducts respectively.

You can see from above that caffeine affects you in many ways. There are always two sides and there are many studies showing benefits of caffeine. However, did you know that two of the most profitable companies in the world are the leading cola companies? Have you noticed that cafés and coffee bars are shooting up like mushrooms? That is because caffeine is addictive.

Where to from here? If you are concerned about the impacts of your own caffeine consumption and would like to address this issue, please contact Anita from Missing Link on 0457 584 459.

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