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Caffeine Side Effects

How the Media Gets It Wrong About Coffee

How the Media Gets It Wrong About Coffee

The Media and Uncommon Sense

I watched a short documentary about coffee the other day (17 September, 2019 https://www.bbc.com/reel/video/p07nkgsb/how-the-world-came-to-run-on-coffee ) which I thought would be in a similar line of thought as an article that I wrote a few months ago, What The Top Coffee Bean Producers Don’t Want You To Know.

Unfortunately it turned it to be a puff piece, celebrating the rise in coffee’s popularity across the world, especially in Asia. Although I have nothing against coffee itself, what struck me was the constant reinforcement of the idea that coffee fuels your brain to get things done.

Frustrated at the blatant misrepresentation of the effects that coffee has on our bodies, I decided to do my bit, however small, to redress the balance.

How the Media Gets It Wrong About Coffee
Photo by Fernando Hernandez @_ferh97 on Unsplash, Baja California, Ensenada, Mexico, flat screen television on top of desk

The Coffee and Productivity Myth

Conventional wisdom states that if you have to stay awake and be alert, few things work better than coffee.

People’s own experience with coffee seems to prove this to be the case, as an ever growing amount of people turn to coffee to get them going in the morning.

In fact many people feel that they can’t function at their peak performance levels without having their daily coffee fix. For example, it’s rare these days for me to attend a meeting where nobody is sipping a coffee.

Socially acceptable, and as the documentary shows, growing in popularity, the coffee industry’s profits are set to head for the stars.

“In terms of liquid beverage equivalents, coffee belongs among the most-drunk beverages worldwide with roughly 42.6 litres per person and year (12.6 litres of Roast Coffee and 30 litres of Instant Coffee).

Another trend is the redefinition of coffee from commodified caffeination to sensual experience which has driven premiumization.“

Statista – Coffee, Worldwide

The big coffee companies are trying to increase the demand for their products with the aim of boosting their incomes and profits. What’s often overlooked and even dismissed by some is the effect of coffee on the health of consumers.

The Cost to Your Health

For adults, coffee is the most consumed caffeinated beverage. A lot of people see coffee as the go to pick me up without giving a second thought to what it might be doing to their bodily system.

The FDA recommends a daily intake of two to three cups of coffee per day, but many have at least four cups or more.

The long term habitual consumption of coffee can have detrimental effects to your health.

Some of the more common side effects of too much coffee include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sleeping issues
  • Anxiousness
  • Depression

Redressing the Balance

To avoid the risks associated with long term coffee consumption reduce the amount of caffeine that you consume per day.

Also:

  • Take the time to observe your daily habits.
    For example write down the times of day that you find yourself craving a coffee as well as where, with whom and what you were doing. If your aim is to reduce the amount of coffee you drink, choose a time that you regularly have a cup and replace the coffee with a glass of water or other beverage (as long as it doesn’t contain caffeine).
  • Eat healthy.
    Just eating healthy alone will not boost your energy; that comes from taking more informed lifestyle choices. That said, cutting down on the amount of sugar you eat, eating more wholegrain or wholemeal starchy carbohydrates (which will give you a slower more sustained release of energy), and getting enough iron (from eating beans, nuts, liver, dried fruit and dark green leafy vegetables), can go some way to helping you feel more energised over time.
  • Get enough sleep.
    As stated earlier, drinking coffee doesn’t boost your energy, it blocks your brains adenosine receptors, tricking your body into thinking that it is not tired. By reducing (or eliminating) coffee and caffeine from your diet, you can get back in line with your body’s circadian rhythm and optimise your sleep, which in turn will make you feel less tired during your waking hours.
  • Exercise more.
    Exercise has been proven to boost your mind’s focus and concentration, as well as increasing your fitness levels. What is sometimes missed is that it also helps you have better, deeper sleep sessions. And as an extra benefit the quality of your sleep is increased immediately.

Media Influence

Media corporations put out a lot of information everyday on many topics from across the world.

It is difficult to get points across without having to resort to cultural shortcuts to get a point of view across. As a result, sometimes, unwittingly these corporations can overlook the implications of what they broadcast.

Which is why informed individuals should speak up when they notice something that may mislead or confuse.

Conclusion

Reading this, the chances are that you already know what has been stated in this post and I thank you for your time.

If there is anyone you feel would benefit from this article please share.

Categories
Caffeine Caffeine Alternative Productivity Side Effects Sleep

Caffeine-Free Productivity?

Caffeine-Free Productivity?

Yeah, right!

Sometimes when I’m in a work or semi social environment and I say “Thanks, but no thanks” to coffee, an inquisitive soul asks what’s wrong with coffee. 

I usually say nothing much, but sometimes I tell them about coffee and caffeine’s affects on the body and mind, whilst reassuring them that moderate consumption is ok.

Most leave it at that, but there are still the few that say something like “I don’t know how you function without it?”

From now on I’ll point them to this article.

Working man behind a mug
Photo by Javier Molina @javier1997mo on Unsplash Working man behind a mug

Caffeine For Productivity

Caffeine can work wonders when you settle down to work through a task, helping you to get the job done.

Feeling a bit groggy? Can’t think straight? Struggling to stay awake? Then have a cup of mud and you’re good to go; but are you really?

1,3,7 trimethylxanthine, or caffeine is a member of the methylated xanthines chemical family, which are toxic to the human body. In low doses they do little harm, but people have died taking higher doses.

Fake Energy

The energy you have available to you at any given time is the energy you have available. It is common for people to believe that coffee and caffeine gives them energy, but not think about where that energy comes from.

Adenosine is a brain chemical that is widely known for causing drowsiness. It is produced in our brains as a by-product of ATP, the source of energy for all cells in the body.

As we go through the day, adenosine levels in the brain build up latching onto adenosine receptors within our neurons which then produce a concoction of proteins that suppress nerve cell activity and make us feel sleepy.

Caffeine does it’s magic by binding to the adenosine receptors in our brains without stimulating the release of the chemicals that suppress neuron activity, masking the fact that we are tired.

Scientists suggest that a little caffeine is not harmful, but too much can have negative side effects such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations

“In fact, over a three-year period, the Illinois Poison Center in Chicago counted more than 250 cases of medical complications that involved caffeine, 12% of which ended in hospitalization. The average age of the patients was 21, suggesting that young people are particularly prone to overindulging in caffeine. So be careful not to overdo it!”

Kristin Harper, So Tired in the Morning… The Science of Sleep, December 2014/January 2015, American Chemical Society

Real Productivity Hacks

Now to answer the, “how do you function without it?” part.

It depends. I personally have found that the many lifestyle changes that I’ve made over the years have helped tremendously. If your situation is due to an illness or deficiency seek qualified medical assistance.

As everyone is different I have listed the more general things that have worked for me, but the key here is to realize that there is no one cure for fatigue or tiredness and that you will have to find what combination works best for you.

  • Get more in tune with your body’s circadian rhythm, or body clock, and go to bed between 9pm and 10pm daily. Your body starts releasing melatonin around 9pm and if you are in bed around this time your deepest sleep should occur naturally around 2am.
  • Do more daily exercise.
    It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous and could be an extra 25 to 30 minute walk every day. Exercise helps you to achieve deeper sleep, and the effects on your energy are almost immediate.
  • Take short breaks when working before you start to feel tired.
    Most people don’t realize how tired they are until their productivity starts to fall off. V-CAF is an Apple Watch app that subtly notifies you when you are tired so that you can take the necessary measures to get back on track.
  • Avoid caffeine and drink lots of water.
    The most direct of all the tips listed here. As I’ve outlined, caffeine hides your tiredness from you. Tiredness is natural and by knowing when you are tired you can take measures to take back control of your life. 

Review

So that’s how I do it. By reducing my caffeine intake (I still eat chocolate from time to time), and being more active, as well as going to bed at a set time most days, I’m actually doing better than when I was drinking coffee to get through the day.

Here are the takeaways:

  • Listen to your body clock. Get to bed between 9pm and 10pm.
  • Go for more long walks (25 to 30 minutes every day should help).
  • Give yourself micro breaks when working and feeling tired (use V-CAF to notify you when you are tired).
  • Reduce, or even better, cut out caffeine from your diet.

Final Thoughts

It is possible to be very productive without the use of caffeine. 

Most people find it hard to believe, but it is possible. Maybe their caffeine dependency is clouding their perception of reality and they don’t realize it yet.

Why not try giving up caffeine for a while? What have you got to loose?

Categories
Caffeine Side Effects Sleepiness Staying Awake Tiredness

Would You Pay For Worse Sleep?

Would You Pay For Worse Sleep?

A good night’s sleep is priceless

We humans like the effects that caffeine has on us. It is one of the worlds most consumed stimulants and can be found in a variety of food, drink, and medical supplements.

However, there is a growing body of evidence that points to caffeine being responsible for interfering with our sleep and may be responsible for daytime sleepiness. 

Customer experience
Photo by Toa Heftiba @heftiba on Unsplash Customer experience, Camber Coffee, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

I’m Tired, Where’s The Coffee

It’s common for us to associate coffee and caffeine with alertness. So much so that we have hundreds of coffee phrases such as “Once you wake up and smell the coffee, it’s hard to go back to sleep” and  “I don’t have a problem with caffeine. I have a problem without it.”

For many people a coffee first thing in the morning helps wake them up and sets them straight for the day, but by the time they get to work they need another, then another.

What most don’t realize is that it might be the caffeine that is making them feel tired in the first place!

Increased Tiredness

Various population-based studies suggest that ingesting more than the recommended daily limit for caffeine can be linked to daytime sleepiness. 
Ohayon MM, Malijai C, Pierre P. Guilleminault C, Priest RG. How sleep and mental disorders are related to complaints of daytime sleepiness. Arch Intern Med 1997;157(22):2645-52.

A Sleep Habits and Caffeine Use study of workers for the French National Gas and Electricity Company found a link between an increase of consumption of caffeine and the decrease of time spent in bed. The association suggests that caffeine is shortening sleep.
Sanchez-Ortuno M, Moore N, Taillard J, Valtat C, Leger D, Bioulac B, et al. Sleep duration and caffeine consumption in a French middle-aged working population. Sleep Med 2005;6:247-51.

Daily moderate to low usage of caffeine can interfere with your sleep and contribute to some people’s insomnia complaints; but stopping caffeine consumption can cause people to experience excessive sleepiness.

Decrease Tiredness

If you don’t consume a lot of caffeine then cycling your caffeine intake will keep you balanced without affecting your energy too much. That is, enjoy your caffeine product as usual but take a couple of days a week where you don’t have any. 

If you do consume a lot of caffeine then it may be best to gradually wean yourself off over several weeks. If you suffer from withdrawal, use the following:

  • Keep yourself occupied.
    By keeping busy you will have less time to think about your cravings.
  • Exercise.
    It helps lift your mood and helps you to have better quality sleep.
  • Have a sleep routine.
    Choose a time to go to bed and to wake up and stick to it. Be mindful of falling asleep during the day, and use a tiredness monitor like V-CAF. V-CAF will notify you when you are most likely to fall asleep, helping you to stay awake during the day.
  • Eat nutrient rich foods and drink plenty of water.
    Fuelling your body with the right foods and drinking water helps raise your energy over time.

Review

Over reliance on caffeine is causing us to deplete our energy levels. Reducing our caffeine intake or cutting it out completely can help reverse this trend but may initially make us feel even more tired.

Withdrawal tips:

  • Keep busy
  • Exercise
  • Stick to your sleep routine. 
  • Use a tiredness monitor, like V-CAF to keep you awake during the day.
  • Eat whole foods and drink plenty of water.

Conclusion

Your body deserves the best treatment that you can provide. Using caffeine ultimately takes from you and gives very little back.

Spend your time and energy on the things that will help enhance your life, not on things that cost you money and give you suffering.

Start giving back by following the advise in this post and making the right lifestyle changes.

You deserve it.

Categories
Caffeine Staying Awake

Changing Your Lifestyle to Stay Awake

Lifestyle & Staying Awake

Your choices matter

In the age of the Internet we have grown accustomed to quick fixes and instant gratification. Information on almost anything is just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks away.

The pervasiveness of this expectation has permeated into our natural world, where we now believe that there is a product or gadget that can fix almost anything quickly without too much effort.

To stay and be more awake is the result of lifestyle choices that we make. This article will highlight some of those choices.  

pensive
Photo by charlotte henard @punttim on Flickr pensive

Tiredness Quick Fixes

During the course of a day, when tired many people reach for a coffee, an energy drink or caffeine pills.

The need for immediate alertness overrides any concerns about the long time effects of that choice.

The quick fix then becomes reinforced as the response to tiredness further entrenching it as the default behavior.

The Problem With Quick Fixes

Although they have their place, using quick fixes as the default response to tiredness robs us of an opportunity to learn about the relationship we have with our own body.

The more you consume caffeine the greater your tolerance becomes, which in turn encourages you to increases the amount you consume.

Between 200-250mg per day is considered safe (depending on age, sex and health). Anything above 400mg (approx. 4 cups of coffee) increases your chances of being exposed to caffeine’s side effects, including and not limited to:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions

Lifestyle Choices

To have more control over your tiredness you will need to make the choice to invest the time to learn about yourself.

Below are some ideas to get you thinking.

  • Are you drinking enough water?
    Drink a lot of water daily, before you start feeling tired.
  • How much processed food are you eating?
    Our brains use 1/5 of our total daily energy needs. Stimulants trick our brains into reacting as if they are not tired. After the effects wear off, we crash. To avoid that, fuel your brain by eating whole foods, especially those with complex long-chain carbohydrates (nuts, fish, avocado etc.), as they release energy steadily.
  • Do you know when you are tired?
    When we are tired our brains do not react as accurately and efficiently as they do when we are fully awake, and clouds our judgment about how tired we really are. Use an Apple Watch app such as V-CAF, which alerts you when you are most likely to be tired. 
  • How much quality sleep are you getting?
    Quality is better than quantity with sleep. Make sure you get enough sleep and track how you feel after you’ve slept. Apps such as Pillow give you information on your sleep quality and gives you tips on how to improve.

Review

Choosing to live a healthier lifestyle has many benefits, some of which are improved energy and less tiredness.

By choosing to deal with your tiredness rather than taking a quick fix pays dividends in the long run.

Key Points

  • Drink more water
  • Eat more whole foods and Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Learn when you are most likely to be tired using apps such as V-CAF
  • Get quality sleep rather than just hours

Make a Choice

If you’ve made it this far I think it’s fair to say that you are already making the choice to find out more about how you can deal with tiredness by changing your lifestyle.

Hang on in there, it can be tough; but with perseverance I’m sure you’ll make the change that you want.

Categories
Caffeine Side Effects

What Coffee Bean Producers Wont Tell You

What The Top Coffee Bean Producers Don’t Want You To Know

What you don’t know can’t hurt you…

I enjoy drinking coffee. I like the taste and it’s become a valuable tool that I use to help me focus and stay alert.

What I failed to take into consideration was that like all stimulants, there is a danger in the amounts that you consume.

No big deal, I only drink a couple of cups a day! Unfortunately caffeine is finding its way into more of the foods and drinks that we consume daily. 

What annoyed me was the lack of info regarding the cumulative effects of coffee and caffeine consumption; so I decided to write this article to help fill that void.

Fresh Coffee Beans
Photo by Alex@worthyofelegance on Unsplash

The Rising Consumption of Caffeine

Back in June 1 2013, the Washington Post published an article by Brady Dennis that brought attention to the rising amount of food and beverages that contained caffeine.
Slew of caffeinated food products has FDA jittery

Since then there are even more products on the market that contain caffeine.

  • Chocolates
  • Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurts
  • Puddings
  • Breakfast Cereals
  • Headache Pills
  • Various Medications
  • And surprisingly to me Decaffeinated Coffee (although at a reduced level – 12mg compared to 84mg in regular coffee)

I speculate that the increased use of caffeine in products that we ingest is not so much for the health benefits, but rather for its addictive traits (like sugar).

The Effects of Increased Caffeine Consumption on Your Health

There are plenty of articles on the web that suggest that going over 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day can be bad for you over time.

What are not highlighted are the cumulative effects of all the caffeine you can ingest in one day over a period of time.

Thankfully there are many research papers that find both the pros and cons for increasing your caffeine intake.

For example there was a study by G. Webster Ross, MD; Robert D. Abbott, PhD; Helen Petrovitch, MD; et al found that increasing the caffeine consumption of Japanese-American men between the ages of 45 and 68, reduced the risk of developing Parkinson disease.
Association of Coffee and Caffeine Intake With the Risk of Parkinson Disease

And here are some of the cons:

So what can we do to reduce our exposure to caffeine?

Caffeine Control Strategies

Moderation is key. To reduce our exposure to caffeine we first must take the decision to actively watch for how much we consume.

Here are some strategies that I’ve found helpful:

  • Read what’s on the label
    Although the amount of caffeine may not be on the label, if you want to reduce your consumption of caffeine err on the side of caution
  • Use alternatives
    Feeling tired; need to stay awake? Reach for an alternative to coffee (and not decaf)! Water; fruit juices; moving around; using an alarm like V-CAF that warns you when you’re feeling tired; over time these tools can help you naturally increase your energy and reduce your dependency on caffeine products
  • Become more informed about caffeine and your own body.
    By knowing the pros and cons of anything you take control over your own choices rather than defaulting to an industry’s standard for your life!

Review

These days, caffeine intoxication and addiction are real threats. The increased use of caffeine in our foods and drinks masks that we are increasing our tolerance to the stimulating effects of this psychoactive substance.

Use these strategies to help take back control:

  • Find out what you are consuming by reading the label
  • Use non intrusive alternatives such as apps like V-CAF
  • Become more informed 

Take Back Control

I decided to take back control in this area of my life and started a quest to find out more.

I’m still on that quest and hope that you also start your own. Together our collective individual actions can affect change for the better.