Caffeine is a legal mainstream drug that has been classified as a stimulant and has become the most popular drug used in today’s world. Out of all of the caffeinated drinks and foods, coffee is the most consumed. It is estimated that 96% of families drink coffee daily. 8 out 10 adults drink coffee, and 1 in 4 children consume drinks that contain caffeine. Coffee consumption has increased by 50% within the last ten years, and it is estimated that one thousand million more gallons of coffee a year are consumed than milk.
The rapid rise of caffeine consumption is a contributing factor to the rapid rise of chronic fatigue. With the fairly recent introduction of energy drinks to the market, coupled with the amount consumed by the youth, we will see a rapid increase of this health issue at a critical level.
Everyone in the medical and health fields agree that caffeine is a narcotic. It is looked upon by the medical community in great regard for its ability to treat or suppress disease. Caffeine causes the very thing many are using it to “cure,” exhaustion. Most drugs are taken in an attempt to bring relief, caffeine is different as it is taken purely for its stimulating affects. Like other drugs, caffeine is highly addictive, so much so that 62% of Americans say that they cannot function without their daily dose of coffee.
There are three primary substances that contain an almost identical alkaloid: caffeine in coffee, theine in tea, and theobromine in chocolate. They are all classified by pharmacologists as stimulants; the difference among the three is the amount and regularity consumed. It is not unheard of for someone to be a chocoholic, and there is of course those who love their stimulating teas (this does not include most herbal teas); but none of these substances are as popular, nor consumed in the daily amount as coffee.
How Caffeine Affects the Body
Caffeine ingestion stimulates the fight-or-flight response within the body. Adrenal glands (are part of the autonomic nervous system and responsible for the release of adrenaline and epinephrine), the central nervous system, the and respiratory system, are all greatly affected and increase in activity. These are the systems most affected; but in reality, every cell suffers a degree of assault.
This response can result in symptoms such as heart palpitations, stomach irritation, dizziness, muscle tension and trembling, insomnia, shortness of breath, diarrhea, ringing ears, light-headedness, high blood pressure, and/or headaches. 6 cups of a caffeinated beverage a day doubles the risk of a person suffering from a heart attack.
Caffeine has an immediate stimulating affect upon the stomach and causes a production of gastric acid/Hydrochloric Acid (HCI) that is responsible for activating the enzyme pepsin that digest protein. Without the presence of food and the excessive amount produced when food is present, symptoms such as ulcers, heartburn, and other digestive issues may develop.
Brain function and mental health are also greatly affected. The stimulating affects of caffeine restricts blood flow to the brain. The brain requires 20% of the body’s blood flow for proper function. It also requires a consistent and steady blood flow to maintain the heavy metabolic demands of the neurons. A reduction in blood flow results in a deficiency of oxygen, a vital nutrient for the brain, greatly affecting the brain’s function.
The stress placed upon the central and autonomic nervous system, along with the reduction of blood flow may also lead to symptoms such as nervousness, irritability, self-consciousness, anxiety, moodiness, and/or depression.
Does Caffeine Give Energy?
There does not seem to be a difference in thought between stimulants and nutrients, leading many to believe that stimulants are wholesome. Unhealthy foods, similar to caffeine, also have a stimulating affect upon the body and are equally harmful to one’s health; the concept of the two being one is because the action of stimulation is not fully understood.
The feeling of exaltation that immediately follows after the ingestion of a stimulant, has led to the false belief that stimulants are not harmful and at times good. There is always a degree of exhaustion or depression that follows, that is in exact proportion to the degree of stimulation; this direct affect is usually ignored or contributed to another cause and is likely addressed by consuming the exact stimulant that is responsible for its cause.
The ingestion of caffeine causes an increase in the basal metabolic rate (cell function) by 10-25%. The autonomic and central nervous system increase in activity, and with the release of adrenal hormones, the individual is given the illusion that caffeine is giving the body energy. In reality, the body is using stored energy in response to the poison.
Stimulants are irritants; a stimulant is a substance that temporarily and violently increases activity, in doing so the body is left in a state of exhaustion. When this occurs the body must rest and sleep. This is the reason many often feel exhausted mid-day and feel the need to nap or reach for another dose of caffeine or some other stimulant.
The ingestion of stimulants, such as caffeine, put the body in an energetic debt, hindering elimination, and creating endotoxins (toxins created within the body). Overtime with consistent use, the body stops responding in such a violent manner and the person is said to have built a tolerance. This is a sign that the body’s nervous system is in a great state of exhaustion and has been weakened to the point that it is unable to respond. This type of person will constantly feel drained regardless of how much rest or sleep they obtain. Their nervous system maybe in such a degenerated state that they may even find it difficult to stay asleep throughout the night.
When a person has consistently consumed caffeine and has built not only a tolerance to the substance, but a dependence as well, they will experience what is said to be withdrawal symptoms when they abstain from its use. Classifying the symptoms as withdrawal is done so in error. The symptoms are of poisoning and are present at all times but are kept suppressed by the repeated ingestion of caffeine.
The degree of severity when caffeine is discontinued, is dependent on the degree and length of use.
Symptoms may include: headache, heart fluttering, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, feelings of dullness, helplessness, irritability, moodiness, and depression. Symptoms may begin 18 to 24 hours after last ingested, and may last 2 to 3 days, or longer.
A Society In a Health Crisis
There are countless contributing factors to our current state of health. Farming practices such as man-made hybridization, GMOs, and the excessive use of chemicals has played a major factor in altering the makeup of plants and making specific components more prominent than in the past.
Along with the modernized farming practices, many unhealthy substances are readily available with drive-thrus and other establishments. Unhealthy foods and drinks are so readily available that at times it is difficult if not impossible to find something healthy from these same establishments.
With our busy lives, many don’t take the time to reflect on their daily habits and how they maybe affecting their health. As convenient as many of these things are, most are not beneficial to the health of the body. As magnificent, strong, and complex as the body is, it too has its necessary requirements and limitations.