Trouble Brewing: The Hidden Dangers of Coffee

addiction bad habits coffee self sabotage Jan 10, 2024

Do you remember the first time you took your first sip of coffee? I sure do. I was in my first year of university. I can’t recall why I decided to drink it, but likely it was a scenario where my friends were drinking it, coupled with it seemed to be the “normal” thing to do given that there is a coffee shop on almost every street corner so I decided to try it too.

I remember that very first sip. It didn’t taste very good. I don’t really know why I continued to drink it after that first sip didn’t taste good, but I did.

I remember that first night after my first cup of coffee. I had my very first cup of coffee (and only cup of coffee for the day) early in the afternoon, and it was now around 2:00 a.m. and I was still in bed all jittery and couldn’t fall asleep.

After that first experience with coffee, I’m not sure why I ever reached for another cup, but I did. Why I would reach for something I didn’t like the taste of and it caused me physical problems (the jitters and inability to sleep) doesn’t make logical sense. It only makes sense if you don’t really think about it.

That right there is the power of the subconscious mind, and the power of addiction.

Fast forward over two decades later. My coffee addiction went from one cup occasionally, to one cup per day to three cups per day at my worst. Today, I’m still not fully over my love affair with coffee, but it’s no longer a daily habit anymore. That toxic substance is finally losing it’s tight grip on me.

I know many people just like me who have fallen to the coffee addiction. Some consume way more coffee and caffeine per day than I ever did even at my three cups per day habit. Chances are, you probably know some people like that too, right?

How does this happen?

It happens because we live in a society where coffee is seen as the normal and cool thing to have. Watch any mainstream TV show and I guarantee you that you will find at least one cup of coffee on display somewhere in the show (and usually within the first few minutes). Then there are the popular TV shows where coffee plays a central focus (remember the hit series Friends and the Central Perk coffee shop?)

“Let’s go for coffee” is a completely normalized part of every day conversation as something to do when taking a short work break with colleagues, meeting up with friends to catch up, and a popular first date activity. Even pre-teens and teenagers like to hangout at Starbucks and are sadly addicted to their caffeine fix.

Any way you want to look at it, coffee is a drug – a poisonous toxin to your body. But it is a socially acceptable toxin.

Think of your own circle of family and friends. How many of them consume coffee (or caffeinated tea) on a daily basis? How many coffee shops are in your local neighborhood? How many times per week do you hear around the office someone say “let’s go for a coffee”? How many times do you go to a work function or a dinner somewhere and coffee is served. It seems like everywhere you turn it's coffee, coffee, and more coffee. No wonder people (myself included) become addicted.

But there is a dangerous side to coffee.

The advertisements for coffee certainly don’t tell you about it’s addictive potential, that it can lead to health problems such as anxiety, weight gain, sleep disturbance, adrenal fatigue, digestive issues, cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative disease. Yet those are just some of the complications that regular consumption of coffee can lead to. The advertisements for coffee don’t tell you that you can overdose on it (or the symptoms of caffeine overdose), but you can.

Let’s explore several common side effects of coffee.

 

Caffeine Dependency and Anxiety:

One of the most common pitfalls associated with excessive coffee consumption is the development of caffeine dependency. Regular intake of caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant found in coffee, can lead to the body's reliance on it for sustained energy. This dependency often results in increased anxiety, restlessness, and irritability, creating a cycle of self-sabotage as individuals become more prone to stress.

 

Disrupted Sleep Patterns:

Coffee's stimulating effects can linger in the body for hours, disrupting natural sleep patterns and leading to insomnia. Lack of quality sleep is a significant contributor to impaired cognitive function, increased stress levels, and compromised emotional well-being. By sacrificing sleep for the temporary boost coffee provides, individuals inadvertently sabotage their long-term mental and physical health.

 

Adrenal Fatigue:

Consistent and excessive coffee consumption can overstimulate the adrenal glands, leading to adrenal fatigue. These glands are responsible for producing hormones crucial for stress management. When overworked, they may struggle to maintain hormonal balance, resulting in exhaustion, mood swings, and compromised immune function. The self-sabotage lies in the pursuit of short-term alertness at the expense of long-term adrenal health.

 

Digestive Issues:

Coffee is acidic and can contribute to digestive problems such as acid reflux and gastritis. For individuals prone to digestive issues, regular coffee consumption can exacerbate symptoms and hinder nutrient absorption. This self-sabotaging behavior compromises overall health by impairing the digestive system, which plays a vital role in nutrient assimilation and immune function.

 

Weight Gain:

There is a long list of ways coffee is connected to weight gain. For starters, while a plain black coffee is virtually calorie-free, the same cannot be said for popular specialty coffee drinks. The addition of syrups, whipped cream, flavored creamers, and sugary toppings can turn a seemingly innocent cup of coffee into a high-calorie indulgence. These extra calories, often overlooked, contribute to an increased daily caloric intake, potentially leading to weight gain over time.

Coffee is also known to stimulate the release of cortisol, the body's stress hormone. While cortisol plays a role in metabolism regulation, chronic elevation due to excessive coffee consumption can lead to increased fat storage, particularly in the abdominal area. Elevated cortisol levels may contribute to stress-related weight gain, emphasizing the importance of moderation in coffee consumption to avoid potential adverse effects on the body's stress response.

 

Dehydration and Nutrient Depletion:

Coffee's diuretic properties can contribute to dehydration, leading to a range of health issues, including headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Moreover, excessive coffee intake can interfere with the absorption of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron. This nutrient depletion can have cascading effects on bone health, muscle function, and overall vitality through compromised nutritional status.

 

Acrylamide and its Toxic Brew:

When coffee beans are roasted at high temperatures, acrylamide, a chemical compound, is formed. Acrylamide is classified as a potential human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). While the levels found in coffee are generally considered low, chronic exposure to this compound may pose health risks.

 

Mycotoxins:

Coffee beans are susceptible to contamination by mycotoxins, toxic substances produced by molds. Poor storage conditions, both during cultivation and processing, can lead to mycotoxin presence in coffee. Chronic exposure to mycotoxins has been linked to various health issues, including liver damage and immune system suppression.

 

Heavy Metal Contamination:

Coffee plants can absorb heavy metals from the soil, and certain brewing methods can introduce additional contaminants. Over time, consistent exposure to heavy metals such as lead and cadmium can lead to serious health problems, including organ damage and cognitive impairment.

 

Excitotoxicity and Brain Health:

Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that works by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain, temporarily boosting alertness. However, excessive stimulation of the central nervous system can lead to a phenomenon known as excitotoxicity. This occurs when nerve cells are overstimulated, potentially causing damage and cell death. Prolonged exposure to excitotoxicity has been linked to various neurological disorders, raising questions about the long-term impact of habitual coffee consumption.

 

Impact on Cognitive Function:

While coffee's immediate effects on alertness and concentration are well-documented, there is evidence to suggest that chronic consumption may lead to cognitive decline over time. Excessive caffeine intake has been associated with reduced hippocampal volume, a brain region vital for memory and learning.

 

Potential Link to Neurodegenerative Diseases:

Emerging research suggests a potential link between excessive caffeine consumption and an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. While the evidence is not conclusive, the possibility of coffee contributing to the development or progression of these conditions adds another layer of concern to the long-term neurological impact of habitual coffee intake.

 

If you are wanting to improve your overall health, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to decrease the daily amount of caffeine you are consuming, with the ultimate goal of eliminating it.

There have been times where I have been completely caffeine free, and I can tell you from personal experience there is a big improvement in some health related items I live with when I stay completely away from caffeine. I'm currently working on some health goals, one being to completely eliminate caffeine from my intake once again.

If you have ever tried to quit coffee all at once, you know the negative effects that happen almost immediately. Skip their morning caffeine fix and many people experience negative effects such as headaches, brain fog, exhaustion and other symptoms that have them quickly running back to their coffee.

A better approach is to slowly wean yourself off of your addiction over time. For example, if you are currently consuming two cups of coffee per day, start by reducing that to one cup of coffee per day for a couple of weeks, then switching to half a cup of coffee per day for a couple of weeks and then eliminating it. This approach will reduce the caffeine withdrawal effects, yet still ultimately eliminate it. Your health will be so much better off from removing this toxic poison from your body.

As for me, I’m still working on being free from the grips of this toxic substance, but no longer as dependent on it. Some days I still have one cup, and other days either one cup of decaf or none at all. My overall health and sleep have been better for it.

If you are interested in reducing (and ultimately eliminating) caffeine or other negative habits in your life, I’m hosting a free online workshop on Wednesday, January 31, 2024 called “Ditch the Roadblocks: How to Get Out of Your Own Way and Make Stuff Happen”. The registration link for this free workshop is below.

Ditch the Roadblocks: How to Get Out of Your Way and Make Stuff Happen

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

8:00 pm ET (online)

Register Now

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