Most people would be surprised to find our that their mums are drug addicts. But many are. In fact, there are more caffeine addicts in the Western world than there are people who can do without, yet very few consider their habit beyond their choice of skinny latte or double mochaccino. Social protocol or not, anyone after more balanced energy, improved sleep or a lower-stress lifestyle may want to think about the affects of the naturally-occuring drug.
The average cup of drip-filtered coffee contains around 180 milligrams of coffee. And herein we find the main problem. Caffeine inhibits the binding of adenosine in the brain, which results in a quick activation of the adrenal glands and the ensuing release of adrenaline and cortisol which creates a temporary buzz. While an increased shot of stress hormones can help keep individuals awake situations of extreme fatigue, regular use can bring an otherwise healthy routine to its knees. Stress makes you tired, but the affect of adrenaline and cortisol can seriously damage your sleep.
The half life of caffeine is six hours. So two cups of coffee during the afternoon means that you may still have 180mg of caffeine in your system at 9pm, and 120mg shortly before midnight. To put this into perspective, that is the same amount of caffeine you would ingest by guzzling down two cans of Red Bull before curling up and expected a good night’s sleep. Instead, caffeine users get anything but. After rising from another night of unsatisfying sleep, you find that the only thing that will give you the pick-up you need is a strong cup of coffee. Such is the nature of the destructive cycle of coffee addiction.
Needing a coffee to get going in the morning is point at which you should take a step back to consider your caffeine habits. Ironically, those that need this early-morning hit are the people least willing to consider life without such a pick-up.
Decaffeinated coffee serves as a decent option for weaning yourself off. However, you should be aware that even the decaf option contains stimulants like chlorogenic acid and manufacturers use solvents to remove the caffeine; lots of decaf coffee is still not a particularly attractive option. Some ‘recovering’ coffee addicts find chicory tea a suitable substitute; others really do not. Tea drinkers should also be aware that their beverage of choice still contains a significant dose of caffeine at an average of 90 milligrams per cup.
It is at this point that green tea comes to the rescue. Full of powerful antioxidants, the partially fermented leaves of the camelia sinensis plant have consistently shown to improve cardiovascular and immune health. The theanine content also induces mental relaxation and the polyphenols increase thermogenesis, increasing fat-burning capability by over a third in some tests. A clear winner, by any definition.
It may be natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. While coffee is not all bad and does provide it’s fair share of antioxidants, it may be worth thinking twice before you knock back your next cup. Tell your mum, too.