Many times during massage therapy we see our clients willing to take control over their well-being. One good first step is to start reducing stress levels which in our current lifestyles we have plenty of. Of course we want to help, and one way to do so is to help you make up your mind about some of your habits that may have contributed to your tensions and discomfort.
We wrote three articles on this topic. The first part will help you to become aware of the facts about caffeine and coffee drinking habits, the second part will show you how to test your own caffeine situation and in the the third part will share with you what else is there that you can do to keep performing without jeopardizing
your own health.
What does and doesn’t caffeine do for you?
Caffeine definitely does not give you energy because it does not contain any energy. It also does not stimulate your brain activity and the nervous system, as it used to be believed before. What it does is numbs your brain reflex that tells you that you are getting tired. This reflex, thanks to the molecules called adenosine tells us that we are running out of energy and need some rest to recharge our battery.
Caffeine masks this signal, hence masks feelings of tiredness and allows us to continue on our energetic reserves. We may be often in situations when we wish to momentarily suppress our tiredness, but consistent ignorance of our body’s needs has negative consequences on our health.
Health aspects of caffeine and coffee
- Coffee causes temporary increase of blood pressure by narrowing down blood vessels and increasing frequency of heart rate
- 4 cups of coffee not only increase the blood pressure, but coffee also increases concentration of adrenaline ( one of the stress hormones) in the blood of about 32 %
- Some studies found that coffee during physical activity restricts flow of blood through the heart ( 2 cups of about 36% !). This is very unwanted effect, especially for people with heart condition and those who take medicine to decrease cholesterol.
- Coffee consumption increases levels of homocysteine in the blood, which is toxic and today known to be a risk factor in atherosclerosis and Alzheimer disease.
- Consumption of coffee causes sleep dysfunction and there is all range of consequences to not sleeping well, such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis or lower immunity.
- Coffee contains compounds that inhibit absorption of important nutrients, such as iron and zinc.
- We all know that coffee has diuretic effect, it dehydrates us. Therefore, if you drink coffee, it is important to pay attention to your daily water intake.
- Some studies claim that coffee protects us from type 2 diabetes. Given the other health risks coffee poses, it is not recommended to start drinking it for the purpose of diabetes prevention. First of all, the effect is very small ( about 13%) and secondly, there are other healthier ways to prevent diabetes with no risks involved (for example with consumption of oatmeal).
Influence of caffeine on your brain
- Caffeine increases your alertness and response time
- Caffeine doesn’t increase your knowledge nor IQ. If you didn’t know something before, no amount of coffee will put new knowledge in your head.
- Caffeine doesn’t have stimulative effect on the higher functions of your nervous system (you will not learn easier, nor judge better what is right or wrong).
How to consume caffeine during the day?
Scientists generally consider consumption of caffeine as suitable only for people in extreme conditions. This is recommended accordingly:
- Do not drink coffee just after you woke up. Adenosine (the tiredness hormone) is not present in the brain, so there is nothing to be masked. (If you are not able to start the day without coffee, it is a sign of coffee addiction and you are experiencing a withdrawal effect.)
- Start taking coffee or caffeine in the afternoon in small doses (half a cup) every hour and stop 8 hours before you go to sleep.
Influence of caffeine on mood and emotions
Coffee and caffeine can cause tension, irritability, aggression and feelings of panic. If you experience any of these, you are recommended to completely avoid consumption of coffee.
Your genes decide if the coffee bites into your heart
There are 2 types of coffee drinkers, slow and fast metabolizator. It depends on which enzyme your liver produces. One form of enzyme breaks and helps to eliminate the caffeine much faster than the other form. This determines if the coffee indulging habit can end up with the heart attack. People who metabolize caffeine slowly have increased risk of heart attack with the higher coffee consumption.
Remember, caffeine is not present only in coffee. We can find caffeine also in non-prescription drugs and medication as well as in other foods and drinks.
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