Caffeine Side Effects

We explored all of the benefits of caffeine in our prior article.  In this post, we are going to dive into the negative caffeine side effects.  Most of the negative side effects of caffeine are a result of over consumption.  If you consume coffee/tea and other caffeinated beverages in moderation, you likely have nothing to worry about.  However, more and more people seem to be consuming caffeine in excess and these negative symptoms are becoming much more common.

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Anxiety/Insomnia

As we mentioned in the prior post, caffeine works by blocking adenosine (a chemical that makes you feel tired) and triggering the release of adrenaline (a chemical that gives you energy).  Adrenaline is what puts you in the "fight or flight" sympathetic state and allows you to perform at a high level.  However, too much adrenaline and an over stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system results in adrenal fatigue.  Your brain and body simply can't function at 100% indefinitely.  If you are over-consuming caffeine, your body won't be able to take in and process the caffeine efficiently and you'll start to feel jittery and anxious.  

This over stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system makes it increasingly difficult to switch over to the parasympathetic nervous system, also knows as the "rest and digest" state.  As a result, it can be very difficult for your body to get a restful night's sleep.  Over consumption of caffeine often leads to an inability to fall asleep and/or a lighter sleep that prohibits you from falling into deep sleep and REM sleep.  All of which hinder your body's ability to full recover and prepare itself for another day of activities.

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High Blood Pressure & Rapid Heart Rate

Due to the stimulatory effects of caffeine, over consumption can lead to a temporary rise in blood pressure and an increased heart rate.  Now, these are fairly acute symptoms of caffeine and won't likely persist after the body has regulated.  However, it's important to be conscious of these effects and titrate your intake of caffeine up slowly rather than have a massive bolus of it all at once.  If your body is not familiar with caffeine in high dosages, you're much more likely to suffer from increased blood pressure and rapid heart rate.

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Digestive Upset

Coffee triggers the release of a hormone called gastrin that helps speed up activity in the colon.  Pure caffeine has also been shown to increase peristalsis, the contractions that get things moving through your digestive tract.  The ability to get things moving through your pipes can either be looked at as a positive or a negative depending on the situation.  Caffeine consumption can certainly cause movements at inopportune times so be wary of that.

Fatigue & Addiction

There is a reason caffeine is considered the worlds most widely used drug.  Everyone wants to perform at a heightened state and caffeine is available everywhere.  All you have to do is drive to your nearest Starbucks and refuel.  Before long, you'll be wide awake and ready to tackle the world.  However, all good things must come to an end...  If you are constantly using caffeine and becoming dependent on it to function, you're likely experiencing some degree of addiction.  Like most drugs, there is a point of diminishing returns.  More caffeine doesn't always equate to more energy.  In fact, chronically over consuming caffeine can have the exact opposite effect, fatigue.  Your body can't function in the sympathetic state at maximum effort forever.  Eventually, it will shut down and become unresponsive to the increased stimulants.  It's best to be proactive and combat this situation before it happens.

coffee addiction

Moderation & Sustainable Use Of Caffeine

If you are over-consuming caffeine, it would be wise to decrease your dosage and "wean" yourself off.  Doing so will reset your body's caffeine tolerance threshold and allow you to experience the beneficial effects of caffeine at a much lower dosage.  Weaning yourself off of caffeine often comes with some temporary negative side effects such as a dip in productivity, headaches, and fatigue.  It's best to gradually taper down your caffeine consumption rather than cut it out cold turkey.  It's also beneficial to supplement with L-Tyrosine while decreasing caffeine intake.  L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that helps stabilize dopamine production in the brain.  By keeping dopamine up-regulated, you're not as likely to experience the brain fog and dip in mental clarity that often accompanies a drop in caffeine.

It's wise to cycle completely off of caffeine from time to time.  This keeps your body adaptable and ensures that you don't become dependent on the caffeine to function.  Supplement with caffeine as needed but do so with moderation and make sure that your body is getting the proper balance of rest and recovery so that it can perform when needed.

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