Home > Food Fitness Part Two > Should You Go Decaf?

Should You Go Decaf?

Food Fitness to Nourish Your Body

Coffee -- it isn't just a plain black cup of Java any longer. Extra tall latte's, double espresso, triple Grande Chai tea, espresso, double mocha Java are just a few of the coffee drinks we've now come to enjoy. People are now consuming more caffeine than ever before.

Man with cup of decaf

Sales of fresh coffee alone have increased nearly ten percent in the last four years. Sales of hot chocolate have risen by 17 percent. Hot chocolate is a hidden source of caffeine.

Should you give it up? It isn't necessary.

Caffeine is one of the world's most studied drugs and can affect you in surprisingly varied ways. Caffeine is a potent stimulant that can jolt you into wakefulness, cause jitters, boost your blood pressure and give you a headache. It can even lead to addiction.

Although a caffeine addiction is nothing like the "I'd sell my soul for a hit" addiction, it can be enough that you may get withdrawal symptoms if you cut it out of your diet. The symptoms are temporary and consist of headaches and fatigue for the most part.

Now that the bad news is over, lets look at some of the good news! Caffeine is not bad for you. In fact, moderate doses can offer certain health benefits. A daily cup or two of coffee or tea may spare you from a painful bout of gallstones, ease your asthma or even help you lose weight. Coffee, tea and chocolate also contain antioxidants that offer health benefits of their own such as a lower risk of both cancer and heart disease.

Moderate Caffeine Consumption

Experts pretty much agree that moderate caffeine consumption, which would be about 300 milligrams (mg) daily, or what you would find in two to three eight ounce cups of coffee, or six eight ounce cups of tea. These amounts are found to be safe enough for most people. It should be noted, however, that some people could be very sensitive to caffeine whereas others can have a cup before bed and sleep like a baby.

Your Caffeine Quotient

Determine your caffeine quotient with the guide below. At the end of the article the results will be listed. Check or jot down statements that apply to you and which color they are printed in.

Your Caffeine Quotient
Coffee Beans Check or make note of all the statements that apply to you:

  • You are having trouble losing those extra few pounds
  • You tend to get gallstones.
  • You tend to get kidney stones.
  • You have asthma.
  • You feel dizzy or faint after a big meal.
  • You have been through menopause.
  • You feel nervous or jittery during the day or lie awake at night.
  • You are prone to depression.
  • You are trying to conceive or are pregnant or nursing.
  • You have heartburn or an ulcer.
  • You have high blood pressure.
  • You have panic attacks.
  • You often have severe headaches or migraines.

Coffee's Effects on Various Health Problems

Overweight or Obesity
Drinking a cup of coffee or tea before exercising can give you a metabolic boost and help energize your workout. Caffeine also helps free stored fat, so your body can then release it to be used as energy.

In a ten-year study that tracked 46,000 men, those who drank two to three cups of coffee a day had a 40 percent lower risk of developing gallstones then men who drank none. Coffee and other compounds in coffee seem to reduce the amount of cholesterol in bile, the digestive liquid in your gallbladder. When bile contains too much cholesterol, it can crystallize into stones.

Kidney Stones
Drinking plenty of fluids is the best way to prevent gallstones. Fluids dilute the chemicals in urine that can form these painful stones. Shoot for eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day. Adding a cup or two of coffee or tea should not be a problem. Moderate amounts of caffeine do not have a significant effect on kidney stone risk. It is important to note, however, that coffee is a diuretic. One cup of any beverage containing caffeine only counts as a gain of about half a cup of fluid.

Asthma Attacks
During asthma attacks, the airways in your lungs close, causing shortness of breath. Caffeine, which is chemically related to the anti-asthma drug theophylline, relaxes the smooth muscles of your bronchial tubes, keeping the airways open.

Coffee is not a trigger of pancreatic and bladder cancers as once thought. In fact, some studies now indicate people who drink coffee are at reduced risk of certain cancers. Coffee doesn't seem to have any effect regarding coffee.

Hypotension (dizziness or fainting)
If you are susceptible to postprandial hypotension, which is a drop in your blood pressure following a large meal, a cup of coffee or tea after the large meal could be very beneficial. The caffeine in coffee will fend off the symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision and fainting spells that occur with this ailment. What caffeine will do is bring your blood pressure back up.

When a women reaches menopause, the risk of osteoporosis increases markedly. Caffeine is known to interfere slightly with your body's ability to absorb calcium, but if you add a little milk to your coffee or tea, you can compensate for this. So if you love coffee or tea, you needn't give it up. You can buy non-fat creamers now or use skim milk if you are watching your weight.

If you drink unfiltered coffee, you could pose a threat to your cholesterol levels. Instant coffee is among this type. Scientists believe that two compounds in coffee are to blame. These are cafestol and kahweol. By brewing your coffee through a paper filter or gold-plated filter, you remove these ingredients. If you are an instant coffee drinker, simply pour the prepared coffee through a filter prior to drinking it. If you do filter your coffee, you have no worries in regards to your cholesterol.

Are you Sensitive to Caffeine?
If you are one who is more sensitive to caffeine, it is likely that you will suffer from the jitters and insomnia when you consume some. Even low to moderate amounts can affect those who are sensitive. You can also have difficulty concentrating as well as nervousness, trembling, irritability and even disorientation. If these symptoms sound familiar to you, you may wish to think about cutting back on your intake of caffeine until you feel them subside.

Depression and Caffeine
Caffeine can improve your mood but the affect isn't a lasting one. When the boost in mood recedes, one can wind up feeling more depressed than ever. Even in those who are not depressed, the decrease can cause a temporary feeling of depression. Moreover, caffeine can make some antidepressants less effective. If you are one who is prone to depression or are taking antidepressants, you may want to check with your doctor about this.

Pregnancy and Caffeine
Some research suggested that caffeine could make it more difficult to conceive and would result in an increase risk of miscarriage and low birth weight. Other studies have suggested otherwise. So, if you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, be safe and use caffeine in moderation. If you are or plan to breastfeed, you should do so also. Caffeine can make its way into breast milk so you should limit yourself to 200mg a day. This would be the equivalent of about 2-1/2 five-ounce cups of coffee.

Heartburn, Peptic Ulcers and Caffeine
The caffeine in coffee and tea is not the culprit in aggravating these ailments, rather it is the fault of other ingredients in coffee and tea that stimulate digestive acid secretion and aggravate indigestion, gastroesophageal reflux and ulcers. You may wish to make a date with an Herbal tea instead.

When You Should Definitely Decaf Your Life

If you suffer from any of the following conditions, you should eliminate caffeine entirely, if possible.

  • High blood pressure. Caffeine can hike your blood pressure as much as ten points. This will raise your risk of heart disease and stroke. Limit or eliminate caffeine if you suffer from hypertension.
  • Panic Attacks. Caffeine has been known to elevate anxiety, exacerbating symptoms of panic disorder and acute anxiety. Very moderate amounts or complete elimination of caffeine in your diet should be seriously considered. Adrenaline causes anxiety attacks and caffeine will raise your levels of it.
  • Heart Disease. Caffeine can raise the level of your heart rate, which can, in turn, harm your heart. A rapid heartbeat from exercise is good for you, but an increase from caffeine while inactive could be dangerous. Tachycardia or rapid heartbeat can result and is detrimental to an already damaged heart.

Your Body on Caffeine

Caffeine does affect your body parts far and wide. Here is what goes on inside you when you indulge in a beverage containing caffeine:

  • Levels of stress hormones epinephrine and norephinephrine rise.
  • Caffeine blocks adenosine, a brain chemical that helps you to relax and go to sleep.
  • Your heart rate, blood pressure and adrenaline levels rise.
  • Caffeine stimulates your bladder to excrete more urine, which can lead to mild dehydration if consumed in excessive amounts.
  • Caffeine prompts the release of small quantities of the feel-good hormone dopamine.
  • Fatty acids enter into your bloodstream, boosting energy levels.
  • Your large intestine becomes more active, because caffeine acts as a laxative.

Results to Your Caffeine Quotient Check

Scoring Guide:
If you checked none of the above colored statements, or only the ones in the green print, drink up!
If you checked any in the purple print, but none in the red, cut back.
If you checked any statement in the red, you should decaf your life.

Did you know?

September 29th is International Coffee Day.

You may also find of interest...


Disclaimer: The material on this Web site is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or fitness professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness program or fat or weight reduction program. FitnessandFreebies.com takes no responsibility for individual results, or any claim made by a third party.