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August 23, 2019 Peggy Liu

Eight benefits of limiting caffeine intake

Cutting back on your caffeine intake can be difficult, but you might find that it's worth it in the long run.

Coffee. Tea. Energy drinks. Soda. Chocolate. Many of us enjoy consuming one (or more) of these things for pleasure, just as we need them to help us power through a busy work or school day. This is a pretty common inclination for people across the globe; caffeine is consumed by 80 percent of the world’s population and caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea are a beloved part of many cultures. 

It’s pretty common for people to consume caffeine to aid in mental stamina, but consuming too much too often comes with certain health-related, financial, and even psychological consequences. In part, this is because it’s difficult to track how much caffeine we’re putting into our bodies. The recommended amount of caffeine per day ranges from 200-400 milligrams depending on a person’s age, caffeine sensitivity, and health. However, just one tall (12oz) Starbuck’s brewed coffee contains roughly 260 milligrams of caffeine and many of us consume more than that on a regular basis. 

(You can calculate your personal caffeine limit here.)

Before you pour that second, third, or fourth cup of coffee, consider these eight benefits of cutting back on your caffeine intake.

1. Reduce anxiety

The energy boost that comes with caffeine can sometimes cause heart palpitations, especially if you drink too much or consume it on an empty stomach. This then leads to feelings of anxiety or even panic attacks in more severe cases. In addition, caffeine also raises cortisol levels, which contributes to more feelings of stress.

2. Lower blood pressure

The stimulating effects of caffeine also touches on the body’s nervous system, leading to health risks like higher blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

3. Save money

Nowadays, coffee and tea are not a cheap drinks. Many serious coffee roasters and cafes use independently roasted coffee beans and offer artisan beverages that fluff up the prices. Add the numerous modifications and additions that are now available, and you can expect to pay a pretty price for a single beverage.

Here’s to one last cup.

4. Consume less sugar

Dairy-free milk alternatives, syrups, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and even ice cream (for affogatos) don’t merely pack on extra dollars, they also pack on extra calories and sugar. Not every cafe offers a nutrition chart for their menu items, so it can be hard to pinpoint how much sugar you’re actually consuming.

5. Balance your hormones

For women, consuming caffeine can affect estrogen levels, worsen menopause symptoms, and even increase the chances of infertility.

6. Suffer fewer headaches

Becoming dependent on caffeine means your body needs a shot of it every 12-24 hours. Removing it from your diet or drinking less of it can cause irritability, fatigue, headaches, and reduce concentration. 

7. Have better digestion

Drinking coffee can create a laxative effect, especially when consumed on an empty stomach. Often, this is accompanied by an upset tummy and dehydration.

8. Sleep better

Over-consumption of caffeine is commonly known to cause insomnia, and we all know how important it is to get a good night’s rest to perform well during the day.

There’s no denying that opting for a cup of coffee when you’re feeling tired can be extremely tempting, but it’s important to be mindful of what you’re putting into your body and the reason you’re doing it. It’s all too easy to slip into a caffeine addiction and forget about the potential consequences. 

That being said, if you do choose to cut back on caffeine, expect that the process will initially be unpleasant. Just keep in mind that the benefits of overall long-term productivity and wellness may be worth it. Plus, exercising self-control can be good for your mental health and self image: it’s always empowering to know that you don’t have to depend on something in order to succeed. 

Peggy Liu

Peggy Liu is a freelance writer and content creator and editor. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in English Literature, where she was also a mental health columnist for the student newspaper. When she isn't digging her way to the bottom of a peanut butter jar or petting friendly dogs around Vancouver, she can be found sitting in cafes with a notebook and a cup of coffee.