Caffeine in one form or another has been consumed worldwide for thousands of years. But what can it do to your body if you consistently have copious amounts through the day? Let’s take a look at the various conditions caused by excess caffeine.
Are you the kind of person that needs a hit of caffeine when you get up, or maybe two cups of coffee for instance before you leave the house? After you have finished them right to the bottom, do you tend to get acid indigestion? Do you ever feel jittery or shaky if you don’t top up your caffeine level?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any or all of these questions, you need to seriously consider your consumption. Here are some of the side effects of caffeine if you indulge too much.
Whilst jitters can be caused by nervousness, lack of sleep and/or caffeine, these are indiscernibly linked together. If you drink too much caffeine, you are likely to have a restless sleep, which may cause an agitated feeling in the mornings, or after a long nap. Coffee (and to a much more minimal extent, tea) is easily absorbed into the bloodstream, and if you take sugar or sweeteners in your drink, this will only increase the sensation. Excesses of caffeine on a consistent basis may lead to other problems, including those associated with your circulatory system.
A person drinking normal amounts of caffeine would be able to discern any feelings of anxiety, depression etc., as it will not be caused by the intake. However, drink too much of the glorious stuff, and a world of mental illness could open up, without you realising why. Whilst initially there is a high, it will decrease sufficiently for you to have feelings of nervousness etc. This is because caffeine affects bodily chemicals and cause these reactions. When caffeine attacks your central nervous system, several mental problems can occur, including confusion, irritability, anxiousness, depression and other related symptoms.
Caffeine is a natural psychoactive product, and it occurs in many different beverages and foodstuffs, but most of all brewed coffee. Have a look at the following table to see what is contained in the average 8oz/227mls cup/glass or can. In the case of soda, only figures available were for 12oz/340ml.
Coffee - 95 – 200mg
Energy/Sports drink - 70 – 100mg
Fizzy drink/soda - 35 – 45mg
Tea - 14 – 60mg
Please note medical professionals state that 400mg of caffeine per day should be safe for the average HEALTHY adult. By healthy, we mean no ongoing stomach complaints or nervous disorders. Consult your doctor if you are experiencing these problems.
In terms of insomnia or sleeplessness, too much caffeine in any form affects what is known as ‘restorative sleep’, i.e the best sleep to have to recharge your batteries. Whilst people drink caffeine believing that it will keep them awake, it does do that, but, the effects of it will show as time progresses. You can sometimes suffer agitation, jitters etc for up to 8 hours, depending how much you consume, causing restlessness.
Try to only consume coffee with food, or at least water it down with milk, and preferably not after 7pm.
Irregularities of the heart
Rapid heartbeat not caused by exertion? Caffeine is a stimulant, so if you experience rapid beating or altered rhythm (atrial fibrillation), you could be consuming too much caffeine. Decrease the amount you drink and/or consult your doctor.
Not all people experience incidences of rapid heartbeat, some people do not react this way at all, but it’s best to advise on it so you can look out for any irregularities.
You could experience periods of high blood pressure (hypertension) due to an adrenaline rush caused by caffeine. If you already have high blood pressure, ask your doctor if it is safe to have caffeine in your diet.
Breathing problems may occur when caffeine reaches excess in your body. If this continues, it could result in convulsions. Again, this can be prevented by lowering your intake.
Caffeine can easily cause acid reflux or acid indigestion. If you already have issues in your digestive system, such as ulcers, you need advice from your doctor that it is safe to drink or eat caffeine-based products. Furthermore, it is both a laxative and a diuretic, meaning your bowels may be affected by increased bowel movement, often loose, and also an increase in urination. In the bowel, this is mainly due to muscle contractions that are forcing the food out faster and is known as ‘peristalsis’. As caffeine is processed by the liver and passes out via your kidneys as urine, it may cause you to urinate more.
Preference is given to actually calling caffeine addiction as a ‘dependency’ rather than the former. It does not take the same form as alcohol addiction or addiction to drugs, for some reason. High intake of caffeine can easily cause dependency, as the ‘crashing down’ or withdrawal symptoms can be quite debilitating. The dependency can kick start many of the problems listed above.
Other potential problems
Medical professionals have also reported incidences of the following:
- Problems with pregnancies, caused by passing on some of the effects of caffeine via the placenta to the unborn child. When a baby is born, this procedure in the womb may cause them to experience things like twitching limbs, irritability, sleeplessness (difficult to discern with a baby!), rapid heartbeat. If you are breastfeeding and still having too much caffeine, a baby will probably want to drink more of your milk than normal.
- Onset of thinning of the bones, caused by caffeine restricting the amount of calcium you process in the body
- Headaches that last a while
Fortunately, decreasing your intake can solve most the problems. Our Ultimate Health can highlight an extensive range of foods, beverages and environmental situations that may be affecting you – find out what it is, and take steps to improve your physical and mental health without delay.