1 Month Without Coffee

Getting the Shivers

I don’t consider myself as a big coffee drinker. However, since I started working full time I’ve been having 1-2 coffees every day during the work week and maybe one during the weekend. I found that I would have slight shivers and a rather high pulse by the end of the workday. I also felt my skin getting very dry, particularly in my face. Moreover, felt that I was becoming more and more dependent on coffee to kick start my system in the morning and afternoon. Furthermore, my quality of sleep seemed somewhat reduced, but I didn’t think much into it. After all, everyone drinks coffee, right?

coffee4Before the Christmas holidays, one of my colleagues stopped his intake of caffeine for a bit. He would normally have 6-7 cups of coffee and a bottle or two of Pepsi Max per day. When he suddenly stopped feeding himself all the caffeine he claimed that he started having bad head aches, nausea and felt irritable. After staying away from it for a while he said the head aches and nausea faded away and his mood went back to normal. He also said he had better sleeps at night.

Hearing this, I thought I might try and hold off from coffee for a month and see if I could escape the shivers, high pulse and dryness at the end of my workdays. The first week I was really caving a big cup of coffee when getting in to work. I also felt very tired throughout the day. However, it slowly wore off, and by the second week I didn’t really think about coffee that much. Interestingly, I also felt that I had more restful sleeps every night.

Other Side Effects of Coffee

Most people have a lifestyle and diet that makes the body very acidic. With high levels of stress, the brain creates adrenaline and other chemicals that produce an acidic environment in the body. Unfortunately, the Western diet mainly consists of food and drinks that creates high acidic levels in the body. With a high intake of foods containing sugar, dairy, wheat, deep fried and other Fast foods, and then flushing it down with soft drinks, coffee or alcohol,  the pH levels develops way too far into the acidic side of the scale. As my main focus in this article is coffee, I will stick to the effect of this popular drink – I will be writing a post on the balance of alkaline and acidic levls in the body shortly, so stay tuned.

Coffee can result in:

  • More acidic body (leading to more inflammation)
  • Restless sleep
  • Leach precious minerals from our systems
  • Shivers and high pulse
  • Dehydrating the body
  • Caffeine dependence
  • Bad breath
  • Discoloring of the teeth

Alternatives to Coffee

coffee3I found that being in an office working in front of a computer the whole day makes you want to have little treats quite frequently – simply because it is stagnant work. I tend to want a snack or a drink because I’m actually a bit bored and want a distraction. Coffee is the most common drink to have, and makes you feel more awake and focused at the same time. However, as mentioned; after a while off the caffeine I didn’t reach the same levels of tiredness throughout the day. I found that drinking various types of tea (my favorites are green tea, chamomile tea and chai tea with organic soy milk), coffee alternatives such as Bambu Coffee Substitute (picture), and even water was just as good.

I found that reaching for the coffee is all a habit. When the body is dehydrated by 2% of normal levels, we can perform up to 20% poorer (read more about this in “Water“), so just by restoring those levels we automatically regain energy to continue on.

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Results & Discoveries

As mentioned, during the month that I didn’t drink coffee I had no shivers or high pulse when leaving work. Neither did my face feel dry. Importantly, I also fell asleep faster and had better quality sleeps every night. Another side effect of this experiment that I did not expect was the feeling of cleanness. I actually felt that my body was somewhat more pure. I don’t know whether this was because of the acidity of my body going down or as a result of better sleep or even the absence of coffee itself. Either way it felt great! As much as I appreciate the taste, smell and feeling of coffee, I’ll be aiming at having it only occasionally and fully enjoy that treat.

Below is my first coffee after a month off; can’t remember last time I enjoyed it this much! ★

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Resources

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002445.htm

Caffeine

What is caffeine and what does it do?

Caffeine is a substance that is found in certain plants. It can also be produced synthetically and then added to food products. It is a central nervous system stimulant and a diuretic (substance that helps rid your body of fluids). Caffeine is absorbed and passes quickly into the brain. It does not collect in the bloodstream or get stored in the body. However, it leaves the body in the urine many hours after it has been consumed.

There is no nutritional need for caffeine and it can be avoided in the diet.

Caffeine stimulates, or excites, the brain and nervous system. It will not reduce the effects of alcohol, although many people still believe a cup of coffee will help a person “sober-up.” Caffeine may be used for the short-term relief of fatigue or drowsiness and is suggested to be the most common stimulant in our society.

Most people get their caffeine intake from coffee, which is highly acidic. Milk is also acidic, so the combination makes a very acidic environment in the body. In chemical terms, acids are molecules that  contain an extra proton that can be donated, while bases can accept an  additional proton. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14; pure water has a neutral pH  of 7. Acids range from 0 to 7, and bases range from 7 to 14 on the scale. The regular blood pH-range is 7.36 to 7.44, making it slightly alkaline. Deviating from this pH range puts you in an imbalance which is likely to limit the body in maintaining health, making it less resistant and can then result in disease.

Food sources containing coffeine

Caffeine is widely consumed. It is found naturally in the leaves, seeds, and fruits of more than 60 plants, including:

  • Tea leaves
  • Kola nuts
  • Coffee
  • Cocoa beans

It is in:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Chocolate
  • Most colas (unless they are labeled “caffeine-free”)

Caffeine is often added to over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers, over-the-counter diet pills, and cold medicines. Caffeine has no flavor and it can be removed from a food by a chemical process called decaffeination.

Side Effects

Caffeine can lead to:

  • A fast heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Urinating more often
  • Vomiting

Stopping caffeine abruptly may cause withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Reduce caffeine gradually to prevent any symptoms of withdrawal.

The effect of caffeine on health has been widely studied.

  • Large amounts of caffeine may decrease bone mass density, most likely by interfering with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. This may lead to osteoporosis.
  • Caffeine may cause or worsen painful, lumpy breasts (fibrocystic disease).

Caffeine may have a negative effect on a child’s nutrition if caffeinated drinks replace healthy drinks, such as pure water and freshly pressed juices. A child who consumes caffeine may also eat less, because caffeine can reduce the appetite.

Recommendations

The American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs states that moderate tea or coffee drinking likely has no negative effect on health, as long as you live an otherwise healthy lifestyle.

  • Three 8 oz. cups of coffee (about 250 milligrams of caffeine) per day is considered an average or moderate amount of caffeine.
  • Ten 8 oz. cups of coffee per day is considered excessive intake of caffeine.

People who may want to avoid caffeine or only drink small amounts of it include:

  • People who are prone to stress, anxiety, or sleep problems
  • Women with painful, lumpy breasts
  • People with acid reflux or stomach ulcers
  • People with high blood pressure that does not respond to treatment
  • People who have problems with fast or irregular heart rhythms
  • People who have chronic headaches

Carefully watch how much caffeine a child gets. Even though caffeine is safe in moderate amounts, it is a stimulant. A hyperactive child may need to avoid caffeine.

Small amounts of caffeine during pregnancy are safe, but large amounts are strongly discouraged.

  • Caffeine, like alcohol, travels through your bloodstream to the placenta and can have a negative affect on your baby. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it increases your heart rate and metabolism — both of which directly affect the baby.
  • It is okay to have one or two cups of coffee, tea, or cola a week, but try to give them up completely if you can.

Many drugs will interact with caffeine. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about possible interactions with caffeine whenever you take medications.

Resources

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002445.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20502420

http://www.livestrong.com/article/331031-facts-about-human-bodys-ph-levels/

http://www.gaianaturopathic.com/docs/Effects_of_Coffee.pdf

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