Cutting down on caffeine – why it’s a good idea

Studies suggest the price of your cappuccino will rise by 30% this year and that the coffee bean could disappear from our planet altogether by 2080. But before we start to panic, Nikki explains why it’s not such a bad thing to cutback on caffeine.

Coffee lovers everywhere be warned: a warming planet could make 99.7% of bean-growing regions too hot to support the crop. This will mean that in around 65 years time a cup of coffee will be a thing of the past.

I can hear the intake of breath.

How will we cope without our morning fix? What will we do for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up?

Well I’ve got news for you: coffee is not all it’s cracked up to be.

New Year’s resolutions

There is a big push for people to give up booze for January but actually your latte, expresso or filter can do you as much harm to your health as your wine, beer or liquor.

Like alcohol, regularly consuming more than the safe daily limit of caffeine (between 200 and 400 mg) is bad for us.

Yes, it may stimulate the tastebuds and keep us alert, but it can make your skin look older, cause cellulite, give you bad breath and pile on the pounds.

So my advice would be to seriously cutback the amount of coffee you drink – if not quit drinking it altogether.

To help you I have put together some top tips for tackling withdrawal and put together a list of alternatives you could enjoy instead.

The caffeine curse

Let’s first take a look at what coffee drinking does for us:

It makes you stressed. The caffeine in coffee increases catecholamines, your stress hormones. The stress response elicits cortisol and increases insulin. Insulin increases inflammation, and this makes you feel lousy.

It makes you look older. Drinking a lot of coffee can cause prematurely older-looking skin. Skin needs lots of water to look plump and glowing but coffee is a diuretic, encouraging your body to flush out water. If you drink too much coffee, your skin will look dehydrated.

It exacerbates cellulite. Caffeine is an ingredient in some skin creams – but sadly that doesn’t mean drinking it will have the same positive effect. When you drink coffee you can suffer more from dehydration that causes skin to become congested and hardened which leads to cellulite.

It gives you smelly breath. Like alcohol, coffee dehydrates your mouth so there is less saliva to rinse and clean it. If your coffee has milk in it, the problem is even greater. In a dehydrated mouth, the milky residue ferments and rots, giving off a horrible smell.

It gives you stained teeth. Just as heavy smokers are left with yellow residue on their teeth, so too are coffee drinkers. Coffee contains tannins – plant compounds that give these drinks their flavour – and acids. Over time, these break down the enamel on teeth’s surface. Then the tannins penetrate the surface and stick to the enamel.

It makes your hair thin. This is because caffeine has been found to flush vital minerals, including iron needed for healthy hair growth, out of the body.

It makes you sleepy. Yes, it’s true. Drinking lots of coffee can affect people’s sleep, which means they are more tired during the day. They counter-balance this by drinking more coffee but the energy boost they get is short-lived.

It gives you tummy ache. The acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion and heartburn.

It makes it harder to conceive. If you are thinking of having a baby, avoid coffee. Studies have shown caffeine stops the muscles in the fallopian tubes in the ovaries from contracting. These rhythmic contractions waft the egg from the ovaries to the womb to be met by sperm. Instead, the egg gets stuck.

It makes you fatter. It’s known that drinking too much booze can make you pile on the pounds. But your coffee habit may also be to blame. Next time you are in a high street coffee shop ask them how many calories are in a cup. You will find that the average drink is in excess of 250 calories – that’s more than a 250ml glass of white wine at 185 calories. We are also more prone to buy a carbohydrate treat to have with our coffee, such as a muffin. Coffee’s effect on blood sugar makes those goodies even more fattening. This is because caffeine interferes with insulin levels, which control how much fat our body stores.


Kick the habit

Addiction is a huge problem for coffee drinkers. They have come to rely on it as a source of energy.

Ask any coffee drinker about how it feels to withdraw from coffee, and you will mistake their story for that of a drug addict’s.

So how can you avoid withdrawal symptoms?

Well those who consume the most caffeine, alcohol and sugar, and those who have the highest toxic load, tend to have the most difficulty initially.

But it’s important to remember that symptoms of withdrawal usually disappear after three or four days and that you should slowly reduce your intake of caffeine to make the process less painful.

You should also:

  • Drink at least six to eight glasses of filtered water daily.
  • Allow more time for sleep.
  • Take a vitamin C supplement with breakfast.
  • Exercise daily to help fight off fatigue.
  • Eat when you are hungry so you do not let your blood sugar get low.
  • Practice relaxation techniques.
  • Keep a journal and track your symptoms.

Healthy coffee alternatives

Here are some of my favourite drinks to replace your coffee:

Teeccino caffeine-free herbal coffee

This coffee alternative is popular among those who have removed regular coffee from their diets because it tastes very similar to coffee but is caffeine free. A mix of carob, barley, chicory nuts and other flavors it can be brewed like coffee and mixes nicely with milk, soy milk or just plain honey.

Yerbe Mate

If you’re not necessarily seeking a coffee taste, this herbal tea with numerous health benefits is a great choice. Not only does Yerbe Mate taste great hot or cold but it has powerful antioxidant properties, and it can also accelerate weight loss as it revs up the metabolism.

Green tea

Green tea has less caffeine than a cup of coffee but enough to give you a boost without any of the coffee jitters. It’s also packed with catechins, which are powerful antioxidants and potent disease fighters.

Wheatgrass juice

This natural energizer is known as a liquid shot of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

Rooibos tea

Rooibos is another full-flavored tea that can be mixed with any kind of milk and has plenty of flavour all on its own as well. It’s a refreshing pick me up and some health experts say it has immune-boosting properties.

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