Caffeine is a natural stimulant. Coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks and chocolate all contain caffeine.
Because caffeine crosses the blood-brain barrier, it’s classified as a psychoactive drug. In fact, caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world.
In the United States, more than 90% of adults consume caffeine regularly. The average consumption is more than 200 mg of caffeine per day. That’s more caffeine than two 6-oz cups of coffee or five 12-oz cans of soda.
As far as nutritional value, caffeine doesn’t provide any on its own.
Caffeine is absorbed through the gut, specifically the small intestines. Once it's dissolved into the bloodstream, it travels to the liver where it's metabolized and broken down into compounds that affect different organs.
For the most part, caffeine’s biggest effect is on the brain. It stimulates the central nervous system by increasing alertness while blocking the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and makes you feel tired.
Caffeine affects both the digestive and excretory systems. Those who consume caffeine often report experiencing heartburn. This is because caffeine increases the amount of acid in the stomach.
Ever wonder why you always have to “go” after drinking your morning cup (or two) of coffee? It’s probably the caffeine! Excess caffeine is processed in the liver and is removed through urine.
At the same time, caffeine can also “wakes up” your bowels. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it increases peristalsis, the contractions that move food through your digestive tract.
After you sip (or chug) your morning cup of coffee, caffeine enters the bloodstream quickly. And studies have shown caffeine can temporarily increase blood pressure.
Caffeine can also cause your heart rate to increase, but this usually occurs only after drinking large amounts of caffeine.
I think we all know how caffeine consumption can significantly mess with your sleep. But the negative effects of caffeine go much further than that.
While low to moderate caffeine consumption is generally safe, higher doses can increase your risk of developing certain health problems.
What’s more, recent studies show that some caffeine users become addicted to or dependent on caffeine. Because of this, the World Health Organization (WHO) and some health care professionals recognize caffeine dependence as a clinical disorder.
Caffeine (especially from coffee), can interfere with your body’s natural detoxification process. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, “Constituents in coffee can interfere with normal drug metabolism and detoxification in the liver, making it difficult to regulate the normal detoxification process in the liver.”
Caffeine also increases your stress hormones. The stress response elicits cortisol and increases insulin, which increases inflammation and makes you feel terrible.
Relatedly, caffeine can trigger the release of adrenaline — the source of your “fight or flight” response. While this response is useful for life-threatening situations, it’s not so great for conducting everyday business.
While coffee, matcha (or green tea) and guarana all contain caffeine, the body metabolizes each one differently.
Coffee: Caffeine in coffee enters the bloodstream almost instantly. It only takes 45 minutes for 99% of the caffeine in coffee to be absorbed in the body.
Matcha: The caffeine in matcha binds with the catechins (antioxidants). The combining of these two molecules slows down the rate that caffeine is released into the bloodstream. Matcha also contains L-theanine. And when it’s combined with caffeine, it has a calming effect.
Guarana: Guarana is a South American fruit that’s commonly added to energy drinks. It contains tannins, which is believed to slow down the release of caffeine.
If you think you’ll have trouble giving up coffee or other caffeine sources during the detox, reduce the amount you drink at least a week before you plan to start the detox.
Here is a sample plan to reduce your caffeine intake before detoxing:
Day 1-2: Reduce the amount of coffee (or soda) you drink by HALF. (Ex: If you normally drink 4 cups, only drink 2 cups.)
Day 3-4: Limit yourself to one cup of coffee (decaf, if possible!) or one caffiene drink per day.
Day 5-7: Drink only herbal tea (unlike green or black tea, herbal teas are caffeine-free).
Caffeine withdrawals are very common if you reduce the amount of caffeine you drink, or you stop drinking it cold tofu.
Common symptoms include headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and irritability — just to name a few.
If you experience these symptoms, here are a couple of things you can do:
- Drink more water — at least 6-8 glasses a day.
- Apply peppermint oil onto your forehead or temples.
- Get more sleep.
Caffeine not only a stimulant, but also a drug. Because caffeine is metabolized in the liver, which is your body’s main filtration system, caffeine is prohibited while doing the 5-Day Detox. Caffeine also affects the digestive system, which is part of the body’s internal detoxification system.
If you drink coffee or caffeine regularly, try to wean yourself off of caffeine before starting the detox. During the detox, remember to drink lots of water.
What about coffee after the detox? Michael and I personally don't drink coffee. On the days we need an extra boost in energy, we’ll drink Super Brew or add some Energy Bomb to our smoothies. However, we don’t use it every single day.
If you do choose to drink coffee, limit yourself to one cup and try to avoid turning it into a liquid candy bar by adding sugar or dairy milk.