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Why Drinking Coffee Might Be Fueling Your Anxiety

You already know that too much caffeine can bring on the jitters. Sip a second espresso after dinner, and you’re bound to feel a bit on edge. But could that 3 p.m. soy latte actually be messing with your mental health? If you struggle with anxiety, the answer may be yes.

“Overall, caffeine is often bad news for people with anxiety,” says Susan Bowling, PsyD, a psychologist at the Women’s Health Center at the Wooster Branch of Cleveland Clinic. That’s because the powerful stimulant naturally found in coffee beans jump-starts anxiety by speeding up bodily functions.

“The natural effects of caffeine stimulate a host of sensations, such as your heart beating faster, your body heating up, your breathing rate increasing—all things that mimic anxiety,” Bowling tells Health. “Psychologically, it’s difficult for your mind to recognize that this is not anxiety because it feels the same.” Restlessness, nervousness, headaches, sweating, insomnia, and ringing in the ears are other common signs of caffeine-triggered anxiety.

RELATED: 11 Real People on How They Deal With Anxiety

According to Bowling, some studies show that consuming more than 200 mg of caffeine (about the amount in just two cups of coffee) can increase the likelihood of anxiety and panic attacks in people sensitive to it. It is so powerful that “caffeine-induced anxiety disorder” is a subclass in the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, she adds.

Yet caffeine, which is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world, doesn’t affect us all the same way. The reason? “In part, it is the way your body is wired,” says Bowling. “Some people can handle a little caffeine and others are very sensitive to it. It’s based primarily on your genetics.” People who are sensitive to the effects of caffeine may simply metabolize it more quickly than others, for example.

If you’re prone to post-coffee anxious feelings, regular caffeine consumption can set you up in a vicious cycle. “ one has an anxiety attack, can’t sleep at night due to the caffeine-induced anxiety, feels very low energy in the morning, then drinks coffee to wake up…and then starts the cycle over again,” says Bowling.

Could your morning joe be behind your anxiety? There are ways to tell. Bowling suggests doing a mini-observational study on yourself to find out.

RELATED: Is Cold Brew as Healthy as Regular Coffee?

“Keep a journal of the impact of caffeine for a week,” says Bowling. Aside from counting every cappuccino and latte you sip, track other sneaky sources of caffeine you might consume, such as decaf coffee (yep, even decaf has a little caffeine), cola, chocolate, OTC pain medication, energy drinks, and infused mints or snacks. The next week, eliminate all caffeine while keeping the rest of your diet and activities the same. “For people who have anxiety, they often notice an improvement in their anxiety levels,” she says.

What if you don’t struggle with anxiety—should you still cut back on caffeinated coffee or tea for the sake of your mental health? Not necessary, says Lauren Slayton, RDN, nutritionist and founder of the private practice Foodtrainers in New York City. “It’s a question of dosage,” explains Slayton. “Coffee absolutely picks you up, and it improves cognition and athletic performance. too much of most things backfires.”

While there’s no one size fits all approach to caffeine consumption, experts suggest sipping coffee in moderation to reap the beverage’s purported health benefits, which include a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. ”We recommend one or two cups of coffee per day max, with no crappy sweeteners or creamers,” says Slayton.

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Does Coffee Actually Cause Anxiety? 

Caffeine is a psychoactive drug that, according to research, can cause or enhance anxiety and other stress-related signs and symptoms in several ways. While the aroma, the taste, the routine, the warmth of the cup in your hands, and the feeling you get when you take your first sip in the morning may be cause for celebration, for some too much of a good thing can cause problems.

Even those with a high tolerance for caffeine (AKA everyone who drinks Death Wish) can experience these things if they’re not careful about their consumption. Here are a few of many ways that caffeine is linked to anxiety according to Be Brain Fit, and what you can do to combat it.

  1. Caffeine increases stress hormones.

Most people with anxiety would agree that they have a lot of weight on their shoulders. Caffeine adds to the burden. Similar to stress, caffeine increases heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of stress hormones. Caffeine -consumption can more than double your blood levels of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine.

  1. Caffeine affects neurotransmitter balance.

Caffeine often gives us a desirable feeling- increased motivation, productivity, and brain power. This is a result of increasing brain chemicals dopamine and acetylcholine. However, caffeine hinders the calming neurotransmitter GABA, which puts the brain activity on hold when needed. GABA is married to happiness and relaxation, so it’s no surprise that having a low GABA level can lead to anxiety and panic attacks.

  1. Caffeine causes insomnia.

If your mind is stuck in a never-ending marathon at night time, caffeine can contribute to this problem. Caffeine-induced sleep disorder is actually a recognized psychiatric disorder. Getting good sleep is essential to our brains since this is when metabolic debris and toxins are washed away and repaired into new brain cells. It’s important to keep in mind that any caffeine you consume, even 6 hours prior to bedtime can significantly disrupt your sleep.

  1. Caffeine is linked to psychiatric disorders.

Enough caffeine can create symptoms of anxiety in a healthy person that are indistinguishable from those experienced by anxiety disorder sufferers. Caffeine has also been linked to mental disorders including anxiety, panic and depression, as well as sleep and eating disorders. Fact: In 1987, it was recommended that decaffeinated beverages should be provided in psychiatric wards. Taking schizophrenic patients off caffeine has actually been proven to help their anxiety, irritability, and hostility.

  1. Caffeine can increase anxiety when taken with many medications.

Caffeine is often consumed out of habit, making it an immense part of our daily life. That being said, it sometimes slips our mind that it’s a psychoactive drug and therefore, doesn’t mix well with other drugs. Check out drugs.com for a list of over 80 medications that should not be taken alongside caffeine. It is often added to over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers to make them more effective, however, consequently increases the number of side effects in asthma medications, antidepressants, and some antibiotics.

It’s no secret that coffee is a staple in many lives. In this case, looks, scents, and tastes can all be considered deceiving if you aren’t listening to your body and giving it the essential nutrients it needs. If you’re someone who deals with anxiety, you may want to try a more natural form of caffeine, such as green tea. I would recommend sticking to one coffee a day, but if you give a human a coffee, chances are, they’re going to want another.

Related: Here’s The Real Reason Coffee Makes You Poop

Watch this video:

Caffeine is a psychoactive drug that can cause or exacerbate anxiety and other stress-related signs and symptoms in many ways. Learn what you can do.

What You’ll Learn Here

If you have an anxiety disorder, and you’re concerned that caffeine is making it worse, your suspicions are probably correct.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that can significantly contribute to anxiety disorders. (1)

There’s evidence that quitting caffeine can be even more beneficial for anxiety than taking prescription anti-anxiety drugs!

Here are 15 ways that caffeine is linked to anxiety … and what you can do about it.

1. Caffeine Increases Stress Hormones

Most people with anxiety would agree that they have too much stress in their lives — and caffeine adds to the burden.

Caffeine affects the body much like stress by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of stress hormones.

Caffeine consumption can more than double your blood levels of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. (2, 3)

2. Caffeine Affects Neurotransmitter Balance

Caffeine achieves many of its effects by blocking the activity of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel sleepy and tired.

By increasing the brain chemicals dopamine and acetylcholine, caffeine imparts the feelings we desire — increased motivation, productivity, and brain power. (4, 5)

But for those with anxiety, there is a downside.

Caffeine also inhibits the calming neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). (6)

GABA slows brain activity when needed and has been called “nature’s Valium.”

It’s essential for feeling happy and relaxed, so it’s not surprising that a low GABA level is associated with anxiety and panic attacks.

Related on Be Brain Fit —
GABA Supplements for Stress and Anxiety (& which work best)

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter tied closely to happiness.

The relationship between caffeine and serotonin is complex.

Caffeine consumption initially increases serotonin, but there’s evidence that when consumed regularly caffeine may eventually lead to serotonin depletion. (7, 8)

3. Caffeine Causes Insomnia

One of the most common side effects of both anxiety and caffeine consumption is insomnia.

In fact, caffeine-induced sleep disorder is a recognized psychiatric disorder. (9)

If anxious thoughts make you restless at night, caffeine can compound the problem.

Caffeine particularly decreases sleep stages 3 and 4 during which deep, restorative sleep takes place. (10)

Getting adequate high-quality sleep is one of the most important things you can do for brain health and mental well-being.

It’s during sleep that your brain washes away toxins and metabolic debris, repairs itself, consolidates memories, and creates new brain cells. (11, 12, 13)

Caffeine consumed even six hours before bedtime can significantly disrupt sleep, so you may find you need to cut off caffeine earlier than you thought. (14)

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4. You May Have Caffeine Sensitivity

We all know people who can drink a pot of coffee after dinner and sleep like a rock.

If you have anxiety, you probably aren’t one of them.

The difference may be in your genes.

Scientists from Harvard School of Public Health have found several genes that directly influence how your body metabolizes caffeine. (15)

You may be sensitive to caffeine because you take longer than average to metabolize it.

The average half-life of caffeine is 5-6 hours, but everyone is different and the time it can take to eliminate caffeine varies widely.

It can take as little as two to as many as ten hours after ingestion to metabolize half of it. (16)

Related on Be Brain Fit —
The Effects of Caffeine on Depression

And there are other reasons you may be sensitive to caffeine.

Caffeine sensitivity increases with age, so you might not be able to drink caffeine like you used to. (17)

Men metabolize caffeine more slowly which makes them more caffeine sensitive than most women, the exceptions being women who are pregnant or taking birth control pills. (18, 19)

Caffeine sensitivity can be caused by an allergic reaction to caffeine, although true caffeine allergy is rare. (20)

More common is an allergy to mycotoxins, toxins produced by fungi and mold that are found in coffee. (21)

You may be taking medications that increase the side effects of caffeine.

Drinking alcoholic beverages slows down caffeine breakdown.

So do some healthy foods such as grapefruit and broccoli. (22)

Impaired ability to process caffeine is not unusual in people with liver disease, especially cirrhosis. (23)

5. Caffeine May Aggravate Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia occurs when your blood sugar drops too low.

A low blood sugar attack can leave you feeling jittery, sweating, irritable, and confused, with a pounding heart — a lot like an anxiety attack.

Related on Be Brain Fit —
25 Proven Natural Remedies for Anxiety Relief

Caffeine stimulates the release of the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, causing blood sugar levels to drop. (24)

If you suspect that your low blood sugar is exacerbated by caffeine, try going without it and notice if you experience any improvement.

6. Medications Plus Caffeine Can Increase Anxiety

Caffeine is so much a part of our culture, it’s easy to forget that it’s a psychoactive drug and, consequently, doesn’t always mix well with other drugs.

Drugs.com currently lists nearly 50 medications that should not be taken with caffeine.

Sometimes caffeine enhances the effects of some drugs — it’s often added to over-the-counter painkillers to make them work better.

But this same property also increases the number of side effects as is the case with asthma medications, antidepressants, and some antibiotics. (25, 26)

Sometimes caffeine undermines the effectiveness of medications.

Anti-anxiety medications, sleeping pills, and lithium for bipolar disorder fall into this category.

Pharmacist Suzy Cohen reveals some alarming interactions between caffeine and prescription drugs in her book Drug Muggers: Which Medications Are Robbing Your Body of Essential Nutrients — and Natural Ways to Restore Them.

She reports that caffeine can cause tremors, panic attacks, and insomnia when taken with antidepressants that are SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors).

Caffeine should be avoided when taking breathing medications that contain the stimulant xanthine.

When taken together, they can cause anxiety as well as dangerous heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and arrhythmia.

When caffeine is used with ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin, it increases nervousness, irritability, insomnia, and heart rhythm abnormalities.

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7. Added Caffeine Is an Unregulated, Synthetic Chemical

Coffee and various teas, including green tea, matcha, and yerba mate, contain caffeine naturally.

But the caffeine found in sodas, energy drinks, energy gel packs, and caffeine pills and powders is rarely extracted from tea leaves or coffee grounds — that would be prohibitively expensive.

The demand for added caffeine has far outstripped natural caffeine production since World War II.

Added caffeine is synthetically manufactured in pharmaceutical plants from chemical precursors like urea and chloroacetic acid.

It is usually made in China or sometimes in India or Germany.

Journalist and self-proclaimed caffeine addict Murray Carpenter, author of Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us, traveled to China to check out the world’s largest caffeine plant while doing research for his book.

It was not the high-tech facility he imagined.

Here’s how he described the caffeine factory in his book:

“… half the windows were smashed, and rags streamed out. Bags of stockpiled chemicals sat inside the broken first-floor windows. The place reeked — a chemical stench to make you gag — and a tall rusty tank leaked a tarry sludge.“

He reveals that if you drink soda or energy drinks, you’ve almost certainly consumed caffeine produced there.

Lastly, don’t be impressed if you see the words “naturally caffeinated” on a product label.

Unscrupulous manufacturers ignore labeling requirements and use the synthetic version anyway. (27)

Natural and synthetic caffeine are technically identical, yet can be told apart by carbon dating. (28)

Synthetic caffeine registers as “older” since it’s made from fossil fuels.

Oddly, synthetic caffeine can exhibit another telltale sign — sometimes it glows. (29)

8. Too Much Caffeine Is Linked to Psychiatric Disorders

It’s been recognized for decades that the symptoms of too much caffeine are very similar to those of many psychiatric disorders.

Enough caffeine can even create symptoms of anxiety in a healthy person that are indistinguishable from those experienced by anxiety disorder sufferers.

Some psychiatrists recommend that routine psychiatric assessments should include examining caffeine consumption since removing caffeine can be more beneficial than prescribing an anti-anxiety drug.

Related on Be Brain Fit —
11 Benefits of Tapping for Anxiety Relief

Caffeine use has been linked to mental disorders of all kinds including anxiety, panic, depression, as well as sleep and eating disorders.

Taking schizophrenic patients off caffeine has improved their anxiety, irritability, and hostility. (30)

Some experts are so convinced that caffeine is problematic, they’ve recommended that decaffeinated beverages be provided on psychiatric wards. (31, 32)

9. Caffeine Causes at Least Four Recognized Mental Disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the American Psychiatric Association’s standard guide of mental disorders.

The most recent edition is the fifth version known as the DSM-5.

The DSM-5 now lists four caffeine-related disorders: (33)

  • caffeine intoxication
  • caffeine-induced anxiety disorder
  • caffeine-induced sleep disorder
  • caffeine withdrawal

The World Health Organization and many health care professionals recognize caffeine addiction as a clinical disorder.

For now, the preferred term is caffeine use disorder. (34)

It’s been included as a condition for further study in the DSM-5.

10. It’s Easier Than Ever to Overdo Caffeine Consumption

There are more sources of caffeine than ever before.

You expect to find it in coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola soda, but it’s also hidden in prescription drugs, over-the-counter painkillers, non-cola drinks, vitamin waters, brain tonics, and even in vitamins and herbal supplements. (35)

Caffeine is commonly added in so-called brain supplements, often as part of a proprietary blend which means the label won’t say how much it contains.

The amount of caffeine in energy drinks can be deceiving since some of the serving sizes of these drinks are so small.

5-Hour Energy Shot contains a jaw-dropping 100 mg of caffeine per ounce.

Another problem is that labels aren’t always accurate.

Sunkist orange soda lists 41 mg of caffeine on its label, but in fact was found to have almost six times as much caffeine at 240 mg per bottle. (36)

Caffeine’s effects are consistently underestimated, but here’s what escalating amounts of caffeine can do to you: (37)

  • 1/64 teaspoon will give you a subtle boost
  • 1/16 teaspoon (the amount in 12 oz of coffee) can lead to addiction
  • 1/4 teaspoon causes acute anxiety
  • 1 tablespoon is enough to kill an adult

It’s thought to be virtually impossible to drink yourself to death with naturally occurring caffeine.

But now pure caffeine pills and powder can easily and inexpensively be purchased online, making caffeine overdose a reality.

Sadly, there have been a few deaths caused by caffeine powder overdose. (38, 39)

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11. Caffeine Robs Your Brain of Essential Nutrients

Caffeine causes nutrients to be excreted from your body, some of which are particularly important for your brain health and mood.

One of the nutrients that gets depleted is magnesium, a mineral that has profound effects on your mental well-being. (40)

Magnesium plays a critical role in a number of brain-related disorders including: (41, 42, 43, 44)

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • addictions
  • ADHD
  • bipolar disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Related on Be Brain Fit —
8 Ways Magnesium Relieves Anxiety and Stress

Caffeine also robs you of the B complex vitamins, known as the “anti-stress vitamins.”

Anxiety is a common sign of B vitamin deficiency. (45)

Taking extra B vitamins can address imbalances of the brain chemicals GABA, serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine that contribute to anxiety. (46)

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12. Caffeine Can Make Your Brain Supplement Useless

When you are anxious, blood flow to the brain is already reduced and caffeine can reduce it further. (47)

Caffeine restricts blood flow to the brain by as much as 27%. (48)

Blood flow is the delivery system for getting nutrients of all kinds to your brain including oxygen, water, glucose, vitamins, and minerals.

Many people take brain supplements and nootropics like ginkgo, citicoline, curcumin, and vinpocetine to increase blood flow to the brain not realizing that the caffeine they drink is essentially neutralizing this effect.

Caffeine’s effects vary depending on how quickly you process it.

If you are pregnant or taking birth control pills it can take longer to process caffeine than usual, up to twice the usual half-life of four to five hours. (49, 50)

This means you’ll get double the boost and side effects from any caffeine you consume.

Caffeine also increases symptoms of menopause including anxiety, insomnia, hot flashes, bone loss (by leaching calcium), heart palpitations, and mood swings.

Likewise, caffeine can also worsen the anxiety, fatigue, and irritability experienced by women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

14. Caffeine Induces “Panic Attacks on Demand” for Scientific Research

It’s notoriously difficult to study panic attacks since you can’t get study subjects to experience them on demand.

Or can you?

Caffeine so reliably induces panic attacks that it’s used for that purpose in studies.

By giving participants with social anxiety disorder 480 mg of caffeine, 61% of them experienced caffeine-induced panic attacks. (51)

Researchers have also used caffeine to induce auditory hallucinations (i.e., hearing non-existent sounds) in test subjects. (52)

15. Caffeine Withdrawal Causes Anxiety

If you have anxiety, caffeine gets you coming and going.

Not only does it make you feel anxious when you drink it, it also makes you anxious when you quit drinking it!

Caffeine withdrawal is a recognized mental disorder. (53)

Related on Be Brain Fit —
If you’ve decided that eliminating caffeine would be a good idea, learn how to quit caffeine with minimal side effects in our article on caffeine addiction and withdrawal.

Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety as well as brain fog, depression, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, muscle aches, and nausea.

This may put you off trying to quit, but it’s still worth it since the worst of caffeine withdrawal usually lasts only a few days.

The Worst and Best Caffeinated Drinks If You Have Anxiety

Not all sources of caffeine are equally beneficial or detrimental.

Soft drinks contain synthetic caffeine, loads of sugar, and have no nutritive value.

Energy drinks are no better even though they may contain some added herbs or vitamins.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition has concluded that any performance enhancement from energy drinks comes from caffeine and sugar, NOT from these added nutrients. (54)

Traditional caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and yerba mate contain antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and phytonutrients that offer major health benefits and actually build a better, healthier brain.

If you’d like to continue to drink some caffeine to stay alert and productive, there’s no better drink than green tea.

Green tea will help you stay simultaneously calm and focused due to two unique compounds, EGCG and l-theanine.

EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) is a potent antioxidant that can improve your mood and make you more resilient to stress by increasing the calming neurotransmitter GABA. (55, 56)

One study found EGCG to be as effective at relieving anxiety as the anti-anxiety medication benzodiazepine. (57)

L-theanine is a relaxing amino acid that causes an increase in alpha brainwave activity, putting you in a state similar to that experienced during meditation. (58)

The caffeine, EGCG, and theanine in green tea work together to induce a desirable state of calm alertness. (59)

Caffeine and Anxiety: Take the Next Step

Caffeine is not the innocuous substance it might seem to be.

The evidence is overwhelming that this psychoactive drug can exacerbate or cause anxiety.

It’s been linked to a handful of recognized psychiatric disorders.

Caffeine causes anxiety by many mechanisms — increasing stress hormones, reducing calming neurotransmitters, depleting nutrients, and reducing blood flow to the brain.

If you’re going to drink any caffeinated drink, make it green tea which contains relaxing compounds.

READ NEXT: All About Caffeine Addiction and Withdrawal & How to Quit

Coffee and hormones: Here’s how coffee really affects your health.

Throughout its long history, coffee has endured both accolades and opposition.

Over the ages, some of the world’s greatest composers, thinkers and statesmen have extolled coffee’s virtues, while others have denounced it as a poisonous, mind-corrupting drug. Coffee has been praised by certain religions and prohibited by others.

Some governments have subsidized coffee crops; others have imposed steep taxes and duties on them. Doctors vali­date coffee’s health benefits yet worry about its contribution to cardiovascu­lar disease, diabetes, and even cancer.

Coffee is more popular than ever, which contributes to its contradictory status. In moderation, coffee poses minimal health risks for most people. In some cases, coffee even appears to be protective.

But many North Ameri­cans now consume coffee in large quantities, which can significantly damage our neuroendocrineimmune system over the long term.

Neuro-what?

The neuroendocrineimmune system consists of the processes and structures that form our central nervous systems, our hormonal systems, and our immune systems, all of which are linked in complex relationships.

For example, many of us know that when we are stressed, we get sick more easily. Emotional and mental demands, especially if prolonged, cause our stress hormones to increase, which means our immune systems don’t work as well.

The complicated interplay of our neuroendocrineimmune systems suggests that there is no clear division between mind and body. What we think and experience is as much “us” as what our body does.

How do we know what we know?

It’s hard to get a clear picture of coffee’s health effects. Epidemiological studies, which try to find relationships between multiple lifestyle factors, can be hard to interpret.

For one thing, coffee drinking is correlated with other dietary and lifestyle behaviours such as alcohol and nicotine consumption and a sedentary lifestyle. In other words, people who drink a lot of coffee also tend to drink and smoke, and be out of shape.

On the other hand, people who avoid coffee often do so for health-related reasons. They’re also more likely to be health-conscious in other ways, making health-promoting lifestyle choices such as exercise. Comparing coffee drinkers with non-coffee drinkers thus misses a number of important variables.

Second, there are vast differences in coffee’s pharmacological constituents depending on the type of bean used in the study, the methods of roasting, and the varying ways of preparing coffee, not to mention the differences between commercially available instant coffee versus freshly roasted organic coffee.

There are also differences in individual sensitivity to caffeine, likely due to the genetic traits related to caffeine metabolism (see “Coded for Caffeine”, in the Spezzatino Coffee issue), as well as lifestyle influences. For example, the half-life of caffeine is shorter in smokers than non-smokers, while the half-life of caffeine is doubled in women taking oral contraceptives.

Finally, most research studies observe and measure the effects of a single dose of caffeine rather than the effects of chronic ingestion. Yet most coffee drinkers drink coffee daily.

As a number of studies have shown, single-dose experiments don’t necessarily reflect the effects of our regular routines. For example, researchers have shown that we can build tolerance to the cardiovascular effects of caffeine within two to three days. Therefore, research studies that show a given effect on the body from an acute single dose bear little relevance to the chronic ingestion of caffeine.

In my naturopathic practice, I use evidence from epidemiological and experimental studies. But I also draw on experience and a systematic understanding of how our nervous, endocrine, and immune systems interact in order to make educated guesses about coffee’s potential effects on my patients.

Caffeine and your brain

Caffeine is one of coffee’s primary constituents with psychoactive activities. It’s part of a group of substances collectively referred to as methylxanthines. These alkaloids are well known for their ability to increase cognitive abilities, improve energy, enhance well-being, and increase arousal and alertness.

As mentioned elsewhere in the Spezzatino Coffee issue (see “Lab to Lunch”), these effects occur largely because of caffeine’s ability to block adenosine receptor sites throughout the body. However, there are other neurochemical effects that are worth noting.

Once again, studies demonstrating the effects of caffeine on neurotransmitters (chemicals that allow the cells of our nervous system to communicate) don’t always give us a realistic picture.

First, the dose used in neurochemical studies generally exceeds quantities ingested during normal everyday life.

When animals are used, they are non-coffee drinkers. (It’s hard to make mugs that small, and without opposable thumbs… well, let’s just say there’ve been some unfortunate spills of hot liquid. Luckily, no legal cases against McDonalds are pending.) Therefore, researchers use a single dose of caffeine, which may not reflect the neurochemical effects of chronic consumption of caffeine.

Second, neurotransmitters are produced in different amounts in different areas of the brain simultaneously, and have very different effects on mood and personality depending on where in the brain they’re used.

Quick overview: serotonin is involved in mood and appetite regulation; gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) typically inhibits neuronal activity to cause relaxation and sleep; and acetylcholine is involved in muscle contraction.

Chronic caffeine intake has been shown to increase the receptors of serotonin (26-30% increase), GABA (65% increase), and acetylcholine (40-50%). This may contribute to the elevated mood and perceived increase in energy we feel after a coffee (which makes espresso a handy pre-workout drink). Despite increasing receptors, caffeine also inhibits the release of GABA, which contributes to our feeling of alertness.

Chronic caffeine intake also increases the sensitivity of serotonin receptors. In other words, receptors specific to serotonin are more responsive to serotonin present in the synaptic cleft — it’s sort of like installing a bigger satellite dish to catch more of an existing signal. One study showed a decrease in serotonin release, but an increase in serotonin reuptake, leading to an overall increase in serotonin levels. (Think of it as the brain’s natural recycling.)

In the human body, when neurotransmitter receptors increase in number, or if they increase their sensitivity, it generally suggests a reduction in functional capacity and activity of neurons associated with those receptors.

Either the brain needs more chemicals to do the job, or the neurons involved aren’t working as hard. This might mean that a certain neurotransmitter is in short supply, or that its activity needs to increase. In the case of caffeine and serotonin, this can partly explain the mood-enhancing effects of drinking coffee.

Caffeine has also been shown to increase serotonin levels in the limbic system, a relatively primitive part of our brain involved in regulating basic functions such as hormonal secretions, emotional responses, mood regulation and pain/pleasure sensations. This has a similar mode of action as some antidepressant medications.

The increase in serotonin levels, combined with the increase in serotonin receptors, cause the characteristic withdrawal symptoms (such as agitation and irritability) when coffee intake is stopped. The brain has come to expect more action in its serotonin receptors, and when its abundant supply of happy chemicals is abruptly cut off, it gets crabby.

Indirectly, chronic caffeine intake may impact neurochemistry by reducing cofactors – chemical partners – necessary for neurotransmitter synthesis.

For example, coffee inhibits the absorption of iron, a key mineral involved with the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine. Additionally, we need the activated form of vitamin B6, pyridoxal-5-phosphate, to synthesize serotonin, dopamine and GABA. Coffee consumption can decrease amounts of circulating B-vitamins, which could affect neurotransmitter synthesis in another way.

Thus, caffeine impacts whether certain chemicals are available; how receptive our brains are to them; and whether we’re even making those chemicals in the first place.

Caffeine and your hormones

Both scientists and lay people know the effects of caffeine consumption on hormones relatively well.

For example, quickly perusing the internet brings up numerous sites claiming that caffeine “wears out the adrenal glands”. But not surprisingly, this may not be entirely accurate. While we know many things about the impact caffeine has on human’s stress physiology, certain mechanisms of how it occurs are still relatively mysterious.

Caffeine strongly affects the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis: the linked system of hypothalamus and pituitary glands in the brain, and the adrenal glands that sit atop the kidneys. The HPA axis influences the body’s ability to manage and deal with stress, both at rest and during activity.

The adrenal glands secrete two key hormones: epinephrine and cortisol. Epinephrine, or adrenaline, increases respiration rate, heart rate and blood pressure; while cortisol frees up stored glucose, which we need in greater amounts during times of perceived stress.

As you can imagine, for our early hominid ancestors, the ability to quickly access and use stored energy was a helpful feature. However, while this is an excellent acute response to an immediate stress (such as being chased by a bear), it’s a damaging response when the stress is chronic (such as the cumulative demands of our daily modern lives).

Studies in humans have shown that caffeine increases cortisol and epinephrine at rest, and that levels of cortisol after caffeine consumption are similar to those experienced during an acute stress. Drinking coffee, in other words, re-creates stress conditions for the body.

While scientists have some ideas about how caffeine increases HPA hormones, the exact mechanism still remains unclear.

Compounding the problem, people tend to consume more caffeine during stressful periods (as nearly every student during exam season knows well). They add stress to stress, potentially making things even worse.

Rat studies have shown that caffeine consumption during chronic stress increased cortisol, blood pressure, and other negative hormonal events. Chronically stressed rats who consumed caffeine ended up sicker, and died sooner, than rats experiencing chronic stress without caffeine consumption.

However, again, chronic caffeine consumption leads to a degree of physiological tolerance and thus among people who drink coffee regularly, blood pressure, heart rate, excessive urination, epinephrine production, and even anxiety and stimulation may not be as strongly affected.

Other hormonal effects of caffeine appear to be related to competitive actions for metabolism in the liver. Like a gridlocked city, the liver only has so many “roads”, or metabolic pathways, available. More “cars” (i.e. chemicals) on the “roads” slow things down.

For instance, the liver detoxifies caffeine using the CYP1A2 enzyme system, which is also responsible for initial metabolism of estrogen during Phase I clearance by the liver. This is one reason caffeine is likely metabolized more slowly in women taking oral contraceptives or postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy.

While research showing the effects of chronic caffeine consumption on circulating levels of estrogen isn’t yet available, researchers have suggested that caffeine consumption may lower the risk of breast cancer by upregulating the CYP1A2 isoenzyme and thus improving estrogen metabolism.

Caffeine and your immune system

The immune system is a vast and complex system that communicates extensively with itself and connects to every other system of the body.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll separate the immune system into two sections: the Th1 side (T-cell mediated system) and the Th2 side (B-cell mediated antibody system). The Th1 side is our innate immune system – the system that develops early in life – and is our first line of defense against pathogens such as viruses and bacteria.

On the other hand, the Th2 system is acquired: as we are exposed to pathogens throughout our lives, we produce antibodies to them. Antibodies recognize foreign invaders if exposed to them repeatedly, and will launch a stronger and swifter attack if a second invasion takes place. Because of this system, someone will experience a reaction to poison ivy only after their second exposure.

The two sides of this system act as a seesaw: when one side is dominant, the other side is suppressed.

Research suggests that chronic caffeine exposure shifts the immune system to a Th2 dominance. This may help the treatment of Th1 dominant autoimmune conditions, but in the average person, it may elevate the Th2 system excessively, creating an overzealous Th2 immune response. A dominant Th2 system predisposes individuals to hypersensitivity reactions such as asthma and allergies.

To date, there have not been any correlations between chronic caffeine consumption and increased prevalence of Th2 associated conditions, but based on existing knowledge of caffeine and the immune system, the link seems plausible.

In my clinical naturopathic practice, we have seen certain autoimmune conditions improve with caffeine consumption, while others get worse.

If someone with rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune condition that causes joint pain and inflammation) says they get significantly more joint pain when they drink coffee, one could hypothesize that their Th2 system is dominant, and the caffeine is promoting destruction of their joints by further stimulating this already overzealous Th2 system.

Putting it all together

No known studies demonstrate statistically significant correlations between coffee over-consumption and the unwinding of the neuroendocrineimmune system. We just don’t know for sure yet how all the puzzle pieces fit together.

However, certain theoretical pathways can be created, and have been observed clinically. We can also make some informed speculation based on what we already know of the neuroendocrineimmune system’s interrelationships.

Effects on metabolism

Chronic coffee consumption increases insulin resistance, a situation in which the body cannot effectively deliver glucose into the cells of the body. In this situation, insulin, which helps transport glucose into the cells, cannot do its job well because the body’s cells are less receptive.

This typically occurs with a diet high in refined sugars and starches. Thus, the body must release ever-larger amounts of insulin to do the job. Like parents tuning out their screaming toddler, the body becomes less and less sensitive to insulin’s effects, which means more circulating glucose, which means more insulin release… and so on.

It’s a vicious cycle. And, unfortunately, it’s a cycle that currently occurs in the majority of North Americans. Combine the standard Western diet high in refined carbohydrates with stress and a high caffeine intake, and you have a potential recipe for metabolic disaster.

Insulin stimulates the release of interleukin-6 (IL-6), which is a Th2 cytokine (a cell signaling molecule).

If IL-6 is chronically elevated (in this case, from high insulin levels), it may lead to a Th2 dominance and potential hypersensitivity from an overzealous antibody response. This can result in acquired sensitivities to foods and chemicals.

Interleukin-6 also stimulates the release of cortisol, which, as a glucocorticoid hormone, increases the body’s glucose level. This leads to an increased demand for insulin, which is problematic because of the insulin resistance that started the cascade in the first place.

Let’s recap: a diet high in refined sugars and starches leads to more circulating glucose.

  • More glucose means more insulin needed to dispose of it.
  • More insulin means cells tune out, which means even more insulin dumped into the bloodstream (especially if people continue to eat this high-carbohydrate diet).
  • More insulin means insulin resistance — possibly aggravated by high caffeine consumption.
  • More insulin means more IL-6 and more inflammation and hypersensitivity.
  • More IL-6 means more cortisol, which means more glucose… and here we are, back at the beginning of a very nasty cycle.

Consider this as you cradle your extra-large coffee and glazed donut this morning during your white-knuckle commute to work.

Effects on brain function and mood

The elevated blood sugar and insulin don’t just stop at inflammation. They can create imbalances in the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and GABA, which can lead to sub-clinical mood problems such as mild depression (aka “the blues”), low motivation, irritability, and impaired cognition.

People with chronically high glucose, insulin resistance, systemic inflammation, and stress typically have “fuzzy brain”, memory loss, lethargy, and/or a short fuse.

Coupled with the potential iron and B-vitamin deficiencies created by coffee, which, again, cause impaired synthesis of key neurotransmitters, this may result in mood states where people feel the need for coffee to keep themselves functioning properly.

Have you ever felt that you desperately needed coffee for a pick-me-up? Do you tell people, “I’m a grouch until I get my coffee?” If so, you may be experiencing this situation.

Caffeine in moderation is likely not an issue for most people. Indeed, it may actually have health benefits. (See the article on traditional Chinese medicine and coffee, in the Spezzatino Coffee issue) Problems occur when we drink coffee all day long and combine it with sedentary lifestyles, poor diets, and chronically elevated stress.

We drink much more caffeine than our great-grandparents did. Not only has our coffee consumption increased, but the market is saturated (pardon the pun) with other sources of caffeine. There is much more refined sugar available to us, and our lives move at a much faster pace.

The industry standard size for a cup of coffee is six ounces. If you’re North American and under 40, I bet you don’t even own a six-ounce glass of anything – never mind finding a cup that size at the local coffee shop!

It’s the perfect storm: caffeine, stress, sugar, and sedentary living. This combination and its complex relationships with your neuroendocrineimmune system may be affecting you more than you realize.

Systems in our body are closely interconnected. Stimulation of one area can have far-reaching effects, especially if the stimulation is dramatic and/or prolonged.

Large amounts of caffeine likely have numerous negative impacts on the body that research has not yet elucidated, but if we piece the available studies together, such impacts appear to be very real possibilities.

Follow the evidence that your body offers you. Pay attention to how you feel when you drink coffee.

Do you feel good for a short period, then shaky and irritable? Do you notice more pain or other kinds of physical distress?

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms I’ve mentioned above, ranging from anxiety to inflammation, consider bringing a little decaf into your life.

Eat, move, and live…better.©

The health and fitness world can sometimes be a confusing place. But it doesn’t have to be.

Let us help you make sense of it all with this free special report.

In it you’ll learn the best eating, exercise, and lifestyle strategies – unique and personal – for you.

Caffeine and Cortisol: Does Coffee Stress You Out?

Happy National Coffee Day!

More than 2 billion people enjoy a cup of coffee every morning, including 85% of the U.S. population . I think that’s grounds (no pun intended) for celebration, which is why Bulletproof is offering you discounts on Upgraded Coffee all day.

I also want to answer a few common questions about coffee. This article will touch on caffeine tolerance and coffee-related cortisol release. Enjoy!

Will you build a tolerance to caffeine if you drink coffee every day?

It depends. Caffeine affects different people very differently, partly because your genetics influence your response to caffeine. That’s why a cup of coffee that barely wakes you up may keep your friend from sleeping for two days.

That said, the basic mechanism behind caffeine is the same for everyone. Your brain uses a neurotransmitter called adenosine to tell you that you’re tired; the more adenosine you build up, the more tired you feel. When you take caffeine it prevents adenosine from acting on your brain, making you feel more alert.

Here’s the good news: for most people, tolerance to caffeine only applies to its effects on heart rate, blood pressure, and negative side effects (jitteriness, for example). Odds are you won’t build a tolerance to coffee’s alertness and wakefulness effects .

However, there is a different type of tolerance to consider. Ready for some cool neuroscience?

Your brain is good at keeping the status quo and it doesn’t like change. If you take a drug habitually, your brain learns when the drug is coming and gets ready to combat its effects.

For example, if you drink coffee every morning, your brain picks up cues (the smell of the coffee, the act of putting grounds in the French press, etc.) that it associates with incoming caffeine. As soon as you get out your French press, your brain will start making you more tired, less alert, etc. to preemptively cancel out the boost the caffeine will give you. The result: you feel the coffee less – and if you smell someone else’s coffee but don’t drink it, you’ll get sleepy, and without the hit of caffeine to follow you’ll stay sleepy. This phenomenon happens with alcohol , painkillers , and possibly coffee .

There’s a hack for cue-based tolerance. You just have to break your brain’s association between coffee and caffeine. You can try:

  • Not drinking coffee every day (but who wants to give up daily coffee?)
  • Adding a cup of decaf in the afternoon – half the time you get caffeine, half the time you get decaf, and your brain will stop associating coffee with caffeine. It will also stop associating caffeine with mornings, which could make waking up much easier for you.
  • Switching up where you drink your coffee. Your brain notices where you are when you take a psychoactive substance, but it will have a harder time forming an association if you keep changing places on it. So if you usually enjoy your cup of joe in the kitchen, start taking it to your desk with you now and then. Better yet, go for a walk with your coffee a couple times a week.

If you keep your brain guessing you just might feel your morning cup a little more.

Does coffee trigger cortisol release?

Cortisol is the infamous hormone you release when you’re stressed. In high doses it inhibits brain function, slows metabolism, breaks down muscle, and increases blood pressure. Have you ever felt panicked before a public speech and forgotten everything you were going to say? That’s what a big bump in cortisol feels like. And if you’re looking for stress relief, lowering cortisol helps.

Cortisol isn’t all bad, though. In fact, it’s necessary for you to function. Cortisol peaks in the morning, helping to wake you up, and it can be a useful as an indicator of strain, letting you know when to slow down or stop something that’s stressing you out. Cortisol also decreases inflammation – that’s part of the reason your body releases it in response to, for example, a workout that tears your muscle tissue.

Low cortisol is an issue, too. Insufficient cortisol can leave you feeling tired, emotional, and anxious. As long as you avoid chronically elevated or depleted cortisol you can make the little hormone work to your advantage.

A common argument against drinking coffee is that it triggers cortisol release, but (forgive me for getting nitpicky) that may not be true. Caffeine (not coffee) definitely triggers cortisol release . In fact, the increase in cortisol part of the reason caffeine makes you feel more alert.

Remember a few paragraphs ago, when I was talking about how you build a tolerance to some of caffeine’s effects but not others? Cortisol release is one of the effects to which you build tolerance. If you only take caffeine now and then, it causes a big boost in cortisol. But if you get caffeine daily (by drinking coffee every morning, for example) your body tempers the cortisol response . You still release cortisol, but not enough to worry about unless your cortisol is already out of whack.

Does coffee itself (separate from caffeine) cause cortisol release? Mycotoxins do, at least in mice , and they cause inflammation (a common trigger of cortisol release) in humans. It’s difficult to say whether mold-free coffee increases cortisol.

Regardless, studies suggest that cortisol release from caffeine is mild if you drink it daily. For most of us, that little bump shouldn’t be a problem.

That’s it for today. Enjoy your java, and don’t forget to take advantage of our National Coffee Day discounts if you’re due to stock up on coffee. Thanks for reading!

1) http://www.slu.edu/x95828.xml

2) http://www.nclnet.org/caffeine_awareness_month

3)

4)

5) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10975617?dopt=Abstract

6) http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/23/2935.full

7) http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/108/6/e38.full#ref-1

8) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2257922/

9) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0041010186900863

10)

  • Cortisol responses to mental stress, exercise, and meals following caffeine intake in men and women

    Caffeine elevates cortisol secretion, and caffeine is often consumed in conjunction with exercise or mental stress. The interactions of caffeine and stress on cortisol secretion have not been explored adequately in women. We measured cortisol levels at eight times on days when healthy men and women consumed caffeine (250 mg × 3) and underwent either mental stress or dynamic exercise protocols, followed by a midday meal, in a double blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design. Men and women had similar cortisol levels at the predrug baselines, but they responded differently to mental stress and exercise. The cortisol response to mental stress was smaller in women than in men (p = .003). Caffeine acted in concert with mental stress to further increase cortisol levels (p = .011), the effect was similar in men and women. Exercise alone did not increase cortisol, but caffeine taken before exercise elevated cortisol in both men and women (ps < .05). After a postexercise meal, the women had a larger cortisol response than the men, and this effect was greater after caffeine (p < .01). Cortisol release in response to stress and caffeine therefore appears to be a function of the type of stressor and the sex of the subject. However, repeated caffeine doses increased cortisol levels across the test day without regard to the sex of the subject or type of stressor employed (p < .00001). Caffeine may elevate cortisol by stimulating the central nervous system in men but may interact with peripheral metabolic mechanisms in women.

    Do you suffer from the “jitters” after drinking coffee?

    Learn more about the science behind coffee jitters and how to avoid them!

    What Causes The Coffee Jitters?

    Many people experience the jitters after consuming caffeinated coffee or coffee-based beverages.

    The jitters refers to a physical sensation of feeling a rush then sudden crash of energy. This sensation can make many people feel unsettled or make it hard to concentrate.

    The Science of The Coffee Jitters

    The science of the jitters is all down to the chemical profile of coffee beans.

    Coffee beans contain many complex molecules such as the chemical compound caffeine and acids chlorogenic acid, pyrogallol, N-alkanoyl-hydroxytriptamides and catechol. These chemicals are naturally produced by, or bi-products of, the coffee plant and perform a range of functions.

    Caffeine, for example, is the coffee plant’s natural defense mechanism, produced by a mutated enzyme N-methyltransferase, typically found in most plants. Caffeine leaches into the surrounding soil as leaves from the plant drop and are decomposed into the soil. Caffeine is toxic to other plants, which prevents other plants from growing around the coffee plant and competing for sunlight.

    Each of the natural substances found in coffee are absorbed by the body in different ways when consumed. Caffeine, in particular, plays a part in triggering the jitters.

    Effects of Caffeine on The Body

    Caffeine acts like a natural stimulant for the nervous system. It blocks the effects of naturally-produced neuromodulator adenosine, linked to drowsiness, by acting on a chemical called phosphodiesterase (PDE) at a cellular level. Phosphodiesterase acts on adenosine in the cells to prevent it from conducting signals across the body such as the feeling of tiredness.

    Instead, caffeine stimulates the body into “fight or flight” mode by boosting alertness through the central nervous pathway and encouraging more blood to be transported around the body. This can also lead to higher blood pressure.

    By increasing the heart’s contractions and general blood flow caffeine can, in some instances, lead to palpitations or even heart problems when consumed in sufficient quantity.

    These palpitations are one of the unwanted sensations of the jitters. Similarly by stimulating the body into “fight or flight” mode, caffeine can trigger unwanted feelings of anxiety, stress or over-stimulation that paradoxically prevent people from feeling focused.

    How Long Do The Jitters Last For?

    The majority of these effects are felt within the first hour after ingesting caffeine. In fact caffeine hits the bloodstream within five minutes of consuming it!

    Symptoms of the jitters can then last for several hours. The exact length and severity of the coffee jitters are down to the quantity of caffeine ingested and the body’s ability to produce an enzyme: CYP1A2, whose production is regulated by a particular gene, to metabolize caffeine.

    In the United States, the average coffee drinker consumes around 206-437mg of caffeine a day, which equates to 1-3 cups a day depending on how the coffee has been brewed. The amount of caffeine that’s considered “safe” to drink is in this range, though it’s possible to consume more without adverse side effects according to your physiology.

    For more details about guidelines for consuming caffeine, see our earlier post on the subject.

    Does All Caffeine Cause The Jitters?

    Not necessarily! While other plants, such as tea, also produce caffeine differences in its chemical composition lead to different results when consumed. Those results are down to brew method, your physiology and the chemical structure of the caffeine.

    Similarly outside processes, such as fermentation, can result in caffeinated coffee that’s less likely to cause the jitters too.

    Chemical Structure

    Tea leaves actually contain more caffeine by dry weight than coffee. However tea plants produce a slightly different kind of caffeine called theine.

    Theine is structurally the same molecule as caffeine in coffee, however the tea molecule is bonded more tightly to other substances in the plant. As a result it takes longer for the caffeine in tea to be absorbed into the body, leading to a more gradual release of energy.

    The rate at which the theine to be metabolized is down to the same genetic differences that cause some people to respond better or worse to caffeine in coffee beans.

    Brewing Methods

    Similarly differences in the way coffee and tea are brewed lead to variations in caffeine levels. Though tea leaves contain more caffeine, far fewer leaves are required by dry weight than with coffee to produce a brew.

    Fermentation

    Unlike other coffee roasters, at eatCultured we work with natural fermentation to craft a whole bean, caffeinated coffee that’s less likely to cause the jitters.

    The unique fermentation process naturally converts caffeine in the coffee beans into caffeine that’s chemically closer to theine. We’re excited about using natural fermentation to make coffee a jitters-free experience for good!

    We hope you found this overview of the coffee jitters insightful. To learn more about the science of caffeine, coffee or our work with natural fermentation, please visit our blog.

    If you’d like to taste the results of our work with fermentation and coffee, stop by our store to pick up a bottle of Cultured Coffee!

    How to get caffeine out of your system

    If you’re someone who tends to indulge a little while on your coffee break, you may have a close relationship with the coffee jitters. Relationship status: It’s complicated. Symptoms include:

    • Increased heartbeat
    • Resltessness
    • Anxiety
    • Nervousness
    • Dizziness
    • Sweating
    • Shortness of breath

    While your relationship is giving you some serious butterflies, the initial honeymoon phase energy jolt is now welcoming you to the caffeine-high. Unfortunately, it’s quickly turning into a love-hate relationship, and you’re ready to come down. But how do you get rid of coffee jitters?

    Here are a few ways to get rid of caffeine jitters quickly:

    1. Water.

    An effective way to get rid of your jitters is to flush out your system with water. Drinking water will decrease the effects of caffeine in a relatively short time. Being dehydrated can sometimes enhance your jitters, so filling up on some good ole’ h2O will only help. Try drinking a glass of water for every cup of coffee you have. You’ll thank me later.

    2. Exercise.

    You just crossed the caffeine line, which probably means you can’t sit still. Exercising will help metabolize the caffeine and get all of that unwanted energy you’ve got bottled up, out! Try stretching, taking a brisk walk or going for a quick jog. All of these will improve the mind, body and soul.

    3. Wait it out.

    Luckily, the effects of caffeine eventually go away on their own. There is always the option to practice breathing techniques while you’re just waiting it out! Typically, you’ll be feeling back to normal within a couple of hours, if you can wait that long.

    4. Sip on some herbal tea.

    Herbal tea will neutralize the effects of caffeine on the body. With no caffeine, these magical beverages contain some pretty darn good health benefits such as aiding in digestion, protecting cells and easing those nasty colds. Not to mention the therapeutic aspect as being an added benefit, too! Chamomile is a good one to try.

    5. Amp up your Vitamin C game.

    Fruits high in vitamin C are prime. High caffeine levels in your blood affect vitamin C concentration in your blood, tricking your body into thinking you have a vitamin C deficiency. Chomping on an orange or grapefruit could be your best bet to get some added vitamin C back into your bloodstream.

    We talked about it earlier, but the best (and most obvious) way to avoid the jitters is to cut back on coffee.

    But then, this poses the dilemma of having to actually drink less coffee, which is often easier said than done.

    Here are some great ways to cut back without feeling like you’re missing out!

    1. Sleeeeeeeeep

    I know, I know, easier said than done. But this is your only body we’re talking about—maybe there are one or two things that can get moved around in your daily routine to help it out and score you a little extra shut-eye. You’ll wake up feeling more refreshed and without such an urgent need for caffeine.

    2. Take stock

    There might be some sneaky sources of caffeine in your life that you haven’t considered. Try keeping track of the amount of caffeine you’re taking in for a few days. Make sure to think about things like chocolate, gum, and OTC’s like Excedrin. You might be surprised!

    3. Recognize your triggers

    What makes you feel like you need a cup of coffee, when in reality you may not? Is it driving past your favorite coffee shop? The way espresso smells when it’s being ground? Chatting with somebody in the break room next to the coffee pot? Recognizing when you’re in these situations might help you figure out when you actually need a boost and when you’re just reaching for a mug on auto-pilot.

    4. Don’t deprive yourself of the sensations of coffee

    Drink decaf.

    Oof. That probably hurts to read, but bear with me. I promise I only have your best interests in mind and I’ve never intended to hurt you.

    All jokes aside, once your body adjusts to lower (or non-existent? You can do it!) levels of caffeine, drinking decaf will feel like a totally fine substitute, and you’ll get all the good feels that a hot cup of coffee brings with it, and none of the bad stuff.

    Is it just the smell of coffee that you can’t get enough of? Totally valid! Try burning a coffee-scented candle while you work or study instead of brewing a pot. Just watch out for the possibility that it could set off cravings!

    5. Explore other fun drink options

    Ever tried kombucha? Or that green juice stuff that’s all over Pinterest? Or green tea in holiday flavors like “candy cane?” There’s a world of possibilities, and coffee is just one of them! Many will even give you a healthy energy boost.

    6. Sip Sutra

    Coffee can be sort of sketchy for your health, but if you replace one of your daily cups with a cup of SUTRA Black or Gold, you can be totally sure that you’re doing something amazing for your body. Coffee just can’t compete with the long list of healthy ingredients in SUTRA! Plus, you won’t have to worry about jitters, because SUTRA increases your energy naturally without caffeine. Yah, ZERO caffeine.

    Check out this review by Dawn V:

    “I didn’t intend to give up coffee but I had this one morning and noticed I was less jittery and just felt better.”

    Or this review by Samantha C:

    “I was recently diagnosed with an illness where I had to eliminate a lot of food but also caffeine. That meant giving up my beloved coffee. However, I found your GOLD Sutra and now feel like I’m back to sipping a chai tea latte. Love it so much I just bought more!! Thank you for creating this product!!”

    Not only will SUTRA give you natural energy, but both flavors are gorgeous, they taste great, and you’ll still get the experience of waking up to a delicious hot drink.

    Jitters suck, there’s no question about it. Try using a few of the tips above the next time they set in and you’ll be ready to take on the rest of the day!

    Steve throws an extraterrestrial “gang sign” 🙂

    The Little A’Le’Inn
    (near the infamous Area 51)
    Rachel, Nevada
    submitted by “Kamikaze” and “Butterfly” (Steve & Amanda)

    Amanda & Steve say:
    We took a drive from Las Vegas out Hwy 93 to the Extraterrestrial Highway(Hwy 375) and into Rachel, Nevada. This runs along Nellis Air Force Base and the Nevada Test Sights.

    There’s a whole lot of NOTHING (except those who have been taken up in a ship, of course) out in these parts and it’s about 150 miles between gas stops. It’s also the locale of the famed Area 51.


    Along the roadway there’s the Extraterrestrial Highway road sign and a giant metal alien sculpture as well as a “mailbox” which serves as “the meeting place” for our friendly outer spacemen complete with an “alien donation” slot.

    After a long drive, you finally come to the town of Rachel (the whole town is nothing but a few RV’s parked behind the A’le’ Inn), which houses a place called the Little A’le’ Inn; a motel, restaurant, and bar with plenty of alien photos, gifts, and other alien inspired items as well as a human vs alien census sign, space ship on a tow truck, space ship sculpture, and an Independence Day movie time capsule to be opened in the year 2050.

    wendyvee says:
    I live to find places like this! Great roadside catch, Steve & Amanda!

    If your spaceship is in the repair shop, you can visit The Little A’Le’Inn online!

    Steve throws an extraterrestrial “gang sign” 🙂

    More Wonders:

    Tags: aliens, Butterfly, Kamikaze, Nevada, space, spaceship, UFO
    Tags: aliens, Butterfly, Kamikaze, Nevada, space, spaceship, UFO

    No drug is used more widely in the world than caffeine. The omnipresence of caffeine, however, sometimes makes people forget that it is a powerful stimulant. In addition to keeping you alert and energized, caffeine has many suggested health benefits, but consuming too much of has its costs. Too much caffeine can lead to increased anxiety or complicate an existing anxiety disorder by increasing symptoms.1

    Anxiety is our body’s response to situations that we perceive as being worrisome or threatening, and it promotes our body’s “fight or flight” response. Caffeine also triggers this response, making you overreact to situations that aren’t actually dangerous or troublesome. Too much caffeine can also make you irritable and agitated in situations that normally wouldn’t affect you. And if you already have increased anxiety or suffer from panic attacks, caffeine can cause these symptoms to become worse.

    The effects of caffeine can also include 2

    • agitation
    • sleep problems
    • restlessness
    • twitching
    • dizziness
    • increased heart rate
    • nausea
    • diarrhea
    • changes in mood

    The Food and Drug Administration considers a daily intake of 400 mg of caffeine or less to be a safe amount for most adults (exceptions including pregnant women and others with special restrictions).3 This amount is roughly 3 to 4 cups of the coffee you would brew at home. Drinking more than this amount can cause “coffee intoxication,” and those who drink caffeine excessively and regularly and struggle to cutback may have a caffeine use disorder.

    Action Steps

    Learn and track – Do you know how many milligrams of caffeine you drink on average? Total up your coffee and other caffeinated beverages to make sure this amount is not above the FDA recommended limit. Also, keep track of when you consume caffeine to make you don’t interrupt your sleep cycle. Research has found that caffeine may interrupt sleep if you consume it within six hours before you go to bed.4

    Check daily habits – You don’t have to have a caffeine use disorder to feel the effects of caffeine on your level of anxiety. If you’re not sure whether caffeine is the cause of your increased anxiety, evaluate your other daily habits. If you are eating unhealthy foods, not exercising, and getting poor sleep, then the effects of caffeine are likely to increase. But if you’re taking care of yourself and still feel anxious, then it’s possible that caffeine is the culprit. Your doctor may recommend that you cut back on your caffeine intake to see whether that makes a difference in your anxiety level.

    Watch what you eat and drink – Also monitor what you eat and drink when you’re consuming caffeine. Some professionals recommend that eating protein when consuming caffeine can minimize the effects. Drink plenty of water, and limit alcohol intake as well when you consume caffeine. Also, check the labels of your medication to see if they contain caffeine as well or whether they interact with caffeine. If you’re taking a stimulant as a medicine, then the effects of caffeine may also be increased.

    Consider alternatives – If you rely heavily on beverages with high amounts of caffeine, such an energy drink or that triple espresso, then you might want to consider lower caffeine alternatives. Tea or decaffeinated coffee can help you cut back but keep some of the taste you enjoy. If you rely on soda to get you through the afternoon, consider switching to water to keep you hydrated, focused, and ready to sleep when you head to bed.

    Delay that first cup – Your body is built to boost energy in the morning with a chemical called cortisol, so try not to drink any coffee until you’ve been up for at least an hour.5 If you want to limit it even more, then consider not consuming caffeine until you really need it. You might be surprised how your body learns to manage energy levels on its own.

    Changes to your daily habits can have powerful effects on reducing anxiety, and caffeine is no exception. Adjusting or monitoring your caffeine intake can provide you with useful information about what’s increasing your anxiety or making you irritable. If you’re not sure where to get started, start keeping track of your daily intake and talk to your doctor today about what might work best for your mind and your body. With the right adjustments, you can stay alert without feeling the negative effects of anxiety.

    Article Sources Last Updated: May 12, 2019

    The world is diverse in terms of the jobs people hold, how people travel, and the way they spend their free time. There is no average day for the world’s population, but one of the few things almost everyone has in common is caffeine. Ninety percent of the world’s population uses caffeine in one form or another, and 80 percent of U.S. adults consume caffeine every single day.

    Whether it’s coffee, tea, or soda, caffeine is a staple of everyday life. Most consume caffeine for its effects on the body — a coffee in the morning makes us feel more awake and more capable of taking on the day’s challenges. However, caffeine is capable of causing other, subtler changes in us as well, including a few significant effects on mood.

    Alertness

    Perhaps the most obvious effect of caffeine on one’s mood is the feeling of vigilance that comes with the beverage. Not only does caffeine wake you up, but it helps you accomplish more with your time. Studies have recognized an improved performance on simple tasks. The positive effects of caffeine are most noticeable when alertness is already reduced, but smaller improvements have been noted even in those operating with unimpaired alertness prior to caffeine consumption.

    Irritability And Anxiety

    Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system, an important part of which is the brain. Coffee, or any other caffeinated beverage, works by tricking the brain into releasing dopamine, serotonin. In addition, hormones including adrenaline and norepinephrine are released. It is these hormones that are involved in the body’s “fight or flight” response — useful if you’re in an emergency situation, but not so much if you’re just sitting in the office.

    This response is what can cause coffee drinkers to experience irritability, agitation, and anxiety. The burst of alertness you feel after drinking a cup of coffee is followed by these negative mood fluctuations in some people, and the more coffee you drink, the worse they get. One study even found that people drinking an excess of 1,000 milligrams of caffeine a day show nervous symptoms almost “indistinguishable” from anxiety disorder.

    Depression

    Caffeine appears to be linked to depression and depressive symptoms, but research is a little contradictory as to what exactly it is.

    Some studies have identified a positive effect of caffeine on depression. One experiment suggested that the chemical effects of caffeine can prevent brain receptors from responding to stressful situations. This means stressful responses, like a bad mood or depression, don’t manifest as easily in those with caffeine in their systems.

    Caffeine could even be fighting depression in the long term — a longitudinal study of almost 800 U.S. women found that those who consumed caffeinated coffee were less likely to become depressed than women who weren’t. The risk of depression decreased with the amount of coffee consumed, with women who drank 4 or more cups per day having the lowest risk for depression.

    Most reports of coffee being linked to an increased risk of depression involve an overconsumption of caffeine, meaning an excess of 400 milligrams per day. Drinking this many caffeinated beverages can cause negative effects expanding beyond your mood, including insomnia, an upset stomach, and muscle tremors.

    Sources:

    Lucas M, Ascherio A, et al. Coffee, Caffeine, And Risk Of Depression Among Women. JAMA. 2011

    Winston A, Hardwick E, Jaberi N. Neurosychiatric Effects of Caffeine. BJPsychi Advances. 2005.

    Smith, A. Effects of Caffeine on Human Behavior. NCBI. 2002.

    9 Things That Make You More Prone To Anger

    Sometimes, getting angry is just the inevitable response to all the crap life throws our way. If someone steals your bike or catcalls you when you’re just trying to get home, then getting angry is a perfectly normal way to react. Sometimes, though, the things that make us more prone to anger are almost 100 percent up to us, whether we realize it or not.

    If you learn how to manage your anger rather than just ignoring it until you explode, then anger, like stress, can actually be a very positive, motivating force in your life. For example, if you’re angry about the state of your finances, then you might choose to react positively to that anger by picking up extra work or tweaking your budget. That said, excessive anger can also be damaging to your heart, personal life, and even your joint function.

    So if you’ve been feeling angry more than normal lately and you’re not sure why, then you might want to take a closer look at your daily habits; you just might find that what’s making you more prone to anger is actually super easy to remedy. Here are nine things that could be making you prone to anger.

    1. Having Low Blood Sugar

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    As Psychology Today put it in their post on the topic, “Hunger and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are primitive signals known to set off the stress response in a person.” So basically, when your body senses that your blood sugar is getting dangerously low, you’re naturally going to be more prone to anger.

    It’s fun to joke about being hangry, but it’s important to remember that hunger-induced anger is a very real thing. According to WebMD, increased anger and irritability are both signs of low blood sugar that you shouldn’t ignore. You might not even realize your angry mood is due to hunger until after you start eating.

    2. Sleep Deprivation

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    Whether it’s due to a heavy workweek, menstrual cramps, or crying babies, occasionally skimping on sleep is just one those necessary evils that all grownups have to deal with. That said, it’s important not to sacrifice too much of your sleep, because sleep deprivation will absolutely make you more prone to anger.

    As WebMD put it in their article on how sleep affects the mind, “lack of sleep can alter your mood significantly. It causes irritability and anger and may lessen your ability to cope with stress. According to the NSF, the ‘walking tired’ are more likely to sit and seethe in traffic jams and quarrel with other people.”

    So while I’m not suggesting you call out of work to catch up on sleep, it is important to make sure you’re getting at least seven hours of sleep per night.

    3. Overdoing It On Weed & Then Cutting Back

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    I’m a big fan of marijuana for a lot of reasons. It’s helped me deal with everything from generalized anxiety, to lack of appetite, to situational depression, to severe menstrual cramps. Plus, the best sex I’ve ever had was stoned sex. That said, I also know that, though weed isn’t physically addictive in the way that nicotine and alcohol is, it can be psychologically addictive.

    Though marijuana withdrawal symptoms are generally quite mild, and typically only last for a few days, it’s worth noting that, for heavy users, weaning yourself off of weed can cause irritability and mood swings. So if you’ve been using cannabis multiple times a day for a while now, and you’ve recently decided to cut back on the stuff, that could be making you more prone to anger. Like all good things, weed is best when used in moderation.

    4. … Or Caffeine

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    I love coffee just as much as I enjoy marijuana, so I understand how easy it can be to overdo it on caffeine. Unfortunately, though, while consuming the right amount of caffeine can result in multiple health benefits, (like reducing your risk of developing diabetes), overdoing it on the stuff can increase stress and tension levels. So if you’re already feeling anxious or stressed, caffeine’s literal jolt to your central nervous system will likely leave you more susceptible to anger.

    Additionally, since caffeine is mildly physically addictive, trying to go off the stuff, or even just cutting back on it, can result in headaches, depressed mood, and irritability.

    5. Drinking When You’re Already Kind Of Mad

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    Everyone reacts to alcohol differently, but since alcohol literally suppresses inhibitory neurotransmitters in our brains, drinking when you’re on the verge of anger will most likely just make you more angry.

    If you’re like me, getting drunk probably just makes you more giggly and inappropriately affectionate. However, studies on alcohol and aggression show that alcohol brings out the qualities we already have. So if you’re feeling aggressive or angry before you start drinking, or struggle with anger to begin with, then the chances are pretty high that consuming alcohol will only make you that much more prone to anger.

    6. Not Having Enough Sex

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    Not everyone experiences sexual attraction, and even some of those who do experience it don’t have the highest of sex drives. Because of this, everyone’s definition of what it means to get laid “enough” is going to be a little bit different. That said, sex is a proven way to reduce stress because it releases feel-good chemicals, like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.

    If you’re not having enough sex or orgasms, it’s likely that your stress levels are getting pretty high. If this is the case, your sex life (or lack thereof) could be making you more prone to anger. One obvious way to fix this is by having sex with your partner tonight. But if you don’t have a partner, or your partner’s just not as sexual as you are, masturbating is also a great way to ward off feelings of increased stress and anger.

    7. Not Exercising Enough

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    You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but studies show that exercise can reduce anger and stress. This is no doubt due in part to the fact that exercise, like sex, releases happy chemicals in our brains. Working out is also just a healthy way to release pent-up negative energy.

    Working out is probably the last thing you feel like doing after a long day, but the correlation between anger and exercise is undeniable, so try to make the time for just a few workouts a week. Or, just take a walk today.

    8. Being Stressed Out & Anxious

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    Stress and anger are directly connected to each other. When your stress levels rise, you become more prone to irritability and anger. In turn, being angry is literally stressful for you and everyone around you, so stress and anger tend to be cyclical emotions.

    Additionally, many people struggling with intense anxiety may find themselves reacting to that anxiety with increased anger. So if you’ve been super stressed out and/or anxious lately, consider how you might begin managing that stress more effectively.

    9. Spending Too Much Time Online

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    Too much technology — especially social media — could be making us miserable. We have a tendency to compare ourselves to others, and doing so can result in all kinds of negative emotions, such as anger.

    Back in 2013, The Washington Post reported that angry tweets tend to spread faster on social media than tweets of joy or any other emotion. Granted, these findings came from an MIT Technology Review of China’s Internet, not the United States’, but If you’ve gotten on Twitter lately, then you already know how verbose angry trolls are everywhere. It can’t help to surround yourself with all that angry energy.

    If you think being online too much might be why you’ve been more prone to anger lately, then you might want to consider cutting back on, or even taking a break from, social media. Because, really, how many times a day do you need to scroll Facebook and Twitter?

    Images: Unsplash, Giphy/(9)

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