When people think of addicts they don’t picture a person sitting in a cafe drinking coffee. Instead, they imagine the strung-out druggie looking for the next high. Yet I’ll put my hand up and admit I’m definitely an addict. My drug of choice is coffee. That luscious aroma gets me every time. When I say it like that it sounds pretty pitiful, doesn’t it? However, that’s the reality for plenty of coffee consumers.
Now, I know I’m not alone and there are plenty of us out there. So how do you know if you’re an addict or a consumer? Well that’s pretty easy. Take a mental note of how many of these questions you answer YES to and read on for the results.
Are you a coffee addict?
1. Do you wake up in the morning and “need” a coffee?
2. Are you cranky and impatient when you haven’t had your morning fix?
3. Do you regularly top up your beloved travel mug before commuting?
4. Do you get frequent headaches or feel tired/lack energy?
5. Does coffee make you feel “normal”?
6. Do you think you’ve developed some sort of tolerance toward coffee?
7. Do you drink or eat caffeine substitutes regularly? eg: tea, cola drinks, iced coffee, energy drinks, chocolate, etc.
8. Do you drink more coffee than plain water each day?
9. Do you fear or think you’d experience withdrawals if you don’t have at least one coffee per day?
10. Do you drink more than 3-4 small cups of coffees per day? (500mg of caffeine)
If you answered YES to most of these questions, you’re likely an addict. The only way to know for sure is to eliminate coffee and caffeine substitutes from your diet – IF you dare! Just like any other drug dependence ceasing consumption of coffee or caffeine will come with side-effects and withdrawal symptoms. These include experiencing the jitters or shakes, headaches, mood swings, irritability, fatigue, flu-like symptoms and nausea.
These symptoms are common for other types of substance withdrawals, including alcohol and illicit drugs. From this perspective, coffee isn’t the harmless beverage many of us consume cup-after-cup each day. It is, in fact, a legalized drug which could be doing more harm than good. This includes the following in order of how coffee can adversely effect us:
- Restlessness and nervousness
- Increased heartbeat
- Heart palpitations (cardiac arrhythmia)
- Cardiac arrest
There have been cases of overdose, plus some people who have consumed far too much caffeine have died as a result.
Benefits of reducing coffee consumption
As you can gather it’s in your best interest to reduce your coffee consumption to a level where your health will benefit. That’s around 300-500mg per day or 4 small cups (or about 2 mugs). Half that is advised for pregnant women. Lucky for us addicts, coffee is good for us but not the socially accepted copious amounts many of us have grown accustomed to.
When we reduce the consumption to a safe and healthy level coffee will continue to be the largest quantity of antioxidant many of us consume. It also contains nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, niacin and choline. If you add milk there’s added benefits of vitamin D and calcium.
Additionally it’s an excellent preventative for liver, colon, prostate, ovarian and oral cancers, stroke, basal cell carcinoma and heart disease. It’s also been linked to prevention of Parkinson and Alzheimer diseases plus Type 2 diabetes. There’s even been evidence of it reducing retinal degeneration.
One tip for reducing your intake is by substitute excessive consumption with decaffeinated coffee instead. If you prefer a mug to a small cup have your 2 real coffees in the morning and substitute the rest. It won’t taste the same but after a while you’ll feel the health benefits and be very glad you made the switch.