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Beating an Addiction to Caffeine

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 1 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Caffiene Coffee; Tea; Cola; Chocolate;

Many people are unaware of their level of caffeine consumption, sources of caffeine and the effects of having too much, in fact there are a great number of individuals who do not even realise that they are potentially harming themselves irreparably.

What Is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a highly addictive substance found naturally in many products, or added by manufacturers to many household consumables. It is found naturally in the coffee bean, leaves of the coffee plant, certain leaves and berries and in tea. It can be found in almost all coffees, unless decaffeinated is noted, cola preparations, tea, chocolate and even in some medications.

What Are The Effects Of Caffeine?

Many people rely on the well known effects of raised alertness, a sense of increased concentration and an ability to alleviate tiredness, but aside from these potential benefits, many negative effects occur as a consequence of consuming caffeine.As a stimulant of the central nervous system, caffeine interferes with responses and interpretations to and from the brain. It increases the production of the stress hormone, hence a feeling of being more alert, can increase acids to the degree of potentially causing a stomach ulcer, alters the anatomical function of the blood vessels and strips the body of vital calcium supply. As a result of these actions people are more susceptible to osteoporosis, irregular heart rhythms and serious illness and pain from the gastro-intestinal tract.

Symptoms Of High Levels Of Caffeine

Irritability, bad moods, lack of sleep, palpitations, fine tremors of the hands and varying degrees of concentration can all be a result of consuming too much caffeine.

Symptoms Of Caffeine Withdrawal

Headaches, memory alterations, irritability, tiredness and nausea can all be caused during the period of withdrawal, to be expected when giving-up caffeine. Symptoms of withdrawal may last up to four days.

How To Quit

  • Cut back slowly to minimise the effects of withdrawal.

  • Drink plenty of fluids to help prevent headaches and to aid the cleansing of the system and flushing toxins away.

  • Exchange traditional teas and coffees for herbal or fruit blends instead.

    Swap to caffeine free alternatives, though they may taste extremely different to the regular types.

  • Try nibbling on dried fruits or sugar-free gum instead of chocolate; buy plain biscuits instead of chocolate ones.

  • Write a list of benefits from giving-up caffeine and refer to this regularly to remind you of why you are doing this.

  • Write a list of possible illnesses caused by too much caffeine and keep this somewhere obvious (the fridge door or by the kettle), for easy reference.

  • Book a trip to the dentist to get your teeth polished and rid them of the stains caused by tea, coffee or cola.

  • If you are a regular attendee of ‘coffee mornings’, suggest changing these to swimming mornings or park mornings and gain the benefit of exercise or taking the children to the swings or to feed the ducks.

  • Ask your employer for an alternative to a coffee machine.

  • Increase calcium intake to help replace the calcium lost by excessive caffeine consumption. This can be achieved by either taking a supplement or by increasing the amount of dark green vegetables, beans and dairy produce in a healthy diet.

  • Use a stress ball, crosswords, knitting or an activity you can enjoy for short and sharp periods of time, to help work through cravings.

  • Take pain relief for headaches.

  • Try complementary therapies to help manage some of the effects of caffeine withdrawal; stress can be relieved using reflexology, acupressure can be useful for reducing frustration and irritability and acupuncture is known to be helpful in relieving headaches and nausea.

If you are a cigarette smoker you may find that once you have control of your caffeine consumption, the opportunities for smoking are reduced; cigarettes and coffee are a true partnership for most smokers. Now may be a good time to think about giving-up the evil weed and get a full bill of health.

There are many reasons to give up caffeine, though many are people fear for the increased tiredness etc that is expected when becoming caffeine free, however exchanging caffeine with exercise and healthy options will potentially provide for energy and clear thinking than is experienced from caffeine.

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