7 Powerful Reasons to Quit Caffeine Right Now
Caffeine is a drug and its effects on the body are intense, immediate, and can be quite useful in one-off scenarios (i.e. sharpened focus, quick thinking, and multi-tasking are all boosted for an hour or so after consuming caffeine). But these superpowers come at a cost and are completely diminished with habitual use.
The following are the 7 most powerful reasons to quit caffeine and why you should QUIT RIGHT NOW:
1. Your Sleep is Compromised
Caffeine can completely decimate a good night's sleep. Fresh linen, soft lighting, screen-free reading and lavender oil are weak against caffeine's powers of sleep disruption.
The caffeine molecule readily crosses the blood brain barrier where it antagonizes a major sleep-producing chemical, adenosine. Recent studies show that sleep is affected no matter what time of day you consume caffeine – zero, three, six hours , and even eight hours  prior to bedtime all had negative effects on sleep quality. It's a myth that taking caffeine in the morning safe-guards against sleep disruption.
Quitting caffeine will allow your circadian rhythms to fall back into their natural pattern so you can feel sleepy after sunset and energized as the sun comes up .
But caffeine doesn't just affect your sleep/wake cycle – its affects can percolate into your dreams like a Freddy Kruger nightmare.
Brains on caffeine have a hard time switching off and relaxing into deep sleep states, often causing parasomnias (weird stuff that happens during sleep) including bad dreams and hypnic jerks  . With neurons firing all night, chances are you'll feel groggy when you wake up – and the quickest fix for that is more caffeine, right? Break the cycle and do some aerobic exercise instead – studies have shown that a brief bout of low-to-moderate intensity stair-walking could wake you up even more than a hit of caffeine .
2. Caffeine is Causing You Stress and Anxiety
It's not news that caffeine can stress you out. Within 45 minutes of consumption, 99% of caffeine is absorbed through the membranes of the mouth, throat and stomach. For the next 5 – 6 hours, it works its effects on the body.
In particular, caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands to release stress hormones including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline gives you a temporary lift in energy that then flat-lines into fatigue and low mood; cortisol on the other hand doesn't give any kind of “buzz” – but it pumps through the body for much longer and can promote feelings of being on-edge, irritable, and jittery. If adrenaline is our “flight or flight” response to being chased by a lion the jungle, then cortisol is the longer-lasting paranoia about where the lion will appear next. It has numerous negative effects on the body (we'll get to those), but in the brain cortisol interferes with access of long-term and short-term memories, and can impair learning and the creation of new neural connections .
Caffeine also gives a short-term boost to the feel-good hormone, dopamine, which gives the feeling of a caffeine “high”. After caffeine wears off, hormones begin to realign. This see-saw effect ends in a crash characterised by stress, foggy-headedness, difficulty being productive, and having a hard time learning. For long-term caffeine consumers, the crash can be subtle as this muddled-brain stressful mood becomes your norm.
Don't worry, it's not all bad news.
The body is resilient and in most cases hormones will rebalance themselves after 3-10 days of no caffeine, restoring your clear thinking, positive outlook and access to memories.
3. You're Gaining Unwanted Weight
Weight loss and muscle gain can both be improved by giving up caffeine. There is research to suggest that short-term consumption of particular caffeinated drinks may promote weight loss, but there is a lack of long-term studies set in the real world . Here's the science:
While it's true that caffeine is a short-term metabolism booster for the caffeine niave, it also increases the secretion of the stress hormone cortisol – yep, the same way that messes with your mood and memory. Cortisol hangs around for a lot longer than the quick metabolism boost and has long-term effects on blood sugar regulation, insulin resistance and fat storage. In fact, elevated cortisol levels are linked to metabolic syndrome, obesity and diabetes .
Compared to other areas of the body, fat cells in the abdominal region and around the internal organs have more receptors for cortisol. When cortisol levels are high (i.e. for 18 hours after you've consuming caffeine), fat storage in these areas is up-regulated, Taste perception of sugar is also altered under caffeine's influence, resulting in greater intake of higher calorie foods and more likelihood of storing fat . Caffeine-triggered cortisol also signals the body to pull glucose from tissue which can cause a breakdown in muscle. All of this adds up to a picture of increased fat storage and muscle loss.
Quit caffeine to restore your cortisol levels to a natural state, balance your metabolism, slim your waist line, and reset your taste buds.
4. Caffeine Causes Dehydration
Not to be vulgar, but drinking caffeine can make you feel like you have the bladder of a small child. Regular trips to the bathroom are inconvenient and quitting caffeine will give you more time to actually enjoy life.
Researchers aren't certain why caffeine causes frequent and prolific trips to the bathroom, but they have some ideas. Caffeine competes with a natural chemical, adenosine – you got it, the same adenosine that we need for sleep. Adenosine is also used in the kidneys where it controls renal output – the process where water and minerals are released by the kidneys into the urinary tract. Caffeine antagonizes this process, bringing total anarchy to the kidneys. Water, salts and minerals are released willy-nilly, and the urge to pee is activated . This also leads to dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes in the body which can cause feelings of fatigue, changes to appetite, headaches, and dry skin. Caffeine can also exacerbate urinary tract infections and flair-ups of interstitial cystitis [12a] [12b].
Keep your liquids in and caffeine out!
5. Unbalanced Gut Health
If you've been sleeping on the hype about the microbiome, let us bring you up to speed – microbes living in the human colon can be “beneficial” or “pathogenic”. Beneficial gut bugs (“probiotics”) help to regulate bowel movements, promote healthy intestines, reduce bloating, synthesize nutrients, support the immune system and promote happy, calm moods.
When pathogenic bad gut bugs overrun the colon, they cause bloating, gas, inflammation, fatigue, moodiness, immune dysfunction, and pain. Guess what kills off the good bugs and feeds the bad guys? Caffeine, cortisol, and toxins released from the liver during the metabolism of caffeine .
It gets worse. If you haven't heard of leaky gut, here's the 101 – the intestines are lined with a tight membrane that regulates the movement of substances in and out of the bloodstream and colon. When the space between the cells of this membrane becomes stretched, this control goes out the window and substances can flow in and out of the body unregulated. This is called “leaky gut” and can cause issues of constipation, diarrhoea, IBS symptoms, autoimmune flare ups, headaches, migraines, sluggishness and inflammation throughout the body.
The strongest probiotics in the world wouldn't survive with a diet of caffeine. Quit caffeine, restore your microbiota and say goodbye to gut problems!
6. You're Aging Your Skin
Topically applied caffeine can tighten the skin and protect against UV radiation, but taken internally caffeine sucks the glow out of your skin in two major ways: it dehydrates the skin, and cortisol messes up the skin's oil production. Taking your caffeine with sugar or dairy promotes extra sebum production in the skin which can clog pores, create blocks of dead skin cells, and contribute to acne and blackheads . Yikes.
Caffeine reduces the synthesis of collagen and can have an adverse affects on wound healing and ageing  – this means it takes longer for acne spots to heal, and wrinkles develop earlier and deeper. Whole-body effects of caffeine also contribute to problematic skin – poor sleep, stress and an upset microbiome all cause premature ageing, acne, dry skin, psoriasis and dermatitis. Anecdotal evidence suggests that skin problems can clear up within 3 weeks of quitting caffeine. Get your glow back!
7. Caffeine Increases Risk of Major Diseases
Caffeine hasn't been shown to cause any serious health conditions but long-term consumption has been identified as a risk factor for a few big ones.
Osteoporosis – Caffeine interferes with the absorption and metabolism of nutrients needed for healthy bone density such as calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and manganese .
Cancer – There's no consensus about cancer, but some major studies have found a correlation between caffeine consumption and colon cancer and bladder cancer  .
Cardiovascular disease – Studies are conflicted as to whether caffeine increases the risk of heart disease. What we know for sure is that it can temporarily increase blood pressure, stimulate the kidneys and increase dehydration, and release fatty acids from adipose tissue – all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Why risk it?
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