Should you be cutting down on coffee?

– An article by UCO Associate Osteopath, Alexandra Orfanides – 


Are you one of the millions of coffee drinkers in the UK who – at an average of 12 cups a week [5] – might be having too much of a good thing?

Sure, it might perk you up in the short-term, but it's important to be aware of the many adverse side-effects of too many trips to the coffee shop.

If you feel like you've become addicted to coffee, taking a break to quash the physiological dependency might be just the thing you need to decrease your stress levels and improve your health!

Read below for tips and tricks to manage coming off coffee and to acquire the many associated health benefits!

1) Gradually reduce your intake to minimise withdrawal symptoms

  • Coffee (or more specifically, caffeine) withdrawal is real, and it's no fun.
  • Symptoms include headache, fatigue, depressed mood, irritability, flu-like symptoms, nausea, constipation, muscle stiffness, and joint pains [10]

2) Know what to expect and be prepared

  • Day 1: consider getting some caffeine-free coffee alternative beverages to get you through the day, such as burdock root tea or dandelion tea
  • Day 2: this will likely be the worst of it. Try to practice self-care during this time and be patient with yourself 
  • Days 3+: symptoms will now start to gradually decrease, although you may feel under-the-weather for up to 2 weeks

3) Your body will thank you! Less caffeine will aid:

  • lowered blood pressure [7]
  • increased sleep quality and quantity [6] [9] [4]
  • lowered anxiety [11]
  • healthier and brighter teeth [8]
  • lowered stress levels [3] [12]
  • better digestion [2]

Remember that the stimulating effects of coffee are reduced massively by drinking it too often. Being in-control of your coffee consumption lets you choose how and when you want to benefit from coffee, and when you want to benefit from taking a break. Consider switching to green tea for your morning beverage of choice, since it contains a wide array of healthy antioxidants and amino acids in addition to the caffeine hit.

And remember, we are here to help! Your Associate Osteopath will be happy to discuss with you whether or not reducing your caffeine intake is the right decision for you, and the various ways that they can work with you to support you during this time. You can also book to see a dietitian in our new Integrated Nutrition & Dietetics clinic to discuss a nutritional support plan tailored to your unique needs.

To book an appointment at the UCO Clinic, call 020 7089 5360 or email clinicappointments@uco.ac.uk


References

1. BBC Two - Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, Series 1 - Is coffee good or bad for me? (2019). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/33ZMcgqDsFpvCBvPHlYDcNT/is-cof...

2. Boekema, J., Samsom, M., van Berge Henegouwen, G. AJPM Smout, P. (1999). Coffee and gastrointestinal function: facts and fiction: a review. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 34(230), 35-39.

3. Corti, R., Binggeli, C., Sudano, I., Spieker, L., Hänseler, E., Ruschitzka, F., ... & Noll, G. (2002). Coffee acutely increases sympathetic nerve activity and blood pressure independently of caffeine content: role of habitual versus nonhabitual drinking. Circulation, 106(23), 2935-2940.

4. Drake, C., Roehrs, T., Shambroom, J., & Roth, T. (2013). Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 9(11), 1195-1200.

5. Gimoka. (2019). Coffee In The UK [INFOGRAPHIC]. Retrieved from https://www.gimokacoffee.com/news/coffee-in-the-uk-infographic.html

6. Higbee, M. R., Chilton, J. M., el-Saidi, M., Duke, G., & Haas, B. K. (2019). Nurses Consuming Energy Drinks Report Poorer Sleep and Higher Stress. Western journal of nursing research, 0193945919840991.

7. James, J. E. (2004). Critical review of dietary caffeine and blood pressure: a relationship that should be taken more seriously. Psychosomatic medicine, 66(1), 63-71.

8. Kuhn, M., & Türp, J. C. (2018). Risk factors for bruxism. Swiss dental journal, 128(2), 118-124.

9. O’Callaghan, F., Muurlink, O., & Reid, N. (2018). Effects of caffeine on sleep quality and daytime functioning. Risk management and healthcare policy, 11, 263.

10. Sajadi-Ernazarova, K. R., & Hamilton, R. J. (2017). Caffeine, Withdrawal. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.

11. Xu, T. J., & Reichelt, A. C. (2018). Sucrose or sucrose and caffeine differentially impact memory and anxiety-like behaviours, and alter hippocampal parvalbumin and doublecortin. Neuropharmacology, 137, 24-32.

12. Yamada, Y., Nakazato, Y., & Ohga, A. (1989). The mode of action of caffeine on catecholamine release from perfused adrenal glands of cat. British journal of pharmacology, 98(2), 351-356.

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