Coffee is the worlds wonder drug and sees widespread consumption across the globe. Who is drinking Coffee? Well, just about everybody. Nobody can deny the powerful urge to make their morning cup and people make jokes like “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.” And they’re serious…many individuals are non functional without Coffee and its the first thing they go for upon waking. I’ve avoided numerous coffee addicts in the morning knowing full well the extent of their wrath and physical dependence. This pervasive liquid has seeped deep into society, and nobody questions your multiple trips to the Starbucks drive thru. Coffee is an accepted drug and woven straight into the fabric of society.
This isn’t a post demonizing Coffee nor am I getting on a soap box to preach to you. I don’t have a problem with anyone drinking Coffee. But many people (including myself) are figuring out Coffee is a net negative to our health. I believe some people can tolerate Coffee while others can’t. Similar to alcohol, certain individuals wired for alcoholism should steer clear because they metabolize it less efficiently. Only you can gauge your response to Caffeine and make the appropriate choice for your unique wiring and lifestyle requirements.
Coffee increases anxiety
This is the number one reason I quit Coffee. Coffee exacerbates anxiety to the point of panic attacks and constant stress. Coffee is a central nervous system stimulant and modulates a number of fight or flight chemicals, most notably adrenaline and noradrenaline. These chemicals are useful for feeling alert but when chemically enhanced can wreak havoc on our health. You are not supposed to be in a constant fight or flight state but over consumption of Coffee forces us into chronic stress. Coffee increases heart rate and blood pressure contributing to an overarching feeling of continuous anxiety and dread. The more sensitive you are to Caffeine the more pronounced the anxiety and panic…and the reduced quality of life.
If you’re already prone to anxiety coffee will make the problem worse, not better. If you find that increased heart and pulse rate tend to magnify your anxiety then stimulants in general are not for you, despite their cognitive enhancing properties.
Personally I have found my anxiety is almost non existent when I cut out stimulants. On coffee I get anxious standing in line, talking on the phone, and meeting people. My palms sweat, breathing becomes shallow, and heart rates increases. These symptoms of anxiety have largely dissipated since cutting out Coffee completely. The days I take Modafinil and other stimulants are also largely free of anxiety, which I contribute to cutting the Caffeine.
How many cases of anxiety are directly related to Coffee consumption? I would imagine a lot. How many people seek professional help for their anxiety and get prescribed harmful benzodiazepines? How many psychologists and psychiatrists ask about patient coffee habits? I bet they even provide coffee in their office!!
Coffee does no favors for anxiety.
Coffee alters Magnesium absorption
Caffeine reduces the absorption of crucial minerals like Magnesium which are important for managing stress and anxiety. Magnesium is involved in over 300 metabolic processes in the body, and the standard American diet doesn’t provide Magnesium in healthy amounts. Urinating and sweating also deplete magnesium. Coffee being a diuretic further expels many vitamins and minerals from the body at a rapid rate. Many athletes rely on Caffeine to give them a boost in their workouts, and this is detrimental to Magnesium levels. Magnesium is perhaps the most important mineral for keeping anxiety at bay, another reason why Coffee is not helping your anxiety symptoms. Under stress the body uses a lot of Magnesium. The constant fight or flight response from Caffeine coupled with unhealthy nutrition is a recipe for Magnesium depletion, and subsequent downstream effects.
Coffee interferes with sleep
Caffeine blocks the calming neurotransmitter Adenosine from binding in the brain. Adenosine signals your body to slow down and rest. Part of the energetic and wakefulness components of caffeine relate to its relationship with Adenosine. You may find it difficult to wind down and fall asleep. When you don’t sleep well you don’t recover and have no energy the next day. You look to Coffee to wake you up, repeating the vicious cycle and racking up a sleep debt. Poor sleep overtime leads to a compromised immune system and crippled stress response. Not a cycle you want to keep repeating.
Coffee costs money and causes dependence
Coffee is not free and if you examine your coffee bill you will find the damage done. For those visiting Starbucks twice a day one can easily find themselves spending up to $500 per month on coffee alone. Is it necessary?
Coming off coffee you begin to experience the withdrawals. Headaches and fatigue can last up to 30 days for some individuals although most symptoms subside in a weeks time. Coffee is a drug and creates physical dependence. The withdrawals are quite debilitating for some. It’s no puzzle why people drink coffee every single day with no breaks…their body is dependent and enslaved to the chemical!!
Let’s explore a few alternatives to Coffee. I found the following Nootropics helpful during coffee withdrawals. I am by no means suggesting the following can replace coffee completely, or that these are “safer” or “less habit forming” compounds. They will provide you with decent energy in the short term, and in my experience do not create the same level of dependence.
Nicotine – Some people scoff at this suggestion but I have found Nicotine is a mild stimulant compared to Coffee. 2mg of Nicorette provides about an hour of solid stimulation. Nicotinic receptors in the brain quickly desensitize. The trick is to time your dosage correctly and not compulsively redose throughout the day. Taken once a day Nicotine provides mild stimulation and focus and in my experience reduces anxiety. Unlike Coffee, the effects of Nicotine last only a short duration and allow you to fall asleep even when taken late in the afternoon. I suggest reading my post on Nicotine.
Theacrine – Theacrine has similar actions to Caffeine. It provides a decent level of alertness without the mood boosting qualities. Not a replacement by any means but if you’re struggling to stay alert can be useful.
Cacao – Cacao contains a compound called Theobromine which has stimulating qualities. Cacao powder or chocolate provides an impressive boost to energy and mood and doesn’t seem to cause energy crashes. You can buy the Hersheys Cacao powder from the store – throw the powder into smoothies or make hot cocoa. Cacao also contains notable amounts of Magnesium and Potassium. Some consider Cacao a “superfood.” Out of all these suggestions Cacao is probably the best because it provides something stimulating you can drink, mimicking the entire coffee experience.
Dynamine – Another compound similar to Caffeine which provides energy and alertness.
Phenylpiracetam – A racetam known for its stimulating qualities. Must be cycled.
There is a case to be made for the negative qualities of Coffee. Certain sensitive individuals should cut out their coffee consumption completely, or at the very least reduce the amounts they consume. Nootropics like L-Theanine may offset some of the negative qualities of caffeine and curb anxiety. Consumers of coffee may also consider switching to tea, which has less caffeine and different alkaloid profiles.
While Coffee has positive Nootropic benefits users should be mindful of the scorpions tail.
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