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Here's what happens to body when you give up coffeine

Here's what happens to body when you give up coffeine What happens if you give up coffee (photo: Freepik)

Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world. Even if you don't drink coffee or tea, you still regularly consume caffeine, as it is present in everything from carbonated drinks and cold remedies to decaffeinated coffee and chocolate, reports ScienceAlert.

What you need to know about caffeine

Caffeine is quickly absorbed by the body, reaching its maximum effect within two hours of consumption, and it may take up to nine hours for it to leave the body. It is also water- and fat-soluble, entering all tissues of the body, explaining why caffeine can affect various organs.

Adults are advised not to consume more than 400 mg of caffeine per day, approximately equivalent to four cups of coffee. Even this dose can lead to muscle tremors, nausea, headaches, and heart palpitations.

However, even people who consume only a couple of cups of coffee or tea daily may feel they still experience negative effects, such as irritability, difficulty sleeping, and a sense of nervousness. This is why an increasing number of people decide to give up caffeine.

The consequences of limiting caffeine intake can vary, and the most common ones are outlined below.

Headaches and fatigue may occur

Abstaining from caffeine can cause headaches and fatigue. This is because the body develops a tolerance to caffeine. Caffeine binds to a receptor in the brain that uses adenosine, delaying the onset of fatigue. Over time, brain cells produce more adenosine receptors.

If a person abstains from caffeine, there is an excess of adenosine receptors, leading to a feeling of increased fatigue compared to before.

In the head and neck, caffeine causes the narrowing of blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the brain. When you stop consuming caffeine, approximately 24 hours later, blood vessels return to normal, causing an increase in blood flow to the brain and resulting in headaches. These headaches can last an average of up to 9 days.

Additionally, temporarily increased pain sensitivity may occur due to caffeine withdrawal.

Improved sleep

Caffeine also shortens the overall sleep time and reduces the period of deep sleep. This can increase fatigue the next day. When you stop consuming caffeine, you may notice an improvement in your sleep. Some data suggest that improvements can be observed as early as 12 hours later.

Improved mood

Caffeine is also associated with increased anxiety and panic attacks—not only in those predisposed to mental health problems.

Reducing or eliminating caffeine can improve your mood. Partly, this may be because it improves sleep. Sleep deprivation can amplify anxiety and other mood disorders. However, adenosine receptors, to which caffeine binds, also play a role in modulating other neurotransmitters affecting stress, happiness, and fear.

Relief from acid reflux

Reducing or eliminating caffeine can also alleviate acid reflux and digestive disorders. Caffeine induces the secretion of stomach acid and weakens the esophageal sphincter, which controls the reflux of stomach contents up the esophagus, causing acid reflux and digestive disorders.

Abstaining from caffeine can also lower blood pressure and heart rate, although other studies have shown minimal changes.

Through years of caffeine consumption, the body adapts to it, and it becomes a new normal with its stimulating effects on the nervous system, intestines, and heart.

Whiter teeth

Abstaining from caffeine may improve the whiteness of your teeth - not directly because of caffeine but due to compounds, particularly staining agents, found in tea and coffee that discolor teeth.

Avoiding caffeine and sugary drinks can help maintain healthy teeth. Evidence also suggests that caffeinated beverages may reduce the production of saliva, which typically protects our teeth from damage.

Less frequent bathroom visits

Caffeine affects the smooth muscle of the intestines, especially in the colon, causing contractions and triggering the urge to empty the bowels. Caffeine can also alter stool consistency, especially if consumed in excess, as it affects water absorption. Reducing caffeine intake may lead to less frequent bowel movements.

Caffeine also acts as a mild diuretic, causing an increase in urine production. There is evidence that caffeine irritates the bladder, potentially leading to more frequent urges to urinate. Abstaining from caffeine can reduce the number of daily bathroom visits.

How to quit caffeine properly

If you are seriously considering eliminating caffeine from your diet, the best way to do it is gradually. A sudden transition can cause side effects such as headaches and fatigue, which may persist for two to three weeks.

The severity and duration of these effects depend on how much caffeine you consumed per day and how entrenched your coffee-drinking habit is.

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