Last month, a teen in South Carolina died of a caffeine overdose. The amount he reportedly consumed was not anything outrageous: 1 Mountain Dew, a latte, and an energy drink. I know people who consume that much before noon. (I’m fairly certain I was one of them in my college days.)
Whether we’re approaching the “safe” limit of 400mg (about 5 cups of coffee) in a day or not, most of us can stand to cut back on caffeine, at least a little.
Should You Consider Cutting Back on Caffeine?
Caffeine can be a great pick-me-up on days where you’re moving slowly. Unfortunately, too many of us have come to rely on it too much, too often.
Using caffeine to curb chronic low-energy is akin to using Advil so you can continue running on an injured ankle. It may get the job done, but you’re putting yourself at risk for a more serious injury down the road.
Overuse of caffeine affects us in a few different ways:
- Increased stress on adrenal glands – Caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline, which your body registers as stress. It produces excess cortisol to calm your body down and, over time, this can fatigue your adrenal glands. This leaves you more susceptible to stress, low immunity and, you guessed it, fatigue.
- Poor sleep quality – Even if you’re one of those people who can drink a large coffee and go to sleep right after, your quality of sleep can be impacted. Caffeine that hasn’t left your system can prevent you from entering REM sleep – the restful, reparative portion of your night. This means that you wake up groggy and unrested, and reach right for the coffee.
- Digestive difficulties – Ever notice how quickly you have to run to the bathroom after your first cup of coffee? Because caffeine is a stimulant, it can cause food to move through your system too quickly. This can lead to premature “dumping” of your stomach contents (the pyloric sphincter opens before the food is properly broken down) and malabsorption of nutrients.
But I love my coffee! What can I do?
I know. Giving up the coffee is so difficult! If you’re looking to make the switch to decaf, take it in stages. Our friends at Kicking Horse Coffee have a half-caf blend called “Half Ass”. From there, you can work your way to their Decaf blend, or i deal coffee‘s damn fine decaf.
If you love the taste of coffee, but aren’t married to the actual beans, you can try our newest addition, Teeccino. As a caffeine free herbal coffee, it gives you the taste of coffee, but with the added bonus of antioxidants, fibre, potassium, and alkalinity!
I don’t care about coffee, but I need SOME caffeine!
For a lower hit of caffeine, tea is a great place to start. Even a cup of black tea has less of the jittery stuff. If you’re a green tea fan, you’re especially in luck – green tea has caffeine, but also L-Theanine. This means that you’re getting an energy boost and some mental calmness on the side. You can get this from loose leaf, tea bags, or from matcha – concentrated green tea powder.
I’m ready to give up caffeine, but I’m still so tired!
Most of us lead lives that require more energy than we have in a day. Sometimes this can be remedied by some lifestyle adjustments but, for some people, 80 hour workweeks are unavoidable. Or there are too many kids to run around after. Or there are 6 final exams to study for. Any way you slice it, it’s hard to survive a day without some sort of energy boost.
Luckily, there are a few natural products that are great at boosting energy without the negative effects on your stress levels, sleep, or digestion. My top picks are:
- Rhodiola – an adaptogenic herb that helps combat fatigue, depression, insomnia, and enhances athletic and mental performance
- Ginseng – also an adaptogen (literally helps you adapt to stress), it helps with energy, memory, endurance, depression, and anxiety, and has anti-inflammatory properties
As always, check with your healthcare practitioner before changing up your supplement routine. Not all products are right for all people in all situations.
Have you cut back or eliminated caffeine from your diet? What are your go to tips? Tell us in the comments, or Tweet at us!
About The Author:
Kelly Boaz, CNP
Kelly is a holistic nutritionist, specializing in eating disorder recovery and food freedom. She is also a public speaker (TEDx King St. West, TDSB) and a writer. Learn more about Kelly, and about booking private consultations at kellyboaz.com Twitter/Insta: @kelly_boaz Facebook: /KellyBoazDotCom