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Coffee as an Addiction: Effects of Caffeine

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As indicated by a current report distributed by the American Foundation of Pediatrics, almost three-fourths (75%) of kids, teenagers, and youthful grown-ups devour caffeine — as pop, espresso, and caffeinated drinks.

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Caffeine is a drug — a stimulant drug, to be exact. It’s even possible to be physically dependent on it — which means that a person who is used to drinking lots of caffeinated beverages can experience withdrawal symptoms if they quit. De-sensitizes your body to caffeine. We all know what happens when you drink coffee regularly: you have to drink more and more to get the same effects. Caffeine is as addictive as nicotine and recreational drugs, and it affects your body the same, meaning no matter how much you drink, you never get the same “high” you got the first time. The more coffee you drink, the more you need to drink to get that same effect. Not only is it hard to get the same “high”, but you develop a dependence on caffeine in addition to the tolerance. If you stop drinking coffee, you get the “shakes”, a headache, and other downsides.

It’s a well-documented fact: caffeine raises your blood pressure. However, did you know that the increase in blood pressure is caused by vascular resistance, and not by an increase in your heart rate or blood flow? This means that caffeine makes your heart work harder to pump blood through your body. High blood pressure is one of the most common risk factors in coronary heart disease. Essentially, drinking caffeinated drinks will force your heart to work double-time just to pump oxygen and nutrients through your body. For those with high blood pressure, perhaps it’s time to cut back on the Java. Increases acid production — Specifically hydrochloric and gastric acids. Both of these acids are necessary to break down the food in your stomach. However, too much acid can cause problems in your stomach. The acid can eat into the stomach lining (causing ulcers), or it may increase your risk of acid reflux. This is even more of a problem if you drink coffee first thing in the morning, when there is no food in your stomach to mitigate the effects of the acid. Oddly enough, it’s not the caffeine’s fault! One study discovered that the roasting of the coffee is most likely responsible for the increased gastric acid release.

Not everyone who drinks coffee experiences digestive problems, but most people suffering from IBS, ulcerative colitis, gastritis, peptic ulcers, and Crohn’s disease will find that the coffee irritates their digestive system and makes their stomach/digestive problems worse. When you drink coffee, you increase the production of acid in your stomach. This increase in acid weakens your stomach lining, making it easier for bacteria (like the H. pylori bacteria responsible for ulcers) to burrow into the stomach tissue. And the effects aren’t limited to your stomach! Coffee can also irritate your small intestines, causing cramps, abdominal spasms, and alternating constipation and diarrhea a condition known as IBS.

Have you ever felt a burning, stabbing pain in your chest or stomach after drinking coffee? If so, coffee may be causing acid reflux or heartburn. Caffeine relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that stops food from coming back up your throat once it hits your stomach. When the sphincter relaxes, it allows food and acid to come back up the esophagus, and the acid burns the unprotected tissue of your esophagus.

Coffee isn’t the only drink that can cause heartburn and acid reflux  caffeinated sodas and teas are also responsible. Still, if you’ve got that stabbing, burning pain, perhaps it’s time to give your body a break and cut coffee/caffeine for a week or two. Affects brain and central nervous system. We all know that coffee makes us feel awake, but do you know why? Coffee doesn’t actually cause your body to produce more energy; instead, it shuts off the part of your brain that registers tiredness.

Coffee antagonizes the receptors in your brain that recognize adenosine, the chemical that signals fatigue. By turning off these adenosine receptors, coffee tricks your brain into thinking that you are more alert, awake, and focused than you really are. This blocking of the adenosine receptors will make you feel awake and alert, but woe to you when the caffeine wears off. Because these receptors have been shut off, they become more sensitive when the caffeine stops blocking them. Hence, you feel the “coffee crash”.

Caffeine also affects your central nervous system, and it can cause problems like:

  • Anxiety
  • Jitters
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Drowsiness
  • Affects nutrient absorption

One of the most notable examples is coffee’s effect on calcium absorption. Coffee essentially interferes with your body’s ability to absorb calcium, preventing it from reaching your bones. Excessive caffeine intake can lead to bone thinning and osteoporosis.

Drinking a cup of coffee, or eating a bar of chocolate, is usually not a big deal. But there are alternatives to caffeine if you’re looking for an energy burst but don’t want to get that jittery feeling caffeine sometimes causes.

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Here are a few alternatives you can try to feel energized without overdoing the caffeine:

  • Sleep. This may sound obvious, but getting enough sleep is important. Teens need 9 hours of sleep a night.
  • Eat regularly. When you don’t eat, your glucose (sugar) levels drop, making you feel drained. Some people find it helpful to eat four or five smaller meals throughout the day instead of fewer big meals.
  • Drink enough water. Since our bodies are more than two-thirds H20, we need at least 64 ounces of water a day.
  • Take a walk. If you’re feeling drained in the middle of the day, it helps to move around.
  • Working out is a great substitute and has many benefits too! (Reed, 2016) (Reed, 2016)

Works Cited

  1. Reed, K. (2016, 3 3). The 15 Terrible Coffee Side Effects You Need to Know About. Retrieved 1 9, 2018, from positivehealthwellness: https://www. positivehealthwellness. com/diet-nutrition/the-15-terrible-coffee-side-effects-you-need-to-know-about/

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