Caffeine/Coffee Avoidance

Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate and some soft drinks. One cup of coffee has 107mg of caffeine, one cup of tea has 34mg, and one glass of cola has 47mg, assuming all are caffeinated beverages.

Over half the population of the U.S. drinks at least two cups of coffee a day. 25% of coffee drinkers consume about five cups daily, and another 25% drink ten or more cups a day. Coffee is not just a beverage, it’s a drug. Hundreds of thousands of law abiding citizens are physically addicted to coffee.

It is the caffeine in coffee which makes it addictive, and which accounts for most of the known adverse effects of coffee. However, there are hundreds of other chemicals in coffee. Caffeine is a carcinogen, but coffee contains numerous other ones, created by the high heat of roasting, such as creosote, pymdine, tars and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The darker the roast, the greater the potential hazard.

Quitting coffee “cold turkey” can cause mild to severe headaches as well as nausea, anxiety, fatigue and depression, lasting for several days. One method to avoid this is to gradually decrease the amount of coffee you drink by 50% each day. Another way is to keep to your usual number of cups and gradually increase the amount of decaf until it reaches 100%. Eventually you’ll feel more awake and have a more even energy level throughout the day than when you were drinking coffee. A few weeks or months after quitting, most people come to realize that they feel much better without the coffee habit. Then most people can enjoy a cup of coffee on occasion when a boost is really needed, without triggering a recurrence of the craving that one feels when it is consumed regularly.

Excessive coffee intake will also exacerbate the withdrawal symptoms when quitting smoking. This will make it harder for those who need to quit smoking.

There are coffee substitutes available at health food stores or on the Internet such as Soyfee.

 


Caffeine/Coffee Avoidance can help with the following

Addictions  

Trichotillomania

See the link between Trichotillomania and Sugar Avoidance.



Aging  

Parkinson's Disease / Risk

A team of researchers examined the relationship between coffee intake and the incidence of Parkinson’s disease among 8,004 Japanese-American men over a 30 year period. Of these men, 102 developed Parkinson’s disease. The incidence of Parkinson’s disease was found to be lower in those who drank coffee. In fact, the men who drank the most coffee were the least likely to get Parkinson’s disease. Men who did not drink any coffee were five times more likely to exhibit symptoms of Parkinson’s disease than men who drank more than 28 ounces of coffee each day. Caffeine from other sources such as green tea, black tea, chocolate and soda was also associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Caffeine belongs to the xanthine chemical group. A naturally occurring xanthine in the brain called adenosine is used as a neurotransmitter at some synapses. When adenosine receptors are blocked, levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine increase. Caffeine may protect against Parkinson’s disease by blocking adenosine receptors, thus increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain.

Although the new research is suggestive of a link between caffeine and Parkinson’s disease, it is too early to say that caffeine will prevent Parkinson’s disease. Perhaps the brains of people who like and dislike coffee are different, with differing rates of Parkinson’s. Also, the study included older, Japanese-American men. It is unknown if this caffeine/Parkinson disease relationship holds for other ethnic groups, women and younger people.



 

Senior Issues

Postmenopausal women who drink coffee regularly have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes when compared to women who never drink coffee, say researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Apparently, the health benefit is even more marked if the coffee is decaffeinated. According to Mark Pereira, Ph.D. and team, postmenopausal women who consumed six cups of coffee or more each day lowered their chances of developing type 2 diabetes by 22%. The scientists found that the diabetes risk continued to drop as regular consumption increased. [Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:1311-1316.]



Allergy  


 

Post Nasal Drip

Eliminating caffeine from the diet may be helpful.



Autoimmune  

Hyperthyroidism

Caffeine can worsen symptoms such as fast heartbeat, nervousness, and difficulty concentrating.



 

Scleroderma

Caffeine, cocaine, marijuana, nicotine, novacaine and many herbs and medications restrict blood flow by constricting blood vessels. This could increase the incidence of Raynaud’s. In Raynaud’s with Scleroderma there may be blood vessel scarring which can make medication ineffective.



Circulation  

Arrhythmias/Dysrhythmias

Preventicular contractions (PVCs) can be caused by caffeine.



 


 

Anemia (Iron deficiency)

Research has shown that drinking coffee causes a significant loss of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B and C, calcium, iron, and zinc.



 

Increased Risk of Stroke

Coffee, including decaf, contains significant amounts of Vitamin K which is an important factor for blood coagulation. People at high risk for blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks should avoid coffee and decaf for this reason.



 

Hypertension

An increased risk of developing hypertension was associated with drinking five or more cups of coffee per day in a large study of former white male medical students followed for an average of 33 years. [Arch Intern Med 2002;162(6): pp.657-662]



Diet  


 


 


Digestion  


 

Gastric/Peptic Ulcers

Since coffee stimulates gastric acid secretion, moderation in coffee consumption is often recommended.



Habits  


Hormones  

Low Adrenal Function / Adrenal Insufficiency

Caffeine raises adrenaline levels and heavy coffee consumption can lead to a state of adrenal gland exhaustion, where the adrenal glands are no longer able to adequately respond to stress by releasing enough adrenaline.



Immunity  


Infections  

Cystitis, Bacterial Bladder Infection

Coffee, soda and other caffeinated beverages may irritate the bladder lining and are not recommended.



Mental  

Anxiety

Caffeine can cause adrenal insufficiency which in turn can lead to anxiety.



 

Panic Attacks

Coffee can cause adrenal insufficiency which in turn can lead to panic attacks.



Metabolic  

Insomnia

People suffering from insomnia often have elevated caffeine levels compared to normal sleepers. They may have as much as 40% of the caffeine they consumed in the morning still in their system at bedtime. [Psychopharmacology 1995; 121: pp.494-502]



 

Hypoglycemia

Avoid all soft drinks, coffee, tea, artificial colors and additives.



 

Headaches, Cluster

When painkillers or caffeine are taken daily, the drugs may lose effectiveness over time and headaches can become more frequent. When stopping the medication, a rebound headache can occur. Rebound headaches are frequently caused by dietary caffeine.

Both migraine and cluster headaches are associated with heavy caffeine intake, and caffeine withdrawal can cause a headache resembling a migraine. However, many people find that caffeine will help reduce the severity of a cluster headache. In some of these cases it is suspected that heavy use, temporarily suspended, causes a headache which can be aborted by renewed caffeine consumption. Caffeine is a constrictor of dilated arteries and should best be avoided as a dietary staple in vascular headaches.



Musculo-Skeletal  

Gout / Hyperuricemia

Intake of diuretics (chiefly coffee and alcohol) should be reduced/avoided as far as possible.



 


Nervous System  

Tremors

Although commonly believed that caffeine can cause or make tremors worse in those who are sensitive, one small study showed that it not only fails to increase tremor size but also fails to increase perception of the tremor that already exists. [Tremor (1990), pp. 140-141]



Nutrients  

Calcium Requirement

Research has shown that drinking coffee causes a significant loss of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B and C, calcium, iron, and zinc.



 

Zinc Requirement

Research has shown that drinking coffee causes a significant loss of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B and C, calcium, iron, and zinc.



 

Iron Requirement

Research has shown that drinking coffee causes a significant loss of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B and C, calcium, iron, and zinc.



 

Multiple Mineral, General Requirement

Research has shown that drinking coffee causes a significant loss of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B and C, calcium, iron, and zinc.



 

Vitamin B Complex Requirement

Research has shown that drinking coffee causes a significant loss of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B and C, calcium, iron, and zinc.



 

Multiple Vitamin Need

Research has shown that drinking coffee causes a significant loss of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B and C, calcium, iron, and zinc.



 

Vitamin C Deficiency

Research has shown that drinking coffee causes a significant loss of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B and C, calcium, iron, and zinc.



Organ Health  

Glaucoma/Risk

Based on the experimental evidence, caffeine use is not a factor to be concerned about in glaucoma management. [Editorial in Ophthalmology, 1990; 97( 8): pp.965 – 6]

However, a single dose of caffeinated coffee (but not decaffeinated coffee) can increase intraocular pressure in persons with glaucoma. [ Ann Pharmacother 2002;36(6): pp.992-5]



 

Prostatitis

See the link between Prostatits and Spicy Food Avoidance.



 


 

Enlarged Prostate

Coffee consumption was found associated with an increased risk of BPH in a study of 882 randomly selected men 65-80 years old. [BJU Int 2002;90(7): pp.649-54]



Risks  

Increased Risk of Coronary Disease / Heart Attack

Coffee, including decaf, contains significant amounts of Vitamin K which is an important factor for blood coagulation. People at high risk for blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks should avoid coffee and decaf for this reason.



 

Increased Risk of Bladder Cancer

Studies linking coffee consumption with cancer are conflicting and inconclusive at this point, but there is a suggestion of a higher incidence of cancers of the pancreas, ovaries, bladder, and kidneys in coffee drinkers.



 

Increased Risk of Lymphoma

The consumption of coffee, tea and cola were all positively correlated with a higher risk of NHL.



 

Increased Risk of Hypertension

Caffeine raises the production of the adrenal hormone cortisol, which causes the blood vessels to constrict and the heart to pump harder, which leads to high blood pressure. Studies have shown that coffee seems to worsen the symptoms of persons with high blood pressure, and can nullify the effect of high blood pressure medications, making expensive drugs useless.

An increased risk of developing hypertension was associated with drinking five or more cups of coffee per day in a large study of former white male medical students followed for an average of 33 years. [Arch Intern Med 2002;162(6): pp.657-662]



 

Increased Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

Studies linking coffee consumption with cancer are conflicting and inconclusive at this point, but there is a suggestion of a higher incidence of cancers of the pancreas, ovaries, bladder, and kidneys in coffee drinkers.



 

Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer

Studies linking coffee consumption with cancer are conflicting and inconclusive at this point, but there is a suggestion of a higher incidence of cancers of the pancreas, ovaries, bladder, and kidneys in coffee drinkers.



 

Increased Risk of Kidney Cancer

Studies linking coffee consumption with cancer are conflicting and inconclusive at this point, but there is a suggestion of a higher incidence of cancers of the pancreas, ovaries, bladder, and kidneys in coffee drinkers.



Skin-Hair-Nails  

Rosacea

Avoid coffee, alcohol, hot beverages, spicy foods and any other food or drink that causes flushing.



Uro-Genital  

Motherhood Issues

Coffee should absolutely be avoided during breast feeding. Fetuses and newborns cannot metabolize caffeine in their livers, so it remains in their bodies for up to four days, stimulating their nervous system the entire time, causing irritability and sleeping difficulty.



 

Possible Pregnancy-Related Issues

Human studies have found an increase in the rate of miscarriages, stillbirths, breech births and low birth weight when given in doses greater than 300mg (an amount equal to three cups of coffee) per day. Pregnant women are also three times slower to metabolize caffeine than nonpregnant women. Therefore, it is recommended that pregnant women consume less than this amount – in fact some doctors say that coffee should be completely avoided during pregnancy and breast feeding.

Fetuses and newborns cannot metabolize caffeine in their livers, so it remains in their bodies for up to four days, stimulating their nervous system the entire time, causing irritability and sleeping difficulty. In addition, the use of large amounts of caffeine by a mother during pregnancy may cause problems with the heart rhythm of the fetus.

Studies in animals have linked high blood levels of caffeine to premature birth, delivery complications, low birth weight and birth defects when given in very large doses (amounts equal to 12 to 24 cups of coffee a day), and with bone growth problems when given in smaller doses.



 

Premenstrual Syndrome / PMDD

Several studies have linked caffeine consumption to a higher incidence of PMS symptoms including tension, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance and breast tenderness. Some of coffee’s components have a mild estrogen-like effect on the body. Since estrogen is responsible for premenstrual syndrome and breast tenderness, this may be one reason why coffee aggravates these conditions.



 

Male Infertility (Low Sperm Count)

Research has indicated that men who drank two to three cups of coffee a day had an increased incidence of abnormally formed sperm. Having five cups a day appears to make sperm sluggish as well.



 


 

Fibrocystic Breasts

Dietary changes may be helpful: Long term and complete avoidance of caffeine reduces symptoms of fibrocystic breasts. Caffeine is found in coffee, black and green tea, cola drinks, chocolate, and a number of OTC drugs. The decrease in breast tenderness can take six months or more to occur after caffeine is eliminated. Breast lumpiness may not go away, but the pain often decreases.

Many doctors are confused about the effects of caffeine on breast tissue because, at first glance, the research appears contradictory. When researchers tell women to cut back or to eliminate caffeine for less than six months, results are unimpressive. Moreover, for every study that says fibrocystic disease patients do not drink more coffee than other women do, there is a study that says otherwise. More important, the original research did not claim that fibrocystic patients drink much coffee, only that they are especially sensitive to the coffee they do drink.

Twins with similar or identical genes should be affected similarly by caffeine. Research has been done studying the effects of caffeine on breast symptoms in twins. In that report, the twin with symptoms was more likely be the coffee drinker. This evidence clearly supports the idea that coffee drinking can affect breast symptoms in some women.



 


 

Female Infertility

Research has indicated that women who drank more than one cup of coffee a day reduced their likelihood of conceiving by 50%, and men who drank two to three cups of coffee a day had an increased incidence of abnormally formed sperm. Having five cups a day appears to make sperm sluggish as well.



 

Interstitial Cystitis

Keeping a voiding diary and record of suspected foods which have been consumed can be helpful. The list of possible offenders includes alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, citrus, tomatoes and spicy foods. Any or all of these should be eliminated to see if IC symptoms will be reduced.



 

Susceptibility To Miscarriages

Some substances – including caffeine and pesticides – easily cross the placenta from the woman’s body to her fetus. Their impact on pregnancy is not entirely understood. Caffeine stays in a pregnant woman’s body much longer than in non-pregnant healthy adults, and in newborns even longer. A study of 3,135 pregnant women showed that moderate-to-heavy caffeine users (those who had at least 151mg daily) were more likely to have late first- or second-trimester spontaneous abortions compared with nonusers or light users. Light caffeine use (1 to 150mg daily) increased risk for abortion only in women who had a history of previous spontaneous abortion. Coffee was the main source of caffeine in moderate-to-heavy users. Light users were more likely to get caffeine from tea and other sources. [American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 154: pp.14-20, 1986]

In addition researchers have recently reported that higher caffeine intake may be related to higher levels of homocysteine. This may in turn contribute to the increased risk of spontaneous abortion in moderate coffee drinkers, but further research is needed.



 

Urinary Stress/Overactive Bladder

Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea, and cola, may have the effect of causing the bladder to fill more rapidly. These products contain methylxanthines, or diuretics, which can make you urinate.



 


Key

May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended
May have adverse consequences

Glossary

Milligram

(mg): 1/1,000 of a gram by weight.

Carcinogen

Any agent that is cancer-causing.

Nausea

Symptoms resulting from an inclination to vomit.

Anxiety

Apprehension of danger, or dread, accompanied by nervous restlessness, tension, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath unrelated to a clearly identifiable stimulus.

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