March is National Caffeine Awareness Month, which was created to call attention to the dangers of caffeine. In all fairness, there are both pros and cons to this popular substance. In fact, light to moderate consumption may even have health benefits. The trouble is, many Americans over consume caffeine, which comes in many forms, from coffee and tea, to sodas, sports drinks, chocolate─even over-the-counter medications.
According to Marina Kushner─founder of the Caffeine Awareness Association─caffeine is not
only habit forming, but also addicting. As a stimulant that targets the central nervous system,
caffeine triggers the release of cortisol─a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands
released in response to stress. While it has some beneficial functions, cortisol also increases
blood sugar and suppresses the immune system.
In addition, caffeine reduces insulin sensitivity─which may play a role in issues ranging from
weight gain to diabetes risk.
1 Caffeine also depletes bone mineral density, increasing a women’s
risk of osteoporosis,2, 3 and may elevate blood levels of homocysteine, which can measurably
increase your risk of a heart attack.4
So, if this caffeine buzz comes with such a price tag, why do we rely on it so much? Because
we need energy, of course! And, for many busy Americans, false energy works in a pinch. But
the reality is, hyping up on caffeine in the short term can take a toll over time.
One solution is simply moderating your consumption. The key to scaling back painlessly is to compensate with energizing nutrients─which will make the caffeine drug far less “necessary.” Cultivating more genuine energy─from daily fitness, a protein-rich, whole foods diet, and a high- quality multi-vitamin/mineral formula will dramatically reduce your need to falsely stimulate your body. Here’s to feeling great─naturally.
1 Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2010 Apr;67(7 Suppl 3):S9-19.
2 Osteoporos Int. 2006;17(7):1055-64. Epub 2006 May 4.3
3 Am J Epidemiol. 1990 Oct;132(4):675-84.
4 Journal of The American Medical Association, (268(7):877-81)