In the 1600s, René Descartes wanted to dissect cadavers for his scientific studies. At the time, human dissection was not allowed because the prevailing religion of the time believed that damaging the body would also damage the soul. Descartes used science, philosophy, and religion to change this belief and gained access to cadavers. His ideas eventually led people to the philosophy of Mind-Body Dualism, which says that emotional, mental, and physical health (mind-body) are completely separate (dualism).
Today, we know that our emotional, mental, and physical health are inseparable. This blog series will explore the ways our emotional, mental, and physical health are connected, and how we can use this to our advantage as we strive for better health.
In this post, we’ll discuss how caffeine, whether from coffee or tea, affects our mental and emotional health. If you’re like 90% of U.S. adults, you begin your day with a cup of caffeine to jumpstart your mind and body. But what else does caffeine do, and is it good or bad?
Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system to improve alertness. Experts hypothesize that this is why regular coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s, and their depression and suicide risk rates decrease by 45%. Caffeine stops the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that makes your feel relaxed and tired. Adenosine levels increase over the course of a day, letting you know when it’s time to sleep. Caffeine also increases dopamine and norepinephrine, which improves your brain function and mood. Just 37.5 milligrams of caffeine can heighten awareness, reaction time, and short-term memory.
Because metabolism is connected to the nervous system, caffeine may also increase metabolism by 11% and fat burning by 13%. Don’t rush off to Starbucks, though — study participants who drank the most coffee were just 0.8-1.1 lbs lighter by the end of a 12-year study.
That said, too much caffeine may trigger headaches. Typically, these headaches signal withdrawal — the brain’s blood vessels become accustomed to the effects of caffeine, and drastically reducing your caffeine consumption could cause headaches, anxiety, drowsiness, sudden tremors, and irritability.
Digestion and Circulation
Because caffeine increases the acidity in your stomach, it could cause heartburn or digestion problems. Any caffeine your body considers “extra” is flushed through your liver and urine, not stored for later use.
An hour or two after drinking caffeine, it will be at its highest levels in your bloodstream, which could cause your blood pressure to increase. This could heighten adrenaline or temporarily block hormones that widen your arteries. Typically, this is not a long-term effect. If your heartbeat is irregular, blood pressure is already high, or heart has other problems, caffeine may make this condition worse.
Muscular and Skeletal
Too much caffeine may reduce your body’s absorption and digestion of calcium, eventually causing osteoporosis or muscle twitching. If you decrease your caffeine intake and notice achy muscles, this is another withdrawal symptom.
Caffeine helps the gluces in your muscles last longer, which could keep your muscles stimulated for longer periods of time when you exercise. This improves muscle contractors, endurance, and tolerance of fatigue. When study participants consumed 2.3 milligrams of caffeine per pound of their body weight an hour before exercising, their endurance performance improved by 5%.
If you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant, caffeine could increase your baby’s heart rate and metabolism. Caffeine circulates in your body’s bloodstream, which carries it into the placenta and stimulates the baby. Too much caffeine could increase your risk of miscarraige or slow the baby’s growth, disrupt estrogen production, and make it more difficult to conceive. Experts recommend limite caffeine to 200 or 300 milligrams each day if you want to get pregnant.
The bottom line is about listening to our bodies. Caffeine will make us feel energetic, but too much of it may could cause withdrawal symptoms, anxiety, insomnia, tremors, adrenal burnout, and more. Caffeine is addictive, and people may become addicted to it. Medical experts report that most healthy adults can safely have up to 400 milligrams of caffeine each day. The standard mug holds 16 ounces or more — carefully read labels to guarantee you’re not drinking too much caffeine. Over time, if you drink the same amount of coffee or tea each day, your body will tolerate it, and you’ll find yourself wanting more. If this happens, it’s better to slowly decrease how much caffeine you drink, not increase it for more effects.
At Nature’s Trail Wellness Center, we recommend using dark roasted, organic coffee in a French press. This enhances the digestive bitters, acids, and other positive attributes of the coffee.