I recently realized I am nothing without coffee. That’s a hard pill to swallow being that I am so anti-drug and into real, real, real. Handle the pain of life without any life-lines or methods of escapism. Of course, I judge myself lightly. I make great excuses for my habit. Coffee doesn’t kill brain cells (or does it?). Coffee doesn’t cause miscarriage and birth-defects (well…miscarriages yes). Coffee doesn’t change my brain or my way of thinking (hmmm…when I don’t have it I can’t hold a conversation longer than 3 minutes and quite frankly, I have no motivation to do anything without it. Not to mention that one double-espresso at the right time of day can turn me into a Super Hero.)
But, despite not causing hallucinations or leading me to believe I can fly or that the walls are moving, coffeeis a drug. A powerful one. Possibly a dangerous one.
“Within five minutes after you drink your morning coffee, the caffeine begins to stimulate your central nervous system, triggering the release of stress hormones in your body, causing a stress (“fight or flight” ) response. The stress hormones are useful if you need to prepare yourself to fight or flee a dangerous situation, but if you are simply sitting at your desk you may feel a short charge of alertness, quickly followed by feelings of agitation. Within the next hour or so, after the stress response dissipates, you will probably feel more tired and hungry. At these low-energy times, many people reach for another cup of coffee, or eat a snack that is often high in sugar to “pep up” and stay alert. However, both caffeine and sugar only give you temporary feelings of increased energy, which quickly dissipate. For some people, this cycle of low energy followed by an infusion of caffeine or food continues the entire day — leaving them feeling exhausted and unable to focus by 3:00 p.m. because they are drained from the ups and downs in energy their body endured throughout the day.”
Active Wellness By Gayle Reichler MS RD CDN, page 12
According to Stephen Cherniske MS in his book Caffeine Blues, “‘Caffeinism’ is a state of chronic toxicity resulting from excess caffeine consumption. Caffeinism usually combines physical addiction with a wide range of debilitating effects, most notably anxiety, irritability, mood swings, sleep disturbance, depression, and fatigue.” Of course, this leads to the paradox of thinking you are increasing your energy when in actuality you are depleting your natural energy stores.
Coffee has been associated with, among the above listed issues, miscarriage, psychological affects such as hyperesthesia, ulcers, gastric problems, hyperactivity, heart palpitations and adrenal exhaustion. (http://www.garynull.com/documents/CaffeineEffects.htm).
So, that being said, you might want to re-think that morning cup of joe and switch to decaf. I know I’ve been brewing the idea for quite some time. And if it weren’t for my pesky addictive behavior, I just might be able to brave the world without that hit of escapism.