Caffeine: More Harmful Than You Think

OsteoporosisIf you are like 80% of the adult population then you consume caffeine in one form or another.   Although you are probably well aware that too much caffeine can cause temporary, undesirable side-effects such as restlessness or an inability to fall asleep, you may not be aware that the effects of caffeine are not always so short-lived or benign.  So before you reach for that morning coffee, afternoon soda or nightly energy drink, consider the following ill-health effects of caffeine consumption.

Immediate Effects You May Not Be Aware Of

Regular caffeine consumption can deplete vitamin C, as well as all of the B-vitamins in your body.  It can also prevent the absorption of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron, states Holistic Nutritionist Danielle Perrault in her book “Nutritional Symptomatology.”    In addition, caffeine can increase your blood pressure, dehydrate you, make you feel anxious, cause hypoglycemia, increase irritability and cause irregular heartbeat. Caffeine can also cause headaches and migraines and worsen both acid reflux and stomach ulcers.

Caffeine and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that results in a loss of bone density and a thinning of bone tissue, and consequently a greater risk for bone fractures. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, caffeine measurably increases urinary calcium loss. This is problematic because calcium is a vital mineral for the maintenance of strong and healthy bones.  In addition, a study published in the Journal of Orthopedic Surgery and Research, found that the regular consumption of caffeine can lead to measurable bone mineral density loss, especially amongst elderly individuals.

Caffeine and Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by chronic, high blood sugar levels. According to a study The Journal of Caffeine Research, there is a growing body of evidence linking caffeine consumption to both the development and progression of Type 2 Diabetes.  Specifically, studies have found that caffeine raises blood sugar levels in diabetic individuals, leading to a worsening of their condition and also a greater difficulty in controlling their symptoms. Studies also show that caffeine reduces a healthy individual’s ability to properly regulate blood sugar levels. Due to this effect, chronic, excessive caffeine intake increases a healthy individual’s likelihood to develop diabetes.

How to Get Over Your Caffeine Addiction

If you are otherwise healthy, but you rely on caffeine in order to energize you and get you through the day, it is a clear sign of either inadequate sleep or weakened adrenal glands. The solution to the former is obvious, but the latter is a little more complicated.

The adrenal glands secrete a variety of hormones and are responsible for how well your body deals with stress. They can easily become exhausted when you experience too much mental, physical or emotional stress. Some common symptoms of adrenal exhaustion include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, insomnia, irritability, an inability to concentrate, food cravings and depression.  Caffeine can temporarily mask these symptoms, however once the immediate boost has worn off, your adrenal glands are left further deteriorated. This ultimately leads to a worsening of symptoms. So instead of turning to caffeine for a temporary fix, concentrate on strengthening your adrenal glands.

Strengthening Your Adrenal Glands

Moderate exercise, meditation, a whole foods diet and the avoidance of alcohol, sugars, refined carbohydrates and sweets will all support healthy adrenal gland function, states Phyllis Balch in her book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.”

Ironically enough, the two most important nutrients for adrenal gland health are vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins – the very nutrients that caffeine depletes.  So, if despite lifestyle modifications you still miss that instant pick-me-up that caffeinated beverages used to give you, consider supplementing with these energy boosting and adrenal supporting vitamins instead.