Do you roll out of bed and go straight for the coffee? Find it hard to stay awake studying without caffeine? Do you find it hard to start the day without a cup of coffee? Caffeine is one of the world's most widely used drugs, and has been around for centuries. Caffeine is a common ingredient in beverages such as coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks and cocoa. Caffeine is even found in some pain relievers. Many Americans start their day with a cup of coffee and may end their day with a cup after dinner. Coffee shops have become popular gathering places in recent years. But did you know that caffeine can be harmful to the individual? Not only is caffeine a substance your body doesn't need, it also actively works against the body's normal, healthy functioning.

It is possible to get severe health problems. Caffeine affects the central nervous system (the brain and nerves), the heart and circulation, the lungs, the intestinal system, the muscles, the kidneys and urinary tract, and the reproductive system. Caffeine has a stimulating effect on the brain and nerves, the heart and circulatory system, the stomach and intestines. Although caffeine helps people feel more alert, too much of it can cause nervousness, anxiety and irritability. Anne Kelvik, a pharmacist at the Addiction Research Foundation, says "With excessive caffeine use, people can get serious insomnia, restlessness, and excitement. With more caffeine, symptoms can progress to vomiting, convulsions, and abnormal blood pressure." Too much caffeine can lead to headaches, insomnia, stomach irritation and irregular heart rate. Mild sensory disturbances such as ringing in the ears and flashes of light have been reported at higher doses. With doses exceeding 10g of caffeine, grand mal seizures and respiratory failure can result in death. This disorder has been called Caffeinism. Colas with caffeine and sugar added cause the greatest calcium and bone loss. 

The wake-up call of a morning cup of tea becomes tossing and turning if you drink two cups of tea before going to bed. It can also interfere with a persons ability to sleep. Caffeine can also have some serious side effects. It is known to raise blood pressure. High doses of caffeine can increase the heart rate (the number of heartbeats per minute). People with high blood pressure or heart conditions are told by doctors to eliminate caffeine from their diet. Caffeine also causes a flushed face, dieresis, disturbances in stomach and intestines, muscle twitching, rambling flow of thought and speech, periods of inexhaustibility and disturbances in muscular activity. For women, too much caffeine has been linked to infertility. Pregnant women have an increased chance of miscarrying during pregnancy. In 1980, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised pregnant women to limit their intake of caffeine or avoid it altogether. Some studies have also shown a link between drinking coffee and an increased risk of cancer. A cup of coffee contains between 90 and 120 mg of caffeine. A cup of tea yields 40 to 100 mg. Cocoa or cola drinks 20 to 50 mg. Most caffeine containing prescriptions and over-the-counter medications are one-third to one-half the strength of a cup of coffee.

The Addiction Research Foundation says people can become dependent on caffeine. Caffeine is addicting but the key to reducing dependence on it is avoiding it or reducing the amount you take in. You can either reduce intake suddenly or gradually. Its better to decrease your intake slowly, because going too quickly can result in caffeine withdrawal headaches. As explained in the New England Journal of Medicine, people experienced moderate to severe headaches when they abruptly stopped consuming caffeine. So it is better to stop caffeine gradually then suddenly. In order to avoid caffeine, you should either have to avoid all of these products or choose decaffeinated or caffeine-free versions of them. Decaffenation is the process of removing caffeine from products that contain it. Decaffenation removes about 97% of the caffeine. You can start by first determining your pattern of caffeine use then gradually slowing down the usage. Slowly drink fewer caffeinated beverages. Try half regular coffee and half decaf, brew tea for less time, drink water instead of colas or coffee, and check for soft drinks without added caffeine. There are other alternatives such as herbal teas, and some soft drinks such as seltzer, fruit-flavored soft drinks, or ginger ale, which have never contained caffeine. You can also cut back on the amount of coffee you drink. Replace caffeinated coffee with decaffeinated. You might also try using a flavored decaffeinated coffee- such as hazelnut, cinnamon, or vanilla- or switching to a darker roast of coffee. 

Reducing caffeine intake will prevent certain health problems. And plus, you shouldn't be eating or drinking things that are not good for you. It will only harm you in the end. If the world keeps drinking caffeinated things, they will have more disorders and illnesses. If we stay away from such things, we won't have as many problems. 

It's time to make some lifestyle changes. Although you might have no problems with caffeine, it is still bad for you. We should stay away from caffeine as much as possible. The best way to make sure something doesn't contain caffeine is to look for the words "caffeine-free" on the label. And if you are still finding it hard to stay awake without coffee, why don't we wash our faces more frequently, or how about a cold shower? Eat regular meals, exercise, change your sleeping patterns; but stay away from caffeine. I encourage you to avoid caffeine as much as possible by considering your own health. It is worth it to be rid of caffeine once and for all.


More by :  Anjali Gupta

Top | Health

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