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Caffeine Addiction


I can’t function in the morning without two very large cups of coffee. Until I get my caffeine fix I’m a blundering zombie, uncommunicative, grumpy and just out of sorts generally. It is a standing joke within my circle of friends and close family that nobody speaks to me until I’ve had my ‘fix’ as it’s much too dangerous. On stressful days, my coffee consumption goes up to counteract life’s pressures and when I’m tired I use it as a stimulant.

I’ve never considered my coffee drinking habit to be a problem. It doesn’t give me any side effects apart from having to find a suitably large tree to ‘visit’ when out for long dog walks in the morning! But having had a chronic illness diagnosed 3 years ago I’ve been on a mission to improve my health through diet and the words “reduce caffeine levels” keep popping up in my research.

Caffeine Intoxication

Intoxication through excessive caffeine consumption produces restlessness, excitement and insomnia. Stomach problems such as gastrointestinal complaints and a need to urinate frequently are also side effects. Depression and anxiety can be caffeine related. High caffeine intake has been linked to accelerated bone loss in post-menopausal women, though adding milk to the coffee can counteract this.  Cutting back on coffee and tea intake can help but with more and more everyday products containing caffeine like sweets and energy drinks it’s difficult to actually monitor how much caffeine a person is actually consuming.

Excessive consumption can actually result in death. Now to drink enough coffee to do this I would have to have a bladder the size of a large camel.  I drink the equivalent of about eight espressos a day plus tea. Throw in some chocolate, a handful of chocolate biscuits, ice cream, a couple of soft diet drinks and some chewing gum into the equation and all of a sudden caffeine levels shoot sky high.

The Good News

It’s not all bad though. Caffeine doesn’t cause heart disease and used in moderation can actually be protective. Use of caffeine in a calorie-controlled diet can help with weight loss and it can also help reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and hepatic diseases relating to the liver.

Quitting

Cutting back slowly will minimise withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea and stress. Complimentary therapies such as acupuncture can help with these symptoms. Changing over to caffeine- free drinks and cutting chocolate from the diet can support the quitting process. As excessive caffeine consumption can deplete calcium levels so either taking a supplement or increasing the use of dairy products in the diet will be beneficial to health.

As for me? Well, I’m going to carry on with my morning caffeine fix. It’s not harming me and it’s a habit that I enjoy. But I am watching out for caffeine in the rest of my diet and will remove it to help with my general health. As the saying goes “everything in moderation.”

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