There’s nothing quite like the alluring scent of coffee brewing in the morning – but too much caffeine can wreak havoc on your health. This February, FebFast is encouraging you to give up caffeine for 28 days to experience the benefits of cleaner living, raising money for charity at the same time.
Caffeine is addictive. For many of us, having a cup of coffee in the morning is just an automatic part of our routine – we feel like we need it to wake up and function. Missing one cup when we’re hooked can lead to headaches, irritability and fatigue. Breaking free of your dependence on coffee gives you more control over your health, encouraging your body to use its own natural sources of energy.
Here are some of the ways a break from coffee can benefit you.
1. More energy
Coffee might perk you up, but experts say the idea that coffee gives you energy isn’t actually true. The burst of alertness you feel is a stress response that gives you a short-term artificial lift. Just as if you had perceived and external threat or danger, your muscles tense, your blood sugar elevates and your pulse speeds up. This high is followed by a crash, and withdrawal effects such as fatigue and headaches can set in. And regular coffee-drinkers know, the boost you get steadily lessens over time so you end up needing more and more to get the effect you crave, making it difficult to rely on the body’s natural source of energy. If you can break your dependence on caffeine, those daily fluctuations of alertness should even out, giving you more consistent, natural energy throughout the day.
2. Less stress
Giving up coffee can help you lower your stress levels and calm nerves. Because caffeine stimulates an excess release of stress hormones and interferes with brain chemistry, it can contribute to states of anxiety and depression. It also blocks the production of the body’s natural calming and mood-elevating neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
3. Better sleep
It goes without saying that sipping an espresso after dinner will keep you up, but coffee can disrupt your quality of sleep even if you drank it earlier in the day and the buzz you feel has long worn off. A study at Henry Ford Hospital and Wayne State College of Medicine in Detroit suggested that caffeine consumed six hours before bedtime can shorten the deep-sleep phases of your sleep cycle, resulting in poorer sleep quality and duration. Sleep experts suggest not drinking coffee or other caffeinated products after lunchtime, or at least eight hours before bedtime, to avoid it disrupting your sleep.
4. Weight loss
If you usually take your coffee with sugar, milk or flavourings, giving up your daily grind also means cutting down on your daily sugar and fat consumption – that mocha caramel latte has hundreds of calories hidden away! The link between coffee itself and weight is contentious among scientists, but some research suggests that drinking large amounts of caffeine can slow down your metabolism and lead to the abnormal retention of fat within cells, contributing to weight gain over time. A study by researchers at the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research showed that drinking six or more cups a day was closely linked to metabolic syndrome.
5. Better digestion
Coffee is acidic, and contains compounds that can irritate the lining of the digestive tract. In some cases this irritation can lead to digestive discomfort, indigestion and heart burn; in others it can contribute to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, GERD and dysbiosis (imbalances in your gut flora). It can also prevent you from absorbing vital nutrients properly. Giving up coffee is a great way to show your digestive system some kindness, helping you to process your food efficiently and comfortably, resulting in more energy and greater overall wellbeing for you.
6. More cash in your pocket
We all know the price of a good cup of coffee keeps getting higher – but what gets harder to keep track of is how much each one adds up. Just think: if usually buy one coffee a day, five days a week, at an average of $3.80 each, that’s around an extra $100 you’ll have in your pocket at the end of a month to spend however you like.