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ERSOY: The most popular beverage (part 3)

After reading my previous parts to this series on coffee you might feel that you want to try to reduce or quit coffee. Maybe you have tried previously. Here some practical tips that might help.

Continuing to consume coffee despite the knowledge that it is causing or exacerbating health problems, such as stomach ulcers, heart palpitations or anxiety, can indicate addiction. If you suspect you’re addicted to coffee or caffeine, it may be helpful to assess how much caffeine you consume and consider whether it’s affecting your health or daily life.

Gradually reducing your intake, diversifying your sources of energy with a balanced diet, and ensuring adequate sleep can help manage dependency.

Rather than quitting cold turkey, which can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue and irritability, try gradually reducing your caffeine intake. Lower the amount you consume each day or by replace caffeinated drinks with decaffeinated alternatives.

Increasing water intake is crucial and can help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings, and make sure you prioritize sleep. Try replacing your coffee with herbal tea, tasty alternatives like Assam and Gunpowder (green tea) both have caffeine, but less than coffee.

Also understanding that withdrawal symptoms are temporary can help you stick to your plan, so prepare for a few rough days and plan activities that can help you relax and distract you from withdrawal symptoms.

Yes, decaffeinated coffee still contains caffeine, but in much lower amounts than regular coffee. The decaffeination process typically removes about 97 percent to 99 percent of the caffeine, so an 8-ounce cup of decaf still contains about 2 to 5 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, compared with approximately 80 to 100 mg in the same serving of regular coffee.

This small amount of caffeine in decaf coffee usually isn’t enough to affect most people, making it a suitable alternative when looking to reduce caffeine intake. However, for individuals who are particularly sensitive to caffeine or who have been advised to avoid it entirely for health reasons, even the small amount in decaf coffee could potentially cause some mild effects.

If you are looking for coffee alternatives you may like to also try Yerba Mate, a traditional South American drink made from the dried leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant. It is renowned for its unique balance of caffeine, theobromine and theophylline, which are natural stimulants and provide a distinctive type of energy boost compared to coffee and tea, often described as more balanced and less jittery.

In addition to its stimulant properties it contains antioxidants, amino acids, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals, earning praise for its array of health benefits which include enhancing focus, boosting energy and aiding in weight loss.

Yerba Mate still has caffeine, varying depending on how it’s prepared, but generally less than coffee yet more than most teas. On average, an 8-ounce serving contains between 30 to 50mg of caffeine, compared to about 95 mg in the same amount of coffee.

What about plant toxicity?

Green (un-roasted) coffee beans contain higher levels of chlorogenic acid and caffeine compared to roasted beans. High consumption of green coffee beans has been linked to similar side effects as excessive caffeine intake, such as nervousness, upset stomach, increased heart rate, and trouble sleeping.

There is also a risk of caffeine overdose if a large amount is consumed. The roasting process reduces some of the chlorogenic acid and other compounds, however the caffeine content remains significant. Normal consumption as a beverage is generally safe for most adults, but excessive consumption can lead to caffeine-related side effects.

Coffee leaves have traditionally been used in some cultures for their medicinal properties, and recent studies suggest they contain antioxidants and might offer health benefits. However, they also contain caffeine, though in lower quantities than the beans. The toxicity risk from consuming coffee leaves, such as brewing them for tea, is low for most people but the caffeine content still needs to be considered, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine.

Usually the coffee plant is not considered highly toxic. The main concern would be the caffeine content, which can be problematic in high doses. Coffee plants don’t contain the more dangerous toxins found in many purely ornamental plants or wild species known for their high toxicity levels. Although, ideally choosing organic coffee option as possible always the best.

I hope I did not make you nervous about consuming coffee, however like almost everything we have a limit that we are able to handle, so be cautious and be aware of the side effects if you see any. Lastly, make sure you are honest with yourself too.

References:

• Balance Coffee. “Coffee Consumption Statistics (Simple Stats For Journalists)”: https://balancecoffee.co.uk/blogs/blog/global-coffee-consumption-statistics

• Food and Beverage Insider. “Coffee consumption hits record high in US”: https://www.foodbeverageinsider.com/beverage-development/coffee-consumption-hits-record-high-in-us

• NCA. “NCA releases Atlas of American Coffee”: https://www.ncausa.org/newsroom/nca-releases-atlas-of-american-coffee

• Alcohol and Drug Foundation. “What is caffeine?”: https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/caffeine/

• Kids Health. “Caffeine”: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/child-caffeine.html

• European Food Safety Authority. “Scientific Opinion on the safety of caffeine”: https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2015.4102

• The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “Caffeine and bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women”: https://ajcn.nutrition.org/article/S0002-9165(23)18480-2/abstract

• AmeriSleep. “Six Reasons Coffee Can Make You Sleepy”: https://amerisleep.com/blog/coffee-makes-me-sleepy/

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Ayda Ersoy is a nutritionist (Dip.C.N., Dip.S.N.); master trainer (CPT ACE, NCSF, CanfitPro); registered yoga teacher; founder, Health Angel Nutrition, Fitness and Wellness; and founder, SMS (Stability, Mobility Strength) Intuitive Training System.
Source: The Garden Island

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