Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
POPULARITY OF CAFFEINE
Coffee is a very popular beverage, the second most frequently consumed after water. Likewise, black and green tea (also high in caffeine) are fundamental parts of the diet of Asian countries and the U.K. and are becoming progressively more popular in Western countries. Coffee is a £1 billion market in the UK alone, with 55 million cups consumed each day in the UK, and, that’s why there is so much talking about it.
SOURCES OF CAFFEINE
Caffeine is a strong alkaloid occurring naturally in many plant species. The most commonly known are coffee beans, kola nuts, tea leaves, cocoa beans, guarana berries, and yerba maté.
Caffeine is added to many popular beveriges and foods, and it is also included as a component of various prescription drugs as well as over-the-counter medicines including cold/flu remedies, analgesics, or diet-aids or nutritional supplements.
EFFECTS OF CAFFEINE
The pleasure derived from the consumption of coffee, tea, caffainated beverages, and chocolate is accompanied by a whole range of effects on the brain, which may explain their attractiveness and side effects. Once caffeine floods the bloodstream, it goes to the liver where some of it is metabolised into by-products, theobromine and paraxatine. Caffeine als passes the blood-brain barrier and blocks the action of adenosine which is to dampen down the brain activity, thus encouraging us to rest or sleep. But since caffeine doesn’t allow adenosine to do its job the result is increased wakefulness and alertness. This stimulating ffect is the result of ingesting a single 100mg cup of coffee and may last for 3-5 hours.
In addition, like stress, caffeine also increases adrenaline (stress hormone), thus increasing heartbit as well as muscular and metabolic performance. Paraxantine (previously mentioned by-product) breaks down fats for energy thus sparing sugar stored in muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. This is why caffeine was and still is popular among athletes and individuals envolved in endurance exercise.
HOW CAFFEINE PREVENTS DDROWSINESS
Caffeine does not stimulate your brain and increase allertness by itself. In your brain, caffeine mimics a neurochemical called adenosine which regulates our cycles of sleeping and waking. Adenosine causes drowsiness by attaching to cells in the brain inhibiting their activity telling us it is time to rest, and it activates the responses necessary to engage our brains in sleep. However, in our brains, caffeine binds to adenosine receptors in brain cells, thus preventing them from detecting adenosine. As a result the nerve activity does not slow down making you less sensitive to your body’s natural need to rest or sleep.
Like all drugs, you get a boost of if you have a decent dose caffeine while not being used to it. If you are used to it, then you need it to keep on doing your daily stuff, while not having the benefits of the boost a non-caffeine consuming person does. Let’s be honest about our addiction and stop trying to justify it by claiming that it’s healthy. It’s not. The real reason we started drinking coffee was because of the kick it gave us. Now that we’re addicted to it, we no longer get that same kick, if any at all, we just drink it because we’re hooked on it and can’t function otherwise. I think it’s quite rediculous to ascribe coffee an energizing effect, when in fact it causes a fatigue.
CAN WE TRUST ALL THE SCIENTIFIC STUDIES ON CAFFEINE?
Unfortunately, many studies today are sponsored by coffee, chocolate, dairy and other wealthy industries and as a result there is a lot of bypass and dishonesty among scientists who do their best to sutisfy their sponsors. As Prof Collin Campbell once suggested that it is not difficult to arrange a study generating evidence that something which in reality is harmful may appear as safe or even beneficial. The best examples are studies on dairy and eggs that gave fake evidence according to which those products don’t raise blood cholesterol (>). Also the most famous studies on cocoa (the key ingredient in chocolate) were sponsored by the world’s biggest chocolate manufacturer – Mars (>). In 2011 Huff Post published an article titled 7 Health Benefits Of Coffee which is a review of the “so-called” scientific studies according to which coffee can prevent diabetes, cancer, depression, or lower cholesterol, although in fact previous independent research provided enough evidence to prove that the opposite is true. So, let’s for example look at the study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which says that drinking 8 cups of coffee per day can even raise beneficial HDL cholesterol, thus allowing every coffee lover to feel happy and free from any remorse. First of all, the HDL was raised by only 7%, which is relly insignificant difference, and could be influanced by other factors such as diet or reduced amount of stress. Second, we would have to drink 8 cups of coffee per day to achieve that small positive difference, overdosing caffeine at the same time, developing addiction and creating all kinds of dangerous negative effects listed (listed below). In addition, previous trials gave evidence that caffeine may raise levels of bad cholesterol LDL and deplete magnesium stores in our body, thus increasing blood pressure, risk of heart attack and contributing to other health problems. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn started encouraging people to avoid coffee as several studies indicate caffaine raises homocystine and may damage the lining of the artery. In this way, even if there is any short term gain created by driking 8 cups of coffee a day, it is soon lost and harmful effect is the final result. Unfortunately, the study results nor inspired by coffee industry massmedia, in their fullishness or dishonesty, never mentioned anything about those side effects, decieving people and encouraging them to increase consumption of a harmful substance believing it’s safe or even healthy.
Every plant has so many active ingredients that we can always find something beneficial. Some of them, however, including coffee, roasted and green tea, cocoa, etc. contain also toxines such as methylxantines and for this reason shouldnt be promoted as healthy or safe even in small amounts. All the more since all of them are highly addictive and not too many of us, especially children, posess strong enough will power to resist temptation of consuming them often and in large quantities.It is true that green tea contain antyoxidants but why not promote something which is high in antyoxidants but free from toxic caffeine or teophiline such as rooibos tea or olive leaf?
Most coffee drinkers I know look unhealthy. Plus, how good does it taste without the milk/cream/sugar — the nasties?
I tried coffee once and got addicted for a year. Then I started getting insomnia, palpitations and other problems. I decided to quit drinking. I felt so much better after about a week and never touched coffee since. I believe the risks outweigh the benefits with coffee.
coffee can cause hormonal imbalance leading to the formation of ovarian cysts.
green tea is very high in fluoride and that fluoride causes cognitive decline.
How something so acidic can be healthy?
Caffeine raises cortisol. If you’re already stressed, caffeine just adds fuel to fire.
IS IT HEALTHY DO USE CAFFEINE IN MODERATION?
Since higher concentration caffeine not only increase risk of various health problems but may even kill as it is a poison, I myself avoid anything with caffeine and never tell anyone that caffeine is harmless in moderation because it is not true as over time even moderate regular consumption of caffein will impose negative impact on our health. But if you don’t want or can’t abstain from this stimulant at least try to not ingest more than 200mg of caffeine per day and no more than 100mg in a single dose remembering that one instant cup of coffee contains aproximately 100mg of caffeine and that there are other high sourcess of caffeine such as black and gree tea, cola drinks, caffeinated beveriges, and some also is present in chocolate (although cocoa is much higher in theobromine – another harmful strong alkaloid and methylxantine). Also, please keep in mind that the only way to know the content of caffeine is by reading labels and researching.
Like most psychoactive substances, caffeine has unwelcome symptoms listed below and the more caffeine is ingested the more pronounced and dangerous these effects are.
Magnesium deficiency is caused by the diuretic effect of coffee. Almost all people are already deficient in magnesium due to soil depletion, refied diet and stress and caffeine causes that our body loses even more of this extremally important mineral thus contributing to blood pressure, muscle dysfunction, uteral cramps, stomach crumps, heart problems, IBS, spastic colon, anxiety, depression, sleeping problems, constipation, increased levels of cholesterol and blood sugar and many other problems.
The image below shows how certain drugs and toxins may degrade spider’s ability to build a spiderweb. On caffeine it seems unable to do more than string a few threads together at random. The more toxic the chemical, the more deformed the web.
METHYLXANTINES AND CANCER
Substances, such as caffeine, that can damage chromosomes can also increase the risk of cancer. Bladder cancer in women is over two times more likely to occur if a woman drinks only one cup of coffee per day.
Coffee, tea, and chocolate all contain methylxanthines and a large part of their effects on the brain are the result of the presence of these substances. Dr. McDoughal doesn’t hesitate to express his negative opinion about methylxanthines in his book “The McDougall Plan”: “Some of the most popular drugs consumed by people of affluent western nations are found in coffee beans, tea leaves, and cocoa beans (chocolate) all of which contain methylxanthines (caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine). In 90% of women with fibrocystic disease, these breast tumours disappear in two to six months when methylxanthines are eliminated from the diet. Cancer of the bladder also has been related to methylxanthines. All three of the methylxanthines can stimulate growth of breast cells, causing painful enlargement of breast tissue and lumps. This condition is known as fibrocystic disease.”
The article “Trigonelline Is a Novel Phytoestrogen in Coffee Beans” by Allred et al concludes that trigonelline found in coffee “stimulates the growth of estrogen-dependent breast tumors“.
Caffeine may contribute to many digestive problems. It irritates the stomach and bladder. Peptic ulcer patients should avoid beverages containing caffeine. Many people also find that caffeine drinks cause them to suffer diarrhea followed by constipation.
ADRENALIN, AGITATION AND GOSSPIP
Drinking coffee or anything which contain caffeine (black tea, green tea, etc.) triggers the release of the stress hormone – adrenaline. Adrenaline, however, is released in our body as a result of experiencing stressful or dangerous situations. It increases our abilities to fight or run when faced with a threat. This phenomenon can be very beneficial or even lifesaving when we actually our life is endangered, but it is very harmful when we boost adrenaline through caffeine or other methylxanthines while watching television, working on computer, reading a book or chatting with someone.
Apart from that, since you don’t use this increased adrenaline to improve your physical abilities this powerful stress hormone will molest your brain making you hyper-aroused, agitated. You may even say something that normally you wouldn’t say because by boosting adrenalin caffeine will make your emotions overrun your behaviour.
It reminds me a very interesting statement written over a hundred years ago by Ellen White (1827-1915) who suggested that coffee and tea may increase tendencies to gossip: “When tea and coffee users meet together for social entertainment, the effects of their pernicious habit are manifest. All partake freely of the favorite beverages, and as the stimulating influence is felt, their tongues are loosened, and they begin the wicked work of talking against others. Their words are not few or well chosen. The tidbits of gossip are passed around, too often the poison of scandal as well. These thoughtless gossipers forget that they have a witness. An unseen Watcher is writing their words in the books of heaven. All these unkind criticisms, these exaggerated reports, these envious feelings, expressed under the excitement of the cup of tea, Jesus registers as against Himself” (CD, p. 423, 1938).
FALSE ENERGY BOOSTER
It is true that there is an evidence that caffeine boosts energy for some time and may even improve cognitive functions of the brain (memory, concentration, etc.) in the short-term. Unfortunately, the studies which prove these benefits of caffeine do not take into consideration some very important participants’ caffeine habits. According to a new independent and much smarter research from Johns Hopkins Medical School the temporary improved mental performance stimulated by caffeine intake is just the result of a short-term reversal of caffeine withdrawal experienced by caffeine drinkers! It simply means that caffeine manage to temporarily boost cognitive functions of the brain only because coffee drinkers experience negative caffeine withdrawal symptoms. In other words, when you stop drinking coffee your cognitive performance is decreased causing a negative impact on your mood. So, as soon as you do drink coffee again, you start feeling better. In reality, caffeine is just taking your mental abilities back to normal for a short period of time. In order to increase energy it is therefore much better to use high in chlorophyll super greens such as chlorella as unlike caffeine it does not cause any side effects and boosts energy for much longer.
Physical and mental fatigue is common after drinking caffeinated beverages. Caffeine first stimulates the nerves than causes depression. Yet, many people mistakenly believe that coffee helps them get through a difficult day.
Stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine (in coffee, green tea, cola drinks, caffeinated products, chocolate, etc.), theophylline (in tea) or and theobromine (in cacao and chocolate) although appear to give you a short time energy boost yet it is only a borrowed energy, which means sooner or later you will have to pay for it with the loss of energy. And, as soon as you feel exhausted you it will force you to use stimulants again and again thus causing a vicious circle and addiction.
Dr Lawrence Wilson blames caffeine, for causing fatigue and adrenal exhaustion: “Caffeine and other stimulants can give one a boost, but eventually contribute to adrenal exhaustion.”
While caffeinated drinks cause an immediate increase in the learning ability, the overall result is a decrease in learning. Students are recommended to avoid caffeinated drinks in order to increase learning ability. If caffeine is taken at night, it interferes with the mechanism the brain has of transferring freshly learned material from short-term memory to long-term memory.
According to one study, with acute use, caffeine increased attention and awareness at the expense of anxiety and a “post-use crash.” On the other hand, chronic caffeine use actually decreased attention and energy. With repeated caffeine ingestion, tolerance developed. Acute caffeine use means that a person who normally ingests only minimal amounts of caffeine ingests a moderate to high dose of caffeine on certain occasions. Chronic caffeine use means that a person who normally ingests moderate to high amounts of caffeine continues in the moderate to high use.
SEROTONIN DEFICIENCY & DEPRESSION
In addition to fatigue, mental confusion and depression also result from the use of caffeinated drinks. We know that caffeine enters the brain and initially activates the release of different neurotransmitters that are related to mood, like dopamine and serotonin. That may explain the shorter-term effects on mood. But the long-term use of caffeine leads to the opposite effect and cause deficiency of neurotransmitters such as serotonin or dopamine, thus contributing to depression, anxiety, tiredness, memory problems, reduced concentration, etc.
In the book Natural Way to Overcome Depression, Obesity, and Insomnia, Dr. Michael Murray says that serotonin deficiency should also be blamed for causing fatigue: “Bad diet, lack of exercise, use of harmful substances such as caffeine or alcohol can rob your brain of the ability to make enough serotonin. This produces a range of significant complications: depression, obesity, insomnia, migraine headache, chronic fatigue.”
I remember certain extremely obese lady who had an unbelievable habit of drinking 16 bottles of cola drink every day! And it’s hard to believe but she told me I was the first person who explained to her how dangerous effect that amount of cola imposed on her health. As a result she was addicted to both caffeine and sugar. In addition, she was also unable to control her huge appetite as caffeine in cola caused serotonin deficiency while sugar robed her body of chromium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B complex and other nutrients also making her constantly hungry and tired. But as she started to ask God for strength, she managed to make slow progress in implementing the principles found in the Health Recovery Plan > and as a result she finally overcome her addictions and started losing weight.
Any type of addiction, including addiction to caffeine leads to dopamine deficiency, because whenever you experience a pleasure (assocoiated with addiction) your dopamine-producing cells flood your brain with dopamine so that you could experience pleasure. However, addictive behaviours (including drinking coffee) may cause up to 10 times more dopamine release. As a result of repeating the same addictive behaviour every day and forcing brain cells to produce so much dopamine makes them exhausted and unable to make enough of this hormone in between moments of pleasure assciated with addictions. In this way regular caffeine intake leads to dopamine deficiency symptoms including depression, lack of motivation, mental fogginess, etc. (read more about dopamine deficiency >). Studies confirmed that brains of addicts release much less dopamine and have fewer dopamine receptors.
CALCIUM DEFICIENCY & OSTEOPOROSIS
“One more undesirable effect of caffeine is that the drug has been shown to cause loss of calcium from the body. Therefore, another dietary maneuver you can use to prevent and possibly correct thin, calcium-deficient bones, or osteoporosis, would be to discontinue use of caffeine.” (Dr. John McDougall, “The McDougall Plan”)
HYPOXIA (LACK OF OXYGEN)
Irritability and anxiety are the most commonly seen emotional effects of caffeine, but caffeine enables all of your emotions to take charge. The negative effects of a caffeine-generated adrenaline surge are not just behavioral. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that large doses of caffeine raise blood pressure, stimulate the heart, and produce rapid shallow breathing, which deprives the brain of the oxygen needed to keep your thinking calm and rational.
Headaches are common among caffeine users and often clear up after short periods of caffeine abstinence (one to two weeks). Headaches may also occur as a symptom of caffeine withdrawal.
It takes a full twenty-four hours to work caffeine way out of your system. Have a cup of joe at eight a.m., and you’ll still have 25% of the caffeine in your body at eight p.m. Anything you drink afternoon will still be at 50% strength at bedtime. Any caffeine in your bloodstream—with the negative effects increasing with the dose—makes it harder to fall asleep. When you do finally fall asleep, the worst is yet to come. Caffeine disrupts the quality of your sleep by reducing rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the deep sleep when your body recuperates and processes emotions. When caffeine disrupts your sleep, you wake up the next day with an emotional handicap. You’re naturally going to be inclined to grab a cup of coffee or an energy drink to try to make yourself feel better. The caffeine produces surges of adrenaline, which makes your emotional handicap even worse. Caffeine and lack of sleep leave you feeling tired in the afternoon, so you drink more caffeine, which leaves even more of it in your bloodstream at bedtime. Caffeine very quickly creates a vicious cycle.
Drinking coffee has been shown to have deleterious effects on the developing fetus. Studies have suggested that seven cups of coffee per day may produce unwanted outcomes of pregnancy. Caffeine can damage the chromosomes of sex cells and the chromosomes of the developing embryo during pregnancy.
“Caffeine has been shown to cause birth defects in animals and is suspected of causing the same defects in humans. It would follow that you should completely avoid coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate in all forms during pregnancy.” (Dr. John McDougall, “The McDougall Plan”)
DRY EYES & SKIN
Caffeine in coffee, black and green tea, caffeinated products dehydrates eyes and skin.
SEIZURES & ABNORMAL HEARTBEATS
“Excessive caffeine has several dangers. With high consumption, one can have a sudden seizure or even abnormal heartbeats. On some occasions the abnormal heartbeats – called arrhythmias – can lead to sudden death, especially if your magnesium is low.” (Dr. Russell Blaylock, Newsmax magazine, November 2005)
OTHER SIDE EFFECTS
One of them is increased urination caused by theobromine (natural diuretic), another by-product of caffeine. Caffeine can also trigger palpitations, muscle tremors, nervousness and irritability, restlessness, stomach upset, elevated blood pressure, agitation, insomnia, increased breathing rate, fast heartbeat and other unwelcome side effects.
Like any stimulant, caffeine is physiologically and psychologically addictive. If you do choose to lower your caffeine intake, you should do so slowly under the guidance of a qualified medical professional. The researchers at Johns Hopkins found that caffeine withdrawal causes headache, fatigue, sleepiness, and difficulty concentrating. Some people report feeling flu-like symptoms, depression, and anxiety after reducing intake by as little as one cup a day. Slowly tapering your caffeine dosage each day can greatly reduce these withdrawal symptoms.
MOTIVATION & EMPOWERMENT
– If you believe in existence of God don’t forget about daily fervent prayers and reading or listening to a good spiritual literature (such as the Bible, Desire of Ages > and “Ministry of Healing” > by Ellen G White available online free of charge) which presents God as loving, healing, forgiving, carrying and saving from eternal death Person. All this will greatly increase the effectiveness of your improved diet and lifestyle: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV); “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV). Because from my own experience I know and remember how difficult it was, in my case, to change my eating habits and give up on junk food and stimulants using my own pathetic at that time will power, I recommend to you reading or listening to a book “Steps to Christ” > and Great Controversy > by Ellen White. If you carefully study all the information presented there and follow the steps, you will not only become victorious but will actually experience an inward transformation which will enable you to enjoy your new lifestyle (including diet and physical activity).
– Get spiritual and moral empowerment from the chapter Motivation and Empowerment >.
– Find most healthy RECIPES > that will help you overcome sugar cravings.
– One of the best examples of healthy recipes is found in the Hallelujah Diet website >
– Find out more information on health principles in the HEALTH RECOVERY PLAN >
Greden, John F. M.D. et al. Anxiety and Depression Associated with Caffeinism Among Psychiatric Inpatients. American Journal of Psychiatry 133:8, Aug 1978.
Bellet, Samuel. Effects of Coffee Ingestion on Catecholamine Release.
The Medical Effects of Coffee. Medical World News, January 26, 1976.
Science Digest, October, 1963.
Winstead, Daniel K. M.D. Coffee Consumption Among Psychiatric Inpatients. American Journal of Psychiatry 133:12, December, 1976.
Greden, John F. M.D. Anxiety of Caffeinism: A diagnostic dilemma. American Journal of Psychiatry 131:10, October, 1974.