By Katie Disharoon ND
There’s no easy way to say this: you’re probably an addict. I know that word has a nasty stigma associated with illicit drugs– but chances are you’re pretty darn attached to something you take daily and you wouldn’t dare let it go. Cup of coffee? Your daily Starbucks break? Energy drinks? Do you feel like you have an unhealthy physical or emotional relationship with caffeine? Think you might want to cut down or cut it out completely? If so, I support you and please, read on.
Caffeine is an interesting drug which gives us energy and lights up pleasure centers in our brains, so naturally that we might become attached to it. One of the best parts of my practice is encouraging healthy lifestyle choices — like moderating caffeine intake, which is what motivated me to write this article.
Caffeine — found in coffee, energy drinks, chocolate, some medications and other consumables — does many useful and interesting things in your body. Caffeine can increase focus and alertness and has been shown to possibly prevent some conditions including dementia in women and be helpful in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. It even increases levels of the feel-good chemical dopamine. You probably rely on it to perk you up when you’re dragging in the morning. The problem comes when it is not as effective (you need a higher dose to get the original effects) or you can’t go without your drink without some bad symptoms — which may be where you are now.
How can you cut down or stop your caffeine intake? The first step is to boost your water intake, as caffeine is a diuretic and your body needs fluid nourishment to function optimally. If it’s coffee you’re cutting down, start by going 50/50 with caffeinated and decaf coffee — then move down from there. If it’s another drink, use a substitute with lower or no caffeine (i.e. green tea instead of black, caffeine free version of a soda, etc). Once you’re fully on decaf, start weaning off of that, too (because it still has small amounts of caffeine). It’s totally normal to have withdrawal headaches while stopping caffeine; try some magnesium citrate or even an NSAID, like ibuprofen, if it gets uncomfortable enough. I also advise taking a B complex and making sure to eat regular and small meals to keep your blood sugar stable. You’ll survive, it’s just hard at first and although you may start out feeling very tired — your energy will bounce back with time.
You should start feeling better a week or so after you cut down on caffeine (or cut it out completely). The fog will start to lift and your energy will begin to improve… it just takes patience and some self care. I believe in you!
And if you want to join me on Wednesday August 23, 2017 for a free 30 minute health class on this subject, just RSVP with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article on coffee and the brain: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-does-coffee-affect-your-brain-2014-8