As many of you know, I quit coffee this past summer. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it was quite possibly the best thing I've ever done for my health. It was a miracle that I was able to quit. I have been a full-blown addict since my teen years. I always said I would never quit drinking coffee. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. 😉
My Story – How Just One Cup Can Hurt
Before I get into the 30 reasons to quit coffee, I want to share this personal story. Things got stressful just before the Wise Traditions conference this fall. I wasn't getting enough sleep and I was working too much. I found myself resorting to a cup of coffee here and there, and the next thing you know I was drinking a cup every day. A very slippery slope.
What happened shocked me. On just one cup of coffee a day (occasionally two — and always in the morning), my ability to sleep through the night went in the toilet. Suddenly I was sleeping only 5-6 hours a night. I'd wake up at 3 or 4 am every night, tossing and turning. It took me hours to fall back asleep. The less sleep I got, the more I craved coffee. Suddenly I was drinking a cup in the morning and another in the afternoon because I was so tired.
It wasn't until I got back home from my trip and cut out coffee again that I saw the amazing change. In just one day after quitting coffee, I was sleeping 9-11 hours a night — effortlessly. I felt awake and alert, and had energy to burn all day.
You see, coffee is a psychoactive drug. It damages your body and your mind in a variety of ways. But it is also addictive. It makes you tired, makes you gain weight, makes you agitated and nervous, makes you depressed, and worst of all, it makes you want more of it.
Being addicted to coffee is like being married to a abusive husband. He beats you up and then hooks you and makes you afraid to leave. You never needed to be beaten — but somehow a wife beater makes you think you deserve it and it becomes normal. And worst of all, nobody can convince you to lave.
This is exactly what happens with coffee. Even just one cup a day.
I download a fascinating book to my iPad yesterday and read almost the whole thing in just one day. It's called Caffeine Blues: Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of America's #1 Drugby Stephen Cherniske.
I was literally blown away reading this well-referenced book. If you are ready to quit coffee and need some bolstering, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. If you think you don't need to quit coffee, you really need to read it.
What follows is a list of 30 reasons to quit coffee. There are many more reasons in the book — this is just a sampling.
30 Reasons to Quit Coffee
1. According to the author, Stephen Cherniske, “Caffeine is a biological poison used by plants as a pesticide.”
2. “Over 700 volatile substances in coffee have been identified, including more than 200 acids and an incredible array of alcohols, aromatic compounds, carbonyl compounds, esters, hydrocarbons, heterocyclic compounds, and terpenoids… Coffee often contains a raft of pesticide residues and other contaminants such as nitrosamines, solvents, and mycotoxins. These carry well-defined health risks, and some are carcinogenic.”
3. Caffeine raises blood pressure.
4. Caffeine increases homocysteine (a biochemical that damages artery walls).
5. Caffeine promotes arrythmias.
6. Caffeine constricts blood vessels leading to the heart.
7. Caffeine seems to give you energy but it is not real energy — only “chemical stimulation”. According to Cherniske, “The perceived ‘energy' comes from the body's struggle to adapt to increased blood levels of stress hormones.”
8. Children are the most vulnerable to caffeine because they don't detoxify the drug as easily. “Caffeine stays in a child's brain and bloodstream much longer than an adult's and subsequent doses produce a cumulative increase in stress and addiction.”
9. Cutting out caffeine can reduce and even eliminate chronic pain. Pain and tension in our bodies are related to the level of stress hormones in our bodies, which caffeine increases.
10. Caffeine is a stimulant. “Using stimulants is like a whipping a horse. They work for a short time but prove disastrous when used repeatedly.” In other words, coffee may help you in the short term, but in the long term, it hurts you in myriad ways.
11. Caffeine powerfully affects stress hormones. “It takes three weeks or more after withdrawal from caffeine before stress hormones return to normal.” Cherniske recommends that you eliminate caffeine for a minimum of 60 days in order to see how you really feel without caffeine. (I can personally attest to this. I have so much more energy today — but it did take several weeks off caffeine for me to feel it.)
12. Caffeine damages the nervous system. “Human and animal data suggest that dopamine and benzodiazepine receptors are involved in hand tremor, and the condition is common in both habitual and casual coffee drinkers.”
13. Coffee, even decaf, taxes your liver. “Coffee contains a host of chemicals, not just caffeine, among them a group of extremely toxic compounds known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons… The liver also has to deal with all the aldehydes, alcohols, and sulfides found in coffee.”
14. Coffee and drugs don't mix. (That's because coffee is a drug!) Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs contain caffeine. Many drugs (including birth control pills and heartburn drugs like Tagamet) “interfere with the liver's ability to detoxify the chemicals found in coffee. “Other pharmaceutical drugs have been shown to increase blood levels of caffeine by more than 600 percent.”
16. Caffeine impairs digestion. I could write a whole blog post on this one. It's not just coffee but also decaf — the oils in decaf are damaging to the gut. (Yes, I'm quitting decaf as of today.)
17. Caffeine causes stress on the body. Stress is a factor in most diseases.
18. Caffeine lowers your stress threshold. In other words, coffee drinkers handle stress less effectively.
19. Caffeine elevates cortisol.
20. Caffeine taxes the adrenal glands, which in turn negatively affects your thyroid, sex hormones, and your metabolism.
21. Caffeine suppresses immunity. “In all, more than 150 hormones are produced by the adrenals or metabolized from adrenal hormones. One group, known as glucocorticoids (including cortisol), act as a brake on the immune system… Scientists have recently learned that excess glucocorticoid production (caused by stress and caffeine) can profoundly suppress immunity.”
22. Caffeine depletes GABA, the calming brain chemcial that makes you feel in control and centered, not overwhelmed. “Caffeine disrupts the normal metabolism of GABA. Here's this wonderful brain biochemical that increases the ‘filter mechanism' of the brain, helps you to step back and see clearly even under stress, and caffeine screws it up.”
23. “Caffeine has been found to shorten total sleep time… Research shows that people who consume more than 250 milligrams of caffeine per day tend to have poor sleep quality.”
24. “There is a popular notion that coffee before 3 pm can't disturb your sleep. Caffeine at any time of the day can cause sleep problems, especially if you are under stress.”
25. Caffeine plays a role in hypoglycemia and blood sugar disorders. “As part of this (flight-or-flight stress) response, the liver rapidly raises blood sugar levels. This is felt as a ‘lift' by the person who drank the coffee… but the body must then deal with the metabolic emergency of hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar).
26. Coffee plays a role in malnutrition. Caffeine causes an increased loss of thiamin and other B vitamins, calcium, minerals, sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. “…studies showed that a single cup of coffee can reduce iron absorption from a meal by as much as 75%.”
27. Caffeine causes depression and anxiety, and can lead to panic attacks. Cherniske says that many people turn to antidepressants due to the fatigue, diminished sleep, and various mental problems they experience from drinking coffee. At the same time, SSRIs like Prozac seriously interrupt sleep patterns, which makes you feel drowsy during the day — at which point people reach for more coffee. He said (and this is one of my key takeaways from the book) that you cannot get off of an antidepressant if you are still consuming caffeine. And remember, it takes a minimum of eight weeks to truly get off caffeine.
28. Coffee can lead to stroke. “One study illustrated that a dose of 250 milligrams (approximately 15 ounces of coffee) produced approximately a 30% decrease in whole-brain cerebral blood flow. This is not only unfortunate, but it's dangerous, because at the same time, caffeine increases blood pressure in the brain, leading to an increase risk for stroke.”
29. Coffee makes you crazy! “If a person were injected with 500 milligrams of caffeine, within about an hour he or she would exhibit symptoms of severe mental illness, among them, hallucinations, paranoia, panic, mania, and depression. But the same amount of caffeine administered over the course of a day only produces the milder forms of insanity, for which we take tranquilizers and antidepressants.”
30. Caffeine can lead to allergies, food allergies, asthma and reduced immune response. There is evidence that caffeine interferes with the secretion and immune activity of secretory IgA, and stress is once again the principal factor. As the stress hormone cortisol rises, sIgA tends to fall. This is demonstrated even in mother's milk.”
I could keep going, guys, but I will stop there.
How to Quit Coffee
If you want to learn how I quit coffee effortlessly and painlessly, read my post on How to Quit Coffee.
Also check out the tips in Caffeine Blues: Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of America's #1 Drugby Stephen Cherniske.
Share Your Comments
Have you quit coffee yet? If not, what's keeping you from quitting?
Are you still eating chocolate (which also contains caffeine) or drinking green tea?
If you have quit coffee already, please share the experiences you have had since you quit. Did you find that it helped your health?
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