What was once just a cup in the morning to most Americans, has evolved into a few cups, then ten more throughout the day. Coffee, energy drinks, caffeinated gum, sodas, espresso, green tea, and a million other forms of caffeine are what seem to keep the world spinning in today’s fast-paced lifestyle! I personally have a solid dependence on caffeine and outside of an epiphany, I don’t see this changing anytime soon.
The debate of caffeine being a drug is never ending, but if we simply block out the name and observe the effects alone, you may be able to form an educated opinion. A few of the many side effects would include:
- mental stimulation
- vaso-dilation (temporary widening of your veins and arteries)
- increase in heart rate
- alteration of motor skills (sometimes positive and sometimes negative)
- total mood alteration (most often positive however can provoke irritability in excess)
- spiked energy levels
- dehydration and
- jitters or phantom nerve sensations.
How many times do you see a substance that causes this amount of physical and mental change to a person that is not called a medication or drug? Now aside from all these items that I’ve listed, you also must look at the rather overwhelming withdrawals that come with simply missing your morning cup o' Joe. Just to name a few basic ones:
- slowed motor skills
- the sensation of feeling cold (more physiological)
- difficulty focusing
- constipation and
Having made it a point to step away from coffee for one week a year, my hope is to not become fully resistant to the effects of caffeine. For your body to recalibrate its tolerance to caffeine it luckily only takes 7-12 days for you to fully purge any remnant of the substance. This is dependent on how much you do drink but, in most cases the 7 days should suffice and anything past that is just for good measure. There are usually several stages that I go through during this week and some are physically unpleasant, but others are more mind over matter.
Day one: the first day is more about the constant tired feeling that is hard to kick. I usually try and go do some exercise early in the day in order to jump start my body and eat a good wholesome breakfast to be sure my metabolism is rolling, and I have all the nutrients I need. The only thing you may struggle with is the headache that works its way into the picture in the mid-afternoon, but a simple Advil or a handful of almonds may help this (almonds are high in magnesium and relax your blood vessels).
Day two: A bit more aggressive than day one in most of the same ways except you may feel like you have a little hangover. The headaches tend to start earlier, and you may notice a bit tighter muscles or random muscle aches in your legs and back. Going for a run in the morning can help this as you are forcing your body to pump blood and nutrients to all vessels and beta-endorphins are a great vasodilator as well.
Days three-five: At this point, your body knows something is happening so it begins to fight a little bit. The wake ups are still a struggle and the headaches stick around, but spottier now and not as aggressive all of the time. You may need to double check yourself a few times as your thought process isn’t quite as fluid as it normally may be. The largest issue I seemed to notice is a slight depression that seems to hang around through these days. As you are pushing through the physical ailments you begin to notice the “blah” feeling that you can’t seem to kick, and this is where the exercise is truly helpful. Yet again the world of beta-endorphins is a mystical place, and they help as a powerful anti- depressant.
Days six and on: Now that you have fought through the tough parts, your body is in re-coup mode. Your headaches should begin to slow down, and your body will start returning to normal. The depressive feeling may stick around a bit, but this will begin to mellow back out as your natural serotonin begins to normalize. At this point, it is more of a mind over matter concept through these days.
All of this being said, I still love my coffee in the morning and through the day but I do see the benefits to go through this detox once in a while. I want to also make it clear that water is key throughout this process. As coffee is a diuretic, you will feel bloated throughout the detox and water will not be what you want. Be sure to keep drinking water, because it will help with all the ailments and allow your body to re-acclimate faster as good hydration aids in nutrient transport!
I know this post is a bit different, but I hope it was helpful and now you know that if you are a caffeine addict, you are not alone. Coffee in your diet is not something that is detrimental to your health by any means, but as anything with your body, moderation is key. I will say there are some other great benefits to caffeine and you should not shy away from a coffee drink in fear. Remember to “check yourself before you wreck yourself” and be sure to enjoy your coffee and not depend on it!
If you still need to get your fix, stop in either of The Chopping Block's stores for a cup of our own special blend of Intelligetnsia coffee. Intelligentsia is a Chicago-based coffee roaster with a unique roasting style and flavor. Try some!