It’s 2 pm, and you’re feeling tired.
But it’s the middle of the workday. And you still have to finish writing your monthly report and get it to your boss before 5 pm.
What do you reach for?
You consider a cup of coffee.
You know it’ll help you stay alert to write an impactful paper for work.1
In fact, someone else around the world will probably take their coffee break with you.
80% of the world consumes caffeine every day, so you’re in the majority.2
And 90% of adults in North America indulge in some sort of caffeine on a daily basis.2 It makes sense, especially when you consider how readily available caffeine is. You’ll find caffeine in:
- Energy drinks
- Chocolate products
But could your daily cup of joe be hurting you and your health?
Let’s explore this popular stimulant drug and understand how it really affects your body.4
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant found in over 60 plants. These plants include tea leaves, coffee beans, and cocoa pods.3 Starting in 2737 BC, caffeine was consumed by Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung who boiled tea leaves in water.2
Its chemical name is 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine and is found in a variety of beverages and food. Caffeine can also be made synthetically and added to these products.
Caffeine can affect humans in so many ways. Some positive effects of caffeine consumption include1:
- Increased alertness
- Reduced fatigue
- Improved performance on work
- Better mental functioning
These positive effects explain why caffeine is popular amongst students and adults. But how does it work in your body? Keep reading to find out.
How does caffeine work in your body?
So you drink a caffeinated beverage. How does caffeine work in your body? It goes something like this:
Step 1 – Caffeine gets absorbed into your bloodstream.
Step 2 – The drug travels to your liver which detoxifies it and breaks it down into chemicals.
Step 3 – Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system by mimicking the neurotransmitter adenosine.6
Every hour that you’re awake, adenosine builds up in your body. As adenosine amounts increase, you start to feel more and more tired as the day goes on.
Step 4 – But instead of adenosine attaching to adenosine receptors, caffeine attaches to these receptors. However, caffeine doesn’t activate the adenosine receptors.7
Step 5 – Since adenosine can’t activate its receptors, you don’t become tired.
This explains why caffeine works well and is also able to keep you awake only after a few minutes of consumption.
So, is caffeine bad for you?
Energy drinks are the fourth leading “drug” that’s globally used due to their caffeine amounts.8 I refer to energy drinks as a drug because they have the drug caffeine in them.
These energy drinks can dangerously impact your cardiovascular system by increasing your blood pressure.
Also, do you ever notice your heart skips a beat or feels like it’s beating really hard after you finish an energy drink?
That’s because it probably is.
Energy drinks can dangerously impact your heart.9
In addition to cardiovascular effects, caffeine can also cause increased10:
- Body temperature
- Stomach pains
Caffeine overdose can also cause medical problems like10:
- Abnormal rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
People normally drink caffeine to start their day or to stay awake. But caffeine is not your friend. So, why consume a stimulant drug that has negative benefits when there are healthier, more effective options?
Instead, I highly encourage my patients to find ways to naturally increase their alertness and energy throughout the day.
What are natural ways to increase your energy, without caffeine?
You don’t have to rely on caffeine to keep you awake. What can you do instead? Here are my health tips:
1. Get adequate sleep every night
About 40% of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep every night while the recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7 hours or more.11,12
Adults who sleep less than 7 hours are more likely to experience adverse health effects like weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and depression.12
Less than 7 hours of sleep can also lower your immune system and increase your risk of getting into a car accident.
Your body, especially your brain and heart, thrives on exercise.
You’re also more likely to get a good night’s rest if you exercise regularly.
Exercise can also improve your mood and increase your energy levels, all without caffeine.
3. Green juice
While you may be tempted to reach for that coffee with espresso, try substituting a healthier alternative. I enjoy making green juices with green, leafy foods like kale and spinach.
To improve the taste, you can add fruits like kiwis, apples, and pears.
Green juice helps me stay hydrated throughout the day. The juice also gives my body an easy way for nutrients to be absorbed. My overall sleep has improved with green juices too!
Sleep, exercise, and green juice are three alternatives to your afternoon caffeinated beverage. You won’t have to worry about the negative side effects that caffeine brings, and these three alternatives can improve your overall health too, as well as your energy levels.
I promise you, after a few weeks you won’t even miss your caramel macchiato.
You don’t need caffeine
I know that once you’re in the habit of drinking coffee every morning it’s hard to stop. Caffeine withdrawals also aren’t fun to go through. However, I hope you’ll see caffeine for what it is, how it works in your body, and what other alternatives you have.
Do you have other natural ways to boost your energy throughout the day? Share with me in the comments below.
If you’re trying to curb your caffeine addiction, share this article with a friend so you can both ditch caffeine together.
I’m cheering for you,
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