6 Things Your Doctor Wishes You Knew About Caffeine

Step away from the espresso.

For many of us, life completely sans caffeine will probably never be a thing. But keeping a lid on your intake could do all kinds of good stuff for your body. Here's everything your doctor wish you knew about the busy person's drug of choice.

1. Even a morning coffee can ruin your sleep

We all know that having energy drink as a night cap is going to keep us up all night shaking, but caffeine at any time of day can interfere with your kip.

"Because caffeine is a stimulant and the effects can last up to 24 hours, it can interfere with the process of falling asleep," explains Christina Merryfield, lead dietitian at Bupa Cromwell Hospital. "If you are having sleeping problems then you need to limit your consumption, especially in the afternoon and evening.

2. It can be bad for your bones

If you're drinking more than four cups of coffee a day, you're going to need to pee more, which can make you lose calcium.

Christina says: "Nutrients such as calcium, are essential for bone health which can help reduce the risk of bone fractures later in life. Good sources are dairy, leafy vegetables, nuts, and fish where you eat the bones like sardines."

But rather than upping your calcium intake to counteract the effects, the advice is, alas, to decrease your caffeine.

3. Caffeine can impact your mental health

Caffeine can make you super alert but, depending on your tolerance and how much coffee you're necking, it can also make you feel anxious, irritable and jittery.

The NHS advises that people with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) avoid caffeine altogether.

This is what NHS Choices says about caffeine and anxiety:

"Caffeine can disrupt your sleep and also speed up your heartbeat. If you are tired, you are less likely to be able to control your anxious feelings.

"Avoiding drinks containing caffeine - such as coffee, tea, fizzy drinks and energy drinks - may help reduce your anxiety levels."

4. It isn't the only stimulant you need to watch out for

Drinks containing caffeine are often packed with other stimulants as well. Opting for sugar-free drinks, and watching out for extra stimulants, can cut negative health effects.

Christina says:

"Taurine, guarana and ginseng are other ingredients which may be found in caffeinated drinks, particularly in energy drinks, in addition to caffeine. These may have mild stimulant effects. Energy drinks may also be high in sugar which can also provide a short term energy boost."

5. Avoid a dinnertime cuppa

"Tea and coffee consumed with a meal can reduce the absorption of iron from your food," says Christina.

If you don't consume enough iron you can get tired easily and feel short of breath. Heavy periods can also put you at greater risk of becoming iron deficient.

6. You really do develop a tolerance

We joke about Starbucks addiction but your body does actually end up needing more and more caffeine to give you the same buzz.

Christina explains:

"If you regularly drink large quantities of caffeine - say, five or more cups of coffee a day - you may find your tolerance increases and that you need to drink even more to get the same stimulant effect."

Rather than cutting caffeine altogether, it's better to gradually wean yourself off. That way, you avoid headaches and feeling like a total zombie.

By Natasha Preskey

See the full story on Cosmopolitan.co.uk

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