Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Caffeine Controversy
According to the AMA it suggest that one to two 8oz cups of coffee per day is a safe amount. In reality caffeine tolerance varies from person to person. In order for an individual to hear their body’s real signals, you have to remove caffeine long enough to tune in. Because caffeine is addictive, even this temporary caffeine withdrawal can be a real source of anxiety and discomfort for many people.
Ninety percent of Americans consume caffeine every day, including children. So whether you have a one-cup or one-pot-a-day habit, it may be time to look at your caffeine use. Is it time for you to take a brief holiday from caffeine? If you are having trouble with the idea of giving up your daily caffeine, you have good reason. Caffeine is addictive on many levels, not the easiest being its role in social, historical, commercial and private ritual. If you’re not sure whether or not you are addicted, take my quiz to find out.
QUIZ Answer YES or NO to the following questions:
* Do you use caffeine to facilitate a physical activity (for example: waking up, exercising, having a bowel movement, concentrating)?
*Do you have to have caffeine in the morning? Can you substitute hot water with lemon?
*Do you crash or have caffeine/sugar cravings in the afternoon or early evening?
*Do you grow irritable, have headaches, feel disembodied if you miss your caffeine fix?
*Do you have difficulty falling asleep at night?
*Do you have difficulty waking feeling refreshed?
*Do you need caffeine to heighten the effects of other substances; eg nicotine, alcohol, sugar?
*Do you feel your social routines would suffer without caffeine use?
*Does the idea of going without caffeine seem impossible to you?
If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, the time may be to examine your attachment to caffeine. Anytime a person feels that they cannot be themselves without using a substance, it raises a big red flag. In my opinion, caffeine tolerance relates largely to how well an individual detoxifies. Since we detoxify occurs mostly in our sleep, the very thing caffeine works against. Habitual or excessive caffeine ultimately sabotages the body’s defenses.
The caffeine cycle - energy boost, then the let down. Adenosine a neurotransmitter helps you feel drowsy by slowing down nerve cell activity within the brain’s center. During sleep our bodies and brain detoxify and heal, adenosine levels have a huge role within our picture of health. Caffeine fools your fatigue factor. Caffeine binds to adenosine receptors on the nerve cells and speeds them up and constricts the blood vessels in the brain. This is why caffeine is used to treat headaches. Caffeine also triggers an upswing in cortisol (a stress reliever hormone) and dopamine (a motor skill hormone), all which activates the pleasure center of our brain.
When the rush is over and adrenaline levels drop, fatigue, irritability, inability to concentrate, headache, and weariness take over, setting yourself up for a big caffeine and sugar craving. Caffeine is a habitual forming drug, and over time it takes more and more caffeine to produce the desired effect. Caffeine’s effects last up to three to four hours but will sustain in your body for as long as 8 hours. Habitual users will experience real caffeine withdrawal symptoms within hours of reducing the intake, usually headache and a drop in blood pressure, nausea, fatigue, irritability, anxiety and depression.
No one is asking you to quit caffeine completely, just move towards a healthier relationship with it. But be prepared caffeine is not an easy drug to quit. One idea is to start with a half-n-half system. You can start by brewing half caffeine and half-decaf at home or ordering it half-calf at your local coffee shop. Switch to an afternoon of green tea one that contains 50% less caffeine than coffee. While you slowly cut down on your caffeine consumption you will build a better support system for your body.
Other thoughts: Recognize that caffeine is not food or a fluid replenisher. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach increase stomach acid, which can cause peptic ulcers, heartburn and add sugar to sweeten it, upsets insulin and cortisol levels. Drink a glass of water upon rising and then eat a high protein breakfast, then if you still want your cup of coffee - remember half-calf.
Go to bed earlier. Allow yourself a strict 8 hours of sleep each night. Sleep is important to detoxify and heal the body. Guaranteed to lessen the need for that 2nd or 3rd cup of caffeine.
Increase your optimal nutrition levels with a multivitamin. Caffeine robs your body of necessary minerals so be sure to take a complete supplement. This may also help your fatigue in the afternoons.
Drink more water. Caffeine actually dehydrates you. Drink more water and this may eliminate the cravings for more caffeine, water will also assist in the detoxification process.

Examine your caffeine addiction. If you really need caffeine to feel like yourself, or the idea of going without it throws you into a state of anxiety, ask yourself what’s really going on. Is there something else that can fill that need? The goal is to have the power to choose what you ingest not to have it control you.