We pride ourselves on being an ethical, responsible company. Sometimes, being responsible means talking about the things we don’t like to admit. Today, we are going there, to the dark side. Today, we are discussing the telltale signs of excessive caffeine consumption.
While coffee has countless mental, physical, and emotion benefits if consumed in moderation*– from extended life expectancy to increased happiness, improved memory, and protection against numerous debilitating diseases, excessive coffee consumption can lead to pain, nervousness, and in severe cases, death. If you find yourself obsessively consuming caffeine or notice yourself regularly suffering from any of the below listed symptoms as a direct result of drinking coffee (i.e., within 30 minutes to 4 hours of consuming coffee), we recommend you put down your cup, scroll down, and take the necessary steps to salubrious sipping.
Signs of over-consumption
The body speaks. The first step in identifying over-consumption is to take heed of the messages your body and brain are sending. Coffee is a stimulant and while that can be a great thing, too much caffeine can create an adrenaline hormone imbalance manifesting in the form of heart palpitations**, muscle twitching, or hand tremors. In addition to physical symptoms, over-consumers may also suffer emotional symptoms. Consumed moderately, coffee can reduce stress levels; consumed excessively, coffee can increase anxiety and nervousness when the body’s caffeine content is at its peak and irritability, mental fogginess, and possibly dizziness as the caffeine metabolizes and the body enters withdrawal. At excessive, near-overdose levels, you may also start hallucinating.
Next up, intestinal issues! While moderate coffee consumption can work wonders on the body — from boosting matabolism and helping prevent against numerous cancers, too much can lead to some serious gastrointestinal issues, including severe stomach aches and diuresis (the need to urinate). Coffee is a mild laxative and while moderate amounts are unlikely to upset your stomach, too much can force food through the intestines too quickly leading to diarrhea and acid reflux. In rare (severe) cases, excessive coffee consumption can cause rhabdomyolysis, where dead muscle fibers enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc on the kidneys.
If you suffer from any of the above symptoms but can’t definitively say they are caffeine-induced, test yourself. Self-testing is an easy, at-home, absolutely horrific experience where you simply abstain from coffee for a day. If your body begins to show signs of withdrawal (nausea, fever, dizziness, foggy thinking, vomiting, headaches, hallucinations, chest pain, and insomnia), you are likely an over-consumer of caffeine. As much as we LOVE that you drink coffee, over-consumption is a serous problem and while extremely rare, obsessive consumers can die from a caffeine overdose. According to Medical News Today, in 2018, there were 92 caffeine-related deaths.
All Game of Thrones fans out there know what we say to the God of Death. Not today. If you fear you may be suffering for caffeine addiction, here’s what you can do to adopt healthy, health-boosting coffee consumption habits.
The path to recovery
The first step to healthy sipping? Cut back on the caffeine. We know this is obvious and challenging so we’ve created a checklist for you!
Stick to a 6-ounce cup. That large, steaming mug of coffee may speak to you in the morning but that generous mug likely contains 12 – 16 ounces of coffee. We recommend dropping down to a 6-ounce cup and refilling as needed.
Use a half-the-caffeination blend of regular and decaffeinated coffee or swap some of your fully caffeinated cups for a delicious decaf.
Use a high grade coffee. High grade arabica beans generally contain 1.2% to 1.5% caffeine while robusta beans generally contain 2.2% to 2.7% caffeine.
Start moving! Caffeine increases adrenaline in the body and your body may start to notice its absence as you cut back on coffee. Exercise also ups the adrenaline in your body so, next time you are craving a cup because you feel foggy or sluggish, do some jumping jacks or another activity that elevates your heart rate and increases your adrenaline level.
We hope that this entry has confirmed that you are not a caffeine over-consumer but if you are, and you are ready to take those first steps towards healthy sipping, we’re here for you. We are here if you just need to vent and yell at someone because you really, really want that pot of coffee or if you would like some recommendations on low-caffeine coffee options.
To learn more about coffee and health, check out our Wellness Series.
*The Mayo Clinic defines moderate consumption as 400 milligrams (14 ounces) per day as moderate caffeine consumption. It is also important to note that a) caffeine is found in many foods and beverages, not just coffee and b) everyone metabolizes caffeine differently so it is important to listen to self-assess and determine your personal tolerance level.
**Studies found that those who consume 6+ cups of caffeinated coffee per day, increase their risk of cardiovascular disease by 22%.