On the scale of addictive substances, coffee ranks pretty low. Nobody’s going to send you to rehab because you’re haunting your local Costa. But coffee is still mind-altering and mood-altering. And, let’s be honest, anyone who gets caffeine-withdrawal headaches should probably be drinking less of it. If you’re thinking about reducing your coffee intake, here’s what you can expect.
We all know the caffeine/sleep link. It’s why we have morning coffees in the first place. Briefly, less caffeine = better sleep (and that’s a good thing!). Next!
Anxiety is a modern epidemic…and our obsession with coffee may be making things worse. Caffeine wakes you up by giving your ‘fight or flight’ response a prod. That’s great if you’re struggling to get motivated in the morning. Sometimes we need a jolt to spur us into action. But people with anxiety tend to already have overactive fight/flight responses. If you want to be calmer and less stressed, cut the caffeine and work on more natural ways to boost your energy levels [LINK TO NATURAL ENERGY BOOST ARTICLE]
Better nutrient absorption
Coffee (and tea, for that matter) is full of tannins. Tannins bond to certain compounds in your digestive system and speed them through to the loo (more on that in a bit…). This makes them fab for getting rid of nasty things like free radicals…but they don’t exactly discriminate in their waste disposal process. They also like to drag healthy nutrients like calcium, vitamin B, and iron along for the ride.Ironically, calcium, vit B and iron deficiencies will all make you tired and sluggish, which makes you drink more coffee, which makes the deficiencies worse…and so on, round and round. Cut the tannins and your body will thank you.
Coffee breath is a horrible thing, but coffee teeth are even worse. Coffee is acidic, which means that it will erode the enamel on your teeth over time. Adding sugar and dairy products to your coffee make this effect worse. Plus, coffee is more prone to permanently staining teeth than pretty much anything else. On the other hand, caffeine is thought to attack the bacteria which cause plaque…so, swings and roundabouts?
More balanced hormones
Caffeine interacts with oestrogen in some very weird ways. We don’t (yet) quite understand what’s going on with the caffeine/oestrogen link, but something’s definitely up. Caffeine tends to make the symptoms of PMS and menopause worse, and it’s also thought to disrupt fertility for women trying to conceive. This may have something to do with the fight/flight response thing we mentioned above (caffeine could possibly be artificially simulating stress, which messes with oestrogen in a number of ways). What we do know is that caffeine and oestrogen have a problematic relationship, so if your hormones are prone to misbehaving, cutting the caffeine could improve things for you.
Lower blood pressure
Caffeine = anxiety = stress = high blood pressure. Basically, many of the benefits of reducing stress also apply to reducing caffeine. For some other helpful tips on check out our article on How To Destress.
Remember those tannins, racing through you to the loo with their cargo of vitamins and minerals? Caffeine likes to help them along. We’ve all felt that ominous watery sensation in our guts after a coffee binge. Caffeine is both a laxative and a bowel stimulant, which goes a long way to explaining why office loos are a lot busier first thing in the morning (seriously, it’s true! There are studies on itand everything!). Give your guts a break and cut down on coffee.