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Caffeine is a substance belonging to the group of xanthines that has stimulating properties. In moderate amounts it can be beneficial, but abusing it is harmful to health and can create addiction.
There are many people who seem unable to start their day without a good dose of caffeine in a vein. It seems that this substance, present in various foods and drinks, allows us to get out of the lethargy from the early hours of the morning. That is why it can be highly addictive. Yes, you read correctly, addictive.
Before you get alarmed, it should be noted that coffee addiction is not comparable to the hooking produced by other types of drugs. However, it is true that relying on a substance to feel good is not the most beneficial for health. In fact, those who usually consume high amounts of caffeine daily often experience symptoms of discomfort if they try to abandon it: tiredness, headache and even irritability.
Although caffeine is always associated with coffee, one of the most consumed drinks around the world, the truth is that it is present in many other products. Examples of this are teas, cola or chocolate. Of course, it is not about demonizing this substance and completely removing it from our lives.
The truth is that caffeine can provide us, consumed in moderation, benefits such as:
- increased performance and concentration,
- increased blood oxygenation,
- acceleration of thermogenesis (contributes to burning body fat) or a lower risk of developing diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Since it is important to consume caffeine within limits in order to be able to squeeze its benefits, in this article we are going to talk about caffeine addiction, what signs characterize it and how to reduce consumption when it is excessive.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a bitter substance belonging to the group of xanthines. It is characterized by its stimulating effects on the central nervous system, as well as its vasodilator and diuretic properties.
Caffeine is naturally present in many plants, although as a general rule it is also artificially synthesized to make industrial products. The foods that contain it in the greatest proportion are coffee, tea, chocolate, some soft drinks such as cola or energy drinks and mate. For example, a cup of coffee contains about 80-200 mg of caffeine, while a can of cola can hold between 20-45 mg.
Caffeine consumption is widespread in the world, especially in countries such as Spain. Although it is not a dangerous substance, the truth is that its use is contraindicated in certain people. Pregnant women should not consume it, as it can pass to the baby through the placenta.
Likewise, during breastfeeding it should be excluded from the diet, otherwise it can be transferred to the baby through breast milk. It is also not advisable to consume it in those who suffer from sleep problems, migraines, anxiety, ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux or high blood pressure.
Your use should be monitored when medications or supplements are being taken, such as antibiotics or drugs for the treatment of asthma or heart problems. In these cases, the reference doctor should assess whether its consumption may involve risks for the patient. Finally, children and adolescents should take minimal amounts of caffeine, since they show a much greater sensitivity to their effects than adults.
For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) considers that a consumption of caffeine of 500 mg or more per day is excessive. Since it is found among the substances considered psychostimulant, it is susceptible to dependence and abstinence. People who use it abusively can develop what is known as caffeine, an intoxication that causes very unpleasant physical and mental symptoms and that generates effects similar to those of overdose of other stimulant drugs.
8 signs that you are addicted to caffeine
The truth is that a person is really aware of the intensity of his addiction when he tries to limit his caffeine consumption. In cases where this substance is ingested in high quantities, it is common for obvious signs to appear when the dose is reduced. Among the most common symptoms of caffeine addiction, we can find:
Stopping caffeine can cause symptoms as annoying as headaches. The good news is that this one won't last too long, so it will probably disappear after a couple of days. The reason for this discomfort is that your brain has dilated blood vessels, waiting for its long-awaited dose of caffeine. If it does not arrive, your nerve endings may "comm" and cause this pain.
Stopping caffeine after excessive caffeine can lead to tiredness and a lot of fatigue. The surge of energy that your body experiences when it receives its dose contrasts with the weakness of abstinence, in which muscle strength, endurance and general disposition may be compromised.
When we consume caffeine we feel activated, alert, with all our senses more sensitive than ever. However, when you decide to abandon this substance after having resorted to it intensely, it is likely that your alertness will be drastically reduced. Thus, it is normal for a few days to feel somewhat cloudy and with greater difficulty being attentive, until your body manages to adapt to the fact of not receiving its dose of caffeine.
One of the most valued effects of caffeine is its ability to wake up when we are asleep, especially first thing in the morning. Therefore, when we remove the usual amount of caffeine from our body, it is natural for it to respond in the opposite way, with a very accentuated drowsiness that will make you want to sleep at all hours. Fortunately, after a few days, it is expected that your body will adapt to the new situation and be able to stay awake without the need for any substance.
Another typical symptom of any withdrawal syndrome is irritability. The price to pay for reducing our dose of caffeine is the impact on our mood. Thus, by limiting the amount of this substance, it is common for our nervous system to be deactivated, which can cause apathy, sadness and bad mood. As with all withdrawal symptoms, this one has a temporary duration, although it can be annoying to feel that our mood changes abruptly.
6. Concentration problems
When we abuse caffeine, we can feel that we are able to maintain concentration for a long time. We feel mentally agile, more ingenious and creative, with a much more pronounced ability to think in an abstract way.
On the other hand, limiting the use of caffeine can slow down our cognitive functioning and reduce our ability to concentrate on even the most routine tasks. The drop in the levels of some neurotransmitters such as adrenaline or dopamine can be especially hard if you are a student or in a profession that requires high mental effort.
Abandoning an addictive substance such as caffeine can make you feel a little more nervous than normal. You will find something restless and with a very characteristic background tension. Your body is claiming that something that allows it to activate quickly, so it is natural that you feel this way the first few days.
8. Other physical symptoms
Although each organism is different and not everyone experiences exactly the same symptoms, many people can feel a wide variety of annoying physical signals, such as digestive discomfort, muscle stiffness, cramps or low blood pressure. In general, it is common for our body to manifest symptoms during abstinence contrary to those that are associated with the effect of caffeine on the body.
How to reduce caffeine consumption?
If you want to abandon caffeine because you think you are abusing it, and you are afraid of experiencing all these effects, you should know that the ideal is to abandon it progressively. It is not recommended to stop drinking it abruptly, especially if you use it up to several times a day. On the one hand, because caffeine itself is not bad, it can give us positive effects if consumed in moderation.
On the other hand, because stopping its use abruptly can trigger very intense symptoms and cause a lot of discomfort. Although unlike other drugs, caffeine withdrawal is not dangerous, the ideal is always to abandon it little by little to limit its harmful effects as much as possible. Therefore, you can start by having one cup less coffee, drinking smaller cups or trying the decaffeinated alternatives.
Of course, as I have already mentioned, caffeine is found in many other drinks and products beyond coffee. Therefore, it is interesting that you can identify those foods you eat, and they may contain it without you knowing it. Check the labels and try to reduce consumption to healthy limits.
In this article, we have talked about caffeine addiction and the signs that make it possible to identify it. Caffeine is a substance belonging to the group of xanthines that, consumed in moderation, can give us beneficial health effects.
However, abusing it can be harmful. When abandoning it or reducing the dose, it is common for our body to suffer from withdrawal symptoms that indicate that, in fact, we have become addicted to caffeine.
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