Most of the people are in the habit of drinking coffee. Caffeine in coffee acts as a nervous stimulant which increases alertness and reduces fatigue.(1)
What Happens To The Body When You Quit Coffee?
If you are an avid coffee addict and you are asked to bring down the counting of the cups per day, or actually quit drinking coffee here is what your body has to deal with:
- Headache: This is the most common symptom seen after coffee withdrawal. Caffeine causes the blood vessels in the brain to constrict. A study shows that just 250 mg of caffeine can reduce cerebral blood flow by 27%.(2) Reducing the consumption or quitting coffee can lead to the blood vessels to expand and increase the flow of blood to the brain. This change in blood flow causes headache which may vary in length and severity in different people. Caffeine is known to enhance the power of certain pain-relieving medications, and also relieve headache on its own.(3)
- Anxiety: Consuming coffee cause feeling of anxiousness, cutting down the consumption can give the same effects. Caffeine acts as a stimulant and increases the heart rate, blood pressure, cortisol (a stress hormone), and epinephrine. The body mentally and physically becomes dependant on it, withdrawing it can bring on anxiety.
- Fatigued feeling: Caffeine blocks receptors of adenosine (a neurotransmitter). Adenosine can make you feel drowsy.(4) Caffeine is also known to enhance energy and improve athletic performance. Withdrawing it can bring on fatigue and drowsiness. Excessive intake and dependence on coffee can worsen the withdrawal symptoms.
- Difficult concentration: Most people drink coffee to boost concentration and improve focus. Caffeine increases the level of adrenalin and also boosts neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.(5) This increases the heart rate and blood pressure and increases alertness and improves focus. Quitting coffee can bring about a problem in concentrating on tasks and their accuracy.
- Depressed mood: Caffeine is well known for its ability to enhance mood. It blocks adenosine, helps increase alertness and enhance mood. A study done on people who consumed caffeine daily around 0.68mg per body weight led to a more positive mood and enhanced performance in fatigued volunteers(6). It is known to reduce the risk of depression.
- Irritability: People who drink coffee are used to its mood enhancing effects, as well as the energy boosting power. Giving up on coffee makes them irritable and moody. A study conducted on withdrawal of coffee on few caffeine-dependant adults proved that they were unsuccessful in their effort to withdraw it, due to irritability and anger.(7)
- Tremors: This is not a common symptom, but is seen occurring as a withdrawal symptom in the people who consume a lot of coffee. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, and taking it in excess leads to anxiety, shaky hands, and jittery feeling.(8) Tremors related to caffeine withdrawal last for 2-9 days. If they extend beyond, do consult for a proper diagnosis.
- Low energy: When anyone feels low on energy, sleepy, or stressed, they just look out for a caffeine punch. Caffeinated beverages boost energy levels, increase heart rate, blood sugar, and give a feeling of mental and physical energy. Dependency on caffeinated beverages, cause the need for more and more caffeine for an energy boost.(9)
- Constipation: Caffeine keeps the intestine moving, which stops when you stop drinking your regular cup.
But it can be managed well by other means. At least this factor should not keep you away from reducing the heavy caffeine intake.
Addiction to anything is bad. If you are a real coffee addict, you should try to bring down the level slowly, keep yourself hydrated, and get enough sleep. This will help you deal with the withdrawal symptoms. Also, try and boost your energy levels naturally.
The withdrawal symptoms are just a small hurdle which if you pass by will really be helpful in limiting your dependency.
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