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Coffee and Caffeine Withdrawal

A good friend of mine recently decided to give up coffee. She is feeling pretty lousy right now so I thought I would talk about caffeine, its effects—good and bad—along with ways to give it up.

The Good

Coffee is not really the villain it is sometimes made out to be. Many studies have suggested that drinking coffee can be a real benefit to your health.

-Coffee can help prevent strokes:

According to a study done at UCLA by lead study author Dr. David Liebeskind, associate who is neurology director at the UCLA Stroke Center, “Coffee use in the adult population is associated with a reduced prevalence of stroke.”

-Coffee can reduce the incidence of Dementia and Alzheimer’s as well as improving the symptoms of the disease once in progress:

The results of the study were published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation in an article entitled, “Caffeine blocks disruption of blood brain barrier in a rabbit model of Alzheimer's disease.” The article states that “Chronic ingestion of caffeine protects against high cholesterol diet-induced increases in disruptions of the BBB, and caffeine and drugs similar to caffeine might be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.”

-Coffee has been linked with a lower risk of oral cavity or throat cancer:

According to the study, “Research indicates that drinking coffee lowers the risk of developing cancer of the oral cavity or throat, at least in the general population of Japan, according to a recent article in American Journal of Epidemiology as reported by Yahoo News. Compared with people who did not drink coffee, those who drank one or more cups per day had half the risk of developing these cancers.”

The Bad

Coffee Can Double Risk of Miscarriage:

“Pregnant women who have two or more cups of caffeinated drinks a day have twice the risk of having a miscarriage than those who avoid caffeine, suggests a new study.”

Coffee 'worsens poor fertility':

According to a story on BBC News, “Too much coffee can reduce the chances of a woman with fertility problems getting pregnant, a study suggests.”

The Ugly

There are many studies that have come out about coffee dating back to its discovery, but it seems that the more studies are done, the more positive qualities are found. But here is one undeniable fact: If you drink regular coffee every day, whether it is one cup or ten, you are bound to suffer withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking it. After all we have to remember that coffee, along with some teas and chocolate as well as energy drinks does contain caffeine; caffeine is a drug and this is one of its side effects.

These symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, nausea and even vomiting. Depending upon the individual, these symptoms can last a day or two or even up to a week. In fact, post-operative headaches, which are a common occurrence after surgery, have been linked to an interruption of the regular intake of caffeine.

How To Decaffeinate—Let Me Count the Ways

How can you reduce or completely give up your caffeine in take without the unpleasant side effects?

-Instead of going “cold turkey”, try reducing your intake of caffeine over time by making a “half and half” blend—half decaf and half caffeinated coffee.

-Reduce the number of cups you drink in a day.

-Try replacing those cups with teas like green tea or even a black or orange pekoe mix like Lipton Brand. While these teas contain caffeine, they don’t contain as much as a cup of coffee.

-Café de Olla La Paz Chiapas Instant Coffee is a satisfying coffee drink but contains much less caffeine than a regular cup.

-Herbal coffees are also a great alternative for the coffee placebo effect but they do not contain caffeine. One alternative coffee is called Teeccino, which contains “a blend of herbs, nuts, fruits and grains that are roasted, ground and brewed just like coffee.”

Sometimes, circumstances dictate that you need to give up coffee immediately. In these instances try to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water and check in with your doctor as to whether you can take an over-the-counter pain killer such as Advil or Tylenol to lessen the unpleasant side effects of giving up your daily brew.


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