Staunch coffee lovers may balk at the idea of even considering giving up on that familiar energy kick that comes with a good cup of coffee. With or without milk, coffee has an increasing and very distinct allure. With that, too, the undeniable sociability of a quick coffee with friends or colleagues goes without equal.
Who should reign in a bit on that cup of coffee or (dare we say it) go decaf? The good news is that there are plenty of proven health benefits that come along with drinking coffee, from a faster metabolism to a significantly lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Why then go caffeine free? Studies have shown significant benefits that could improve your daily wellbeing:
- Less anxiety. That familiar energy boost also stimulates our ‘fight or flight’ hormones which may cause an increase in anxiety, nervousness, heart palpitations, and even panic attacks. A higher caffeine intake has also been linked to increased chances of depression in adolescents.
- Better sleep (and taking less time falling asleep). Studies show that daily coffee intake can alter your sleep cycle, causing restless sleep and daytime drowsiness, especially if consumed less than 6 hours before bed.
- More efficient absorption of nutrients. The tannins in caffeine may inhibit the absorption of calcium, ironand B vitamins, especially for those with imbalanced diets or older age.
- Healthier (and whiter) teeth. Coffee and tea are known to stain teeth due to high levels of tannin which cause build-up and discoloured tooth enamel. The acidity in caffeinated drinks like coffee and soda can also led to enamel wear and decay.
- Balanced hormones for women. A 2012 study found that around 2 cups a day elevate estrogen levels which is concerning if you have increased risk for conditions like endometriosis, breast cancers, and ovarian cancers. Caffeine also worsens certain menopause symptoms.
- Lower blood pressure. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system thereby raising blood pressure levels. 5 cups or more per day may lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Balanced brain chemistry. Caffeine is known to improve mood by altering brain chemistry similarly to drugs like cocaine, hence its addictive qualities which cause withdrawal symptoms or temporary changes in mood.
- Fewer headaches. Caffeine withdrawal causes a few unpleasant side effects like headaches (which could become chronic), brain fog, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and irritability.
- A healthy digestion. Caffeine may be the culprit of many unpleasant digestive issues by creating a laxative effect that stimulates the bowels, causing diarrhea or even incontinence and may lead to developing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- You may age better as caffeine interferes with collagen formation by reducing synthesis in the human skin. Less coffee less wrinkles.
Who should avoid caffeine altogether?
- You’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Caffeine has been linked to an increase in miscarriage and decrease in fertility.
- You’re prone to anxiety. Caffeine has been shown to exacerbate certain psychiatric conditions. It can cause increased irritability, hostility, and anxious behaviour.
- You have a gut or digestive condition such as acid reflux, gout, diabetes or IBS which could worsen with caffeine intake.
- You take certain medications, especially prescription medication, some of which may include antibacterial drugs, antidepressants (especially MAOIs) and asthma drugs.
All that being said, coffee does have its benefits. If your life doesn’t get better after you ditch your morning cup, there’s no reason to completely go off the brew. Like all foods and good things in life, it’s about moderation.