While coffee is linked with numerous health benefits like memory boost, better cognitive function, reduced risk of diabetes/heart disease and longer life, it does have the potential to turn you into a caffeine addict. Anything in excess is harmful and too much caffeine consumption can hype up your nervous system and affect your body in many negative ways.
If you are like the 90 percent of adults, then you consume some source of caffeine everyday, either through coffee, tea or sodas.
How Much Caffeine is too Much?
The recommended 400 mg for a healthy adult and 100 mg for an adolescent does not cause problems for most people, but how much coffee is too much differs for each one of us depending on size, gender and our sensitivity to it.
The majority of health and nutrition experts regard any amount more than 600 mg of caffeine a day (equivalent of four to seven cups of coffee) as an overdose for an average person.
Once you’ve decided to go caffeine-free, keep in mind that the journey is not going to be an easy one. But rest assured that it will keep getting better after a few days.
Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms
Caffeine withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as 12-14 hours after your last full caffeine intake and get worse after a 24-48 hour mark. But once you’ve passed this amount of time, your symptoms will reduce and you’ll start feeling better. For some people though, caffeine withdrawal symptoms can last for 7-10 days.
A study published in the Journal of Caffeine Research, showed that approximately 50 percent of individuals undergo caffeine withdrawal symptoms when they cease caffeine consumption, and about 13 percent experience such severe symptoms that may not be able to go to work.
The most common withdrawal symptom is rebound headaches. Other caffeine withdrawal symptoms include:
Reduce Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms (Here's How)
Take it Slow
Slow and steady wins the race! Also stands true if you are trying to cut back on caffeine. Gradual reduction is the ideal way to get caffeine out of your system as it avoids withdrawal symptoms very effectively.
However, some ambitious people might suggest going cold turkey, so if you are willing to go through severe withdrawal symptoms then sure, you can go ahead.
But remember this is not the recommended way.
A John Hopkins study done on caffeine withdrawal, claims a gradual approach as the best way to reduce caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
Cut down on your daily intake of caffeinated beverage by reducing the size of each drink every day. Either decrease the serving size or the number of servings you take daily. For example, if you normally drink 4 cups, drink 3 next day, and then 2, and so on.
Another strategy is to gradually lower the caffeine content of your beverage. You can either switch to half caf, or decaf before quitting permanently.
You can also come up with a plan to cut back on your source of caffeine by 25 percent each week.
Four Week Plan of Attack
So in just two weeks, you will be consuming 50 percent less caffeine, and in a month none at all.
Substituting with less caffeinated beverages is also an effective way to cut back on caffeine. Replace your highly caffeinated beverage with herbal teas as they can also help reduce caffeine withdrawal symptoms, prevent dehydration and headaches.
Switch to green tea, not only is it filled with antioxidants but also contains lesser caffeine i.e. 25 mg per cup compared to 100 mg per cup in an average cup of coffee.
Green tea can also help you prevent caffeine jitters. Chamomile tea is another great alternative. It alleviates drowsiness and shakiness that often occurs after caffeine withdrawal.
As you gradually mellow out caffeine, you might still see some symptoms as your body adjusts to lower levels. Hang in there, you’ve got this!
Nutritional supplements can help you phase out from caffeine withdrawal by reducing some symptoms of lethargy, low alertness and irritability.
Vitamin B and Vitamin C can benefit by helping with fatigue and flu-like symptoms as they have a positive impact on the body’s nervous system.
Minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc also strengthen the liver during caffeine detox and promote your overall well-being.
Use Pain Relievers
Pop a painkiller like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin to relieve headaches and muscle pain symptoms. Make sure it doesn’t contain caffeine, as some painkillers and flu medications have caffeine added to them.
Try limiting the intake of painkillers for the first few days only. Do not rely on them for long-term.
A natural way to relieve caffeine withdrawal headaches is by aromatherapy using essential oils. Inhaling or rubbing them on your skin has been scientifically proven to cure headaches.
In fact, a research showed that rosemary essential oil helps with the symptoms of opium withdrawal, so it can also relieve symptoms of caffeine withdrawal.
Other essential oils that can be used to relieve headaches include peppermint, lavender and chamomile.
Light Exercise and Fibrous Diet
Establishing an exercise or workout routine can improve your energy levels naturally by releasing dopamine. Go for a run in the morning or have a quick workout for an instant energy boost without caffeine.
Remember to start with light exercise first and if you feel fatigued don’t force it.
Focus on eating healthy and make sure you add a lot of antioxidant sources in your diet so as to clear out free radicals created during caffeine detoxification.
Include enough protein and dietary fiber as caffeine withdrawal slows down bowel function. Fiber will promote good digestion and prevent constipation. So make sure you eat enough vegetables and fruits, along with whole grains.
Get Rest and Drink Water
Fatigue and tiredness are very common symptoms of caffeine withdrawal because your body was used to getting energized through it. Lowering your caffeine intake means lower energy.
Take good care of yourself and let your loved ones help you out. Eat healthy and try to be stress-free. Take a few days off work if you can.
Get a massage, meditate and long hot baths to relax. Whenever you feel tired, give yourself permission to take a nap. In fact, get some extra sleep.
Drink lots of water not only to stay hydrated but also to remove toxins out of your liver as you detox from caffeine.
About the Author: Lisa Brown has been helping her readers in successful business and entrepreneurial strategies for the past 3 years. She currently works with uae.ekuep.com, which is the answer to UAE’s growing restaurant industry. Ekuep is the brand that restaurants, bakeries, cafes, juice bars, and more turn to when they want to stock their kitchens with only the best restaurant equipment.