Give up coffee? Who, me? Why should I stop drinking coffee when I like the taste of coffee? Can someone really be addicted to caffeine in coffee? Maybe, maybe not, depending on which research studies and health experts you believe. Almost every morning I enjoy two or three cups of home-brewed coffee to start my day, and it’s not uncommon for me to have two more cups of coffee at night while writing or watching television, especially on cold winter nights.
If drinking a freshly brewed cup of coffee or two first thing in the morning doesn’t give you a jolt of energy to get your day started, reading the “evidence” about how caffeine is addictive and all the reasons why you or I should stop drinking coffee will be enough to give you jitters that last all day long. If the amount of coffee and tea I drink on a daily basis makes me a caffeine addict, then coffee addiction is an addiction I’m content to accept being what it is.
Are you a caffeine addict? Are you one of millions of Americans who kick-start their day getting a Starbucks coffee caffeine fix one or more times a day? I haven’t been to a Starbucks coffee shop in years because, as you know, you can make coffee at home and it’s a lot cheaper than buying coffee at 7-11 or Starbucks. I’m not even sure how much a cup of coffee at Starbucks costs these days, but I can think of many other more important things to do with my money than spending it on an expensive Starbucks latte or espresso.
Why Give Up Coffee or Caffeine?
Reading health-related articles that talk about the need for coffee drinkers to understand the effects caffeine has on a person’s body and advice to stop drinking coffee completely is enough to give me a headache, and I’m not referring to the kind of caffeine addiction commonly referred to as caffeine intoxication that can lead to death. Death caused by drinking coffee? Seems that way, especially if you are prone to drinking a lot of coffee in rapid succession, consuming too much caffeine and/or taking caffeine pills that may lead to an overdose of caffeine which can be lethal in extreme cases.
Researchers say caffeine intoxication or “caffeine overdose” can lead to a condition called caffeinism, bringing about a variety of physical and mental conditions that include nervousness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, muscle twitching and heart palpitations, and that’s just for starters. Overdosing on caffeine or coffee kind of reminds me of hot dog eating contests, where contestants cram as many hot dogs down their gullet as humanly possible without killing themselves or becoming sick to their stomach, but who would drink 80-100 cups of coffee that quickly?!
There are just as many articles talking about the health benefits of coffee, tea and sodas etc (saying the caffeine content found in many foods and drinks we choose to consume are good for us) as there are “caffeine addiction” articles telling people to quit caffeine once and for all, including a large number of reported reasons why caffeine is bad for you.
Is caffeine bad for you or is caffeine good for you? People who consume caffeine on a regular basis, but say they are not addicted to caffeine and don’t experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms, will inevitably be told they are fooling themselves about their caffeine addiction because they have supposedly built up a tolerance to caffeine which can still be dangerous to your health.
Common Sources of Caffeine
Included amongst the most common sources of caffeine are coffee, tea, cocoa beans, chocolate, soft drinks and energy drinks. Caffeine is also present in some over-the-counter pain relievers, cold medications, chocolate pudding, coffee flavored yogurt and diet pills, just to name a few. Coffee drinkers who want to give up caffeine by switching to decaf should know that decaffeinated coffee isn’t completely free of caffeine either.
Some articles recommend that people wanting to live a longer life by incorporating a healthy lifestyle into their daily routine should stop drinking coffee cold turkey, only to be countered by other articles talking about the harmful effects of quitting cold turkey. Quitting coffee cold turkey is said to bring about some nasty side effects and withdrawal symptoms including headaches, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, depressed mood and difficulty concentrating.
Hello? Why can’t the so-called health experts simply make up their minds and provide solid evidence of their findings for us all to make an informed choice of our own, instead of being so contradictory and all over the map? There are a lot of myths associated with caffeine that even health experts can’t seem to agree on, and some of the so-called facts about caffeine and what happens inside your body when you consume too much caffeine borders on the ridiculous.
Just for fun, I took an online quiz to find out if I am addicted to coffee and the results of the silly test came back as I expected. I am not a coffee addict, nor do I experience any of the so-called withdrawal symptoms reported by those who claim to be caffeine addicts and are now trying to quit. On days where I don’t drink coffee or consume caffeinated drinks at all, I don’t get headaches or any other withdrawal symptoms others have said they experience.
Research studies and reports by doctors and scientists about the effects of coffee drinking and caffeine on the body can’t seem to come to any real decisive conclusion, so if you are trying to decide if you are a coffee addict or feel you should quit drinking coffee, gradually cutting back on caffeine is apparently the best way to quit caffeine.
Perhaps it would be too much to ask, but it would be nice if health experts would finally get their facts straight about caffeine consumption and what effect the various sources of caffeine in food and carbonated caffeine drinks actually has on consumers once and for all. Until there are solid reasons to stop drinking coffee entirely, I’m going to continue defending my coffee habit and keep on enjoying my coffee in moderation, like right now.