For many, a cup of coffee is essential to start the day.
This is because it is an infusion that contains caffeine, a substance that stimulates the central nervous system. However, experts say that limiting it and choosing the sources to obtain it with criteria, the benefits could be greater. Learn here what happens to the body when you reduce caffeine consumption.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is an alkaloid from the group of xanthines with a bitter taste that is found in more than 60 plants, notably coffee beans, cola nuts (used to flavor cola drinks), cocoa pods (used to make chocolates) and tea leaves.
Caffeine is included in the “GRAS” category, that is, a food recognized as safe, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the USA. This as long as it is consumed in moderation (between 200 and 300 mg daily for adults, experts believe).
It is estimated that a cup of coffee can provide up to 110 mg of caffeine and an 11 fl oz (330 ml) cola drink up to 40 mg of caffeine. The oral dose to produce the central nervous system stimulant effects is generally 100 to 250 mg in adults.
However, this will depend on each person’s sensitivity to caffeine, that is, the amount of this substance capable of producing an effect in the body.
It’s a variable, and, on average, the smaller a person is, the less caffeine it takes for them to suffer from side effects. Those who consume it regularly quickly develop less sensitivity.
In turn, the following groups are advised to avoid or limit caffeine intake:
- Pregnant or lactating women.
- People with insomnia or other sleep problems.
- People with chronic migraines.
- People with cardiovascular problems
- People with stomach problems.
- People suffering from anxiety.
Caffeine is also not advised for those taking heart or asthma medications or supplements. Also, it is common for synthetic caffeine to be found in cold medicines or pain relievers.
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While long-term caffeine consumption builds tolerance, stopping it abruptly can trigger withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- intense fatigue
- Bad mood and irritability.
- Trouble focusing.
- Flu-like symptoms.
These signs can appear 12 to 24 hours after the last time you drank caffeine, and can last up to nine days.
What happens if you give up caffeine?
It has been shown that caffeine consumption can have some health benefits, such as providing energy or helping to expel excess fluid and salts from the body due to its diuretic effects.
However, when your consumption is excessive or comes from unhealthy or unhealthy sources, such as ultra-processed products, you are more likely to suffer its consequences:
- Sleep disturbances.
- Greater release of stomach acid, increasing the risk of heartburn.
- Higher blood pressure levels.
- Increased risk of headaches, restlessness, tremors, abnormal heart rhythms, and dehydration
- Problems absorbing calcium by the body.
To moderate caffeine intake, it is necessary to read the labels of the products that we usually consume, since it is not enough to reduce the cups of coffee that we drink per day.
This is because caffeine can be found in many different foods and beverages, including teas, sodas, energy drinks, instant oatmeal, chocolates, and even decaf coffee.
Limiting caffeine intake our body can benefit in different ways:
Limiting caffeine can help you sleep better. This is because caffeine acts as an antagonist of the adenosine receptor, a chemical that accumulates in the central nervous system throughout the day, ultimately causing a feeling of sleepiness at night.
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When caffeine binds to adenosine receptors, it blocks its calming and relaxing effects, so our alertness persists. This can lead to problems sleeping properly and affect productivity during the day.
Caffeine can be a serious problem for people with diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome, as it speeds up the motility of the gastrointestinal tract. Limiting it not only makes it easier to control the symptoms of these conditions, but also prevents other common stomach problems, such as gas or bloating.
As a central nervous system stimulant, caffeine can increase brain activity and thus promote the onset of anxiety.
It can even worsen cases of pre-existing anxiety, since it causes symptoms such as headaches, irritability, palpitations, nervousness or sleep problems.
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These benefits are tied to the source of caffeine consumed. If what is limited is coffee or tea, you will probably not see results, since these infusions are not only not harmful but also have benefits against these conditions.
On the other hand, when caffeine intake comes from soft drinks, energy drinks or other ultra-processed products, limiting it can be beneficial. This is because, in addition to caffeine, ultra-processed foods have other ingredients, such as binders, preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilizers, or solvents, and little or no whole food.
Consuming them regularly in the long run can have negative consequences for cardiovascular health, increasing cholesterol levels and blood pressure, increasing the risk of diabetes, due to their alterations in blood glucose levels, and affecting body weight, due to their caloric intake. .
Until there is meaningful scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should be very careful.
Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, talk to your doctor first about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.
Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.
Sources consulted: US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, US National Library of Medicine, US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.