Are You Drinking Too Much Caffeine?
Most of us enjoy a cup of tea or coffee at some stage in the day, benefiting from increased concentration, focus and improved coordination. However, many of us are drinking far more caffeine than does us good. Caffeine causes chemical reactions in the body that tell our adrenal glands to produce adrenalin, which gives us a rush of energy and puts us in ‘fight or flight mode’. When this happens we enter a high-alert state, as if under threat of attack. This reaction triggers the same stress response that our prehistoric ancestors experienced when defending themselves against tigers and bears.
As the effects of the caffeine wear off we start to feel lethargic and often reach for another hit, and so the cycle continues. The problem with this is that we end up building a tolerance to caffeine and therefore need more of it to gain the same effect. Constant caffeine consumption forces our adrenal glands to produce more and more adrenaline, eventually exhausting them and causing burnout.
So, how much caffeine is too much caffeine? Guidelines from the Department of Health suggest limiting yourself to 400mg of caffeine per day or 200mg if you are pregnant. Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, chocolate as well as in several cold medicines and energy drinks. One cup of coffee is equivalent to around two cups of tea. An average cup of filter coffee contains approximately 140mg of caffeine, but due to large variations in how much caffeine our high street coffee cups contain, it can be hard to tell just how much we are taking. How much you are affected by caffeine also depends on how sensitive you are to its properties. Different people are able to tolerate different amounts.
Caffeine consumed in excess can cause sweating, headaches, breathlessness, anxiety, fever, increased thirst, jitteriness, irregular heartbeat, irritability, hallucination, diarrhea, gastro intestinal problems. If you are one of the many millions of adults in the UK suffering from insomnia, then caffeine could very well be the main culprit. More than half of all adults in the UK suffer with insomnia, which has been linked to high caffeine intake.
If you have started suffering from any of the symptoms above try cutting back to just one cup of tea or coffee, or one cola or chocolate bar each day. Carve out ten minutes to really enjoy your drink and use it as a time to really refocus and re-energise yourself. As the tea brand Twinning’s suggest “Take 10 to get you back to you”.
You may experience withdrawal symptoms from reducing your caffeine intake at first, so switch to decaffeinated versions of tea, coffee or cola until you are able to cut them out completely. The benefits of being caffeine free will soon start to kick in and everyone around you will wonder what your new secret to sustained energy is!
Here are 8 great ways to energise without caffeine
- Eat an egg followed by whole grain cereal for breakfast. Eggs are rich in B-vitamins, which your body uses to convert into energy. Whole grain cereals reduce the rate that glucose gets released into your bloodstream, which helps keep your energy levels consistent during the day.
- Snack on soya beans, another B-complex rich food.
- Go for a 10 minute walk in the fresh air if you feel sluggish. Exercise increases energy and reduces fatigue. Increasing oxygen intake helps improve focus, creativity and productivity. If you work in the city try taking an oxygen supplement.
- Take trail mix into your meetings to munch when drowsy. The natural fats in nuts, seeds and oils help provide long-lasting energy. Be sure to take enough in to share with your co-workers though or they’ll start calling you squirrel nutkin!
- Drink more water. First thing in the morning fill a large glass and pop it on your desk, or carry a bottle with you if you are on the go. We need water to help our bodies carry nutrients around the body and also to get rid of waste from our system, which can otherwise build up and cause fatigue.
- Eat quinoa for lunch instead of bread. Quinoa is packed full of nutrients and is a source of carbohydrate that helps provide long lasting energy.
- Take a power nap after lunch. Studies show that a short 20 minute snooze can increase cognitive function by up to 40%.
- Try a liquid goji berry shot in the afternoon. Goji berries help us handle stress by increasing blood flow, keeping our organs, cells and tissues oxygenated and feeling great.