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Caffeine isn't all that bad, is it?

Oh fragrant little brown bean, how much I do love thee.....

I admit it - I do love a coffee, and if you search around, there are many benefits to drinking the occasional cup of good quality ground coffee.

Problem is, it's difficult to stick to just the one, isn't it? Caffeine, in whichever guise you like it can be addictive. It's a lovely pick-me-up to have in the morning, before that important meeting, to get you through the school run... you get the picture.

As with all things addictive, your body comes to rely on it. When there isn't enough in your system, your body will start calling for it.... and if you don't top your levels up, you can start to feel rubbish. Headachy, irritable, you know the deal.

Fact is drinking caffeine, as coffee or as tea can quickly put you in a vicious cycle of needing a fix to get through the day. It's pretty easy to drink 5 or 6 cups a day without really noticing - that is, until you start to notice how you feel when you're not topped up. That's called withdrawal and it's not very nice.

Also not very nice about caffeine is that it can:

Stop you drinking water

Yes! Just because you're quenching your thirst with a cup of tea does not mean you've actually hydrated at all. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means you drink the tea, then pee it out. It's revenue neutral in hydration terms.

Stall weight loss

This is because it imbalances your blood sugar and puts you into fat storage mode - not where you want to be if you want to lose weight

Increase heartrate

Beating too fast is just plain tiring - for the whole body. Caffeine may damage the heart over the long-term due to the accelerated pace

Cause insomnia

It amazes me how often people who can't sleep overlook their caffeine intake - I suppose it's a bit like the old "it couldn't possibly be that, I do it every day" kind of attitude. Long-term caffeine drinkers have long-term elevated caffeine levels. Believe me, anyone suffering from any level of sleep difficulty should not drink any caffeine. Ever.

Heighten anxiety

Caffeine causes you to feel anxious. That's because the effects of caffeine ingestion mimic the stress response - that's rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing. Consuming too much caffeine when you're stressed just adds fuel to the fire.

Cause fatigue (yes, really!)

When I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME) one of the things I did to get better was to remove ALL caffeine from my diet. It had become a crutch to get through the day, but was actually affecting my sleep and causing big energy dips as the caffeine levels in my system dropped. It made a huge difference to me.

And lastly - you HAVE to check out what spiders do when they've had caffeine....


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