I love my coffee. No sweetener, just a little milk, so I can really taste and savor the flavor of the beans. Yummy! I do not want to cut all caffeine from my diet, and I certainly do not want to give up my coffee. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that too much caffeine is not good for us. And for some people who are particularly sensitive to it, caffeine is a no-no, even in low doses. Below are the top ten caffeine related health problems, as explained by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and adapted from Caffeine Blues by Stephen Cherniske.
1. Cardiovascular Problems
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Caffeine increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure, and can contribute to the development of heart disease. Both decaf and regular coffee increase your cholesterol and homocysteine, the biochemical that science has linked to increased risk for heart attack. Caffeine is also linked to coronary vasospasms, the cause for 20% of all fatal heart attacks which kill otherwise perfectly healthy people.
Caffeine stimulates the excretion of stress hormones, which can produce increased levels of anxiety, irritability, muscular tension and pain, indigestion, insomnia, and decreased immunity. Increased levels of stress can keep you from making healthy responses to normal daily stress.
3. Emotional Disturbances
Anxiety and irritability are hallmark mood disturbances associated with caffeine consumption, but equally important is depression and attention disorders. Depression may occur as part of the let down after the stimulant effects of caffeine wear off. It may also appear during the recovery period after quitting caffeine while the brain’s chemistry is readjusted. Caffeine, rather than increasing mental activity, actually decreases blood flow to the brain by as much as 30% and negatively effects memory and mental performance.
4. Blood Sugar Swings
Diabetics and hypoglycemics should avoid caffeine. Caffeine stimulates a temporary surge in blood sugar followed by an overproduction of insulin causing a blood sugar crash within hours. This rollercoaster causes weight gain since insulin’s message to the body is to store excess sugar as fat.
5. Gastrointestinal Problems
Many people experience a burning sensation in their stomach after drinking coffee because coffee increases the secretion of hydrochloric acid leading to an increased risk for ulcers. Coffee, including decaf, reduces pressure on the valve between the esophagus and the stomach so that the highly acidic contents of the stomach pass up to the esophagus leading to heartburn and gastro-esophageal reflux disease. No wonder the best selling over-the-counter drugs are the so-called antacids.
6. Nutritional Deficiencies
Caffeine inhibits the absorption of some nutrients and causes the urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and trace minerals, and all essential elements necessary for good health.
7. Male Health Problems
Milton Krisiloff, M.D. has found that in the majority of cases, men can significantly reduce their risk for urinary and prostate problems by making dietary changes, which include eliminating coffee and caffeine.
8. Female Health Problems
Fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, osteoporosis, infertility problems, miscarriage, low birth weight infants, and menopausal problems such as hot flashes are all exacerbated by caffeine consumption. Women on birth control pills are particularly at risk since they have a decreased ability to detoxify caffeine.
Many people find in there forties that they can no longer tolerate the same level of caffeine consumption as they could in there 20’s and 30’s. Production of DHEA, melatonin, and other vital hormones decline and caffeine speeds up that downhill drop. Caffeine dehydrates the body and contributes to aging of skin and kidneys. It has been shown to inhibit DNA repair and slow the ability of the liver to detoxify foreign toxins.
10. Adrenal Exhaustion
Caffeine consumption leads to eventual adrenal exhaustion, which can leave you vulnerable to a variety of health disorders related to inflammation, autoimmunity, and fatigue.
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