Two experts tell us the health benefits of living a caffeine-free life
For many of us, a cup of coffee or tea in the morning is more than a delicious pick-me-up to start the day — it’s an absolute necessity. If Starbucks runs through your veins, you’d probably never dream of giving up coffee, but there are so many benefits of quitting caffeine that may make you a whole lot healthier, so you might want to consider taking the plunge.
We know, it seems unfathomable to imagine a life without glorious caffeine, but believe us when we say there are lots of good things that happen to your body when you quit caffeine, and giving up coffee for good could change your life in positive ways. We chatted with two nutrition experts, who give us the low-down on the benefits of a caffeine-free life.
HelloGiggles spoke with Toby Amidor, MS, RD, nutrition expert and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day and Kimberly Snyder, C.N., nutritionist and New York Times best-selling author of four books, including The Beauty Detox Solution: Eat Your Way to Radiant Skin, Renewed Energy and the Body You’ve Always Wanted, to get the scoop. They gave us some facts that may shock you — and have you switching to decaf ASAP.
1You’ll sleep better.
This one shouldn’t come as too much of a shock to latte lovers, but it’s worth repeating. “Caffeine is a stimulant,” Amidor tells HG, “which can lead to restlessness and difficulty sleeping. Taking it out of your diet may help you sleep better.” Yeah, unfortunately, it’s true — the same reason we look forward to a caffeine buzz to wake us up is the very thing that leads to restless nights.
2You’ll have less anxiety.
Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, which gives you a good boost when you’re trying to plow through your to-do list. But it also does a number on your blood pressure, temporarily spiking it and giving you a shot of adrenaline. If you suffer from anxiety, this could make you feel kinda terrible.
“Drinking loads of caffeine can cause an increase in anxiety. Removing it from the diet can help minimize anxiety. Those who already have anxiety should be consuming minimal caffeine,” Amidor confirms. Many of the physical symptoms of anxiety (sweaty palms, racing heart, etc.) are therefore then alleviated when caffeinated beverages like energy drinks and coffee are nixed.
3You’ll be able to absorb calcium better.
Strange but true: your morning java can have a negative impact on your bones. According to Amidor, “Caffeinated beverages like cola, tea and coffee contain compounds that don’t allow calcium to be absorbed into the body. This can lead to osteoporosis, or brittle breakable bones, later in life. Laying off loads of caffeine can help your bones stay stronger in the long run.”
4You’ll actually be able to absorb many other nutrients better as well.
Snyder agrees, adding that caffeine inhibits absorption of all nutrients in our bodies. “Not drinking coffee helps avoid B vitamins deficiencies that are often associated with heavy caffeine intake and allows us to better absorb nutrients from the food we eat.” Noted.
5You’ll have fewer headaches.
We’ll give you the bad news first: if you go cold turkey on your daily intake of caffeine, you’ll probably experience withdrawal headaches. The good news? After you’ve weaned yourself off caffeine altogether, your headaches could be few and far between. Migraine sufferers, rejoice!
6Your teeth will be healthier.
Everyone knows that dark drinks like tea, coffee, and sodas stain your teeth, but did you know they actually aren’t great for your overall dental and oral health? Coffee in particular is quite acidic, and those acids can erode your teeth and enamel, weakening your teeth in the long run. Plus, no more dreaded coffee breath!
7Your bloodstream could be affected in a good way.
Coffee addicts may feel like they’ve got java running through their veins, but it may actually be better to go without. There’s some reliable science behind caffeine’s bizarre buzz in your blood. “Since caffeine is very acidic, avoiding caffeine sources such as coffee can help boost your body’s natural blood alkalinity, and high-alkaline blood levels is a good thing,” Snyder tells HG. “It helps keep youth-inducing oxygen flowing through your blood, promotes beautiful skin and has other beauty-boosting benefits.” Who knew?
8Your hormones might regulate.
Yes, really. A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted that drinking a few cups of coffee a day could affect women’s estrogen levels, though it seems that a definitive effect is inconclusive. There are some other cultural and lifestyle factors thrown in there that will determine how caffeine affects you, but it seems that your hormones are more likely to stay at even level when you steer clear of coffee.
9Your liver might thank you, too.
Sure, we all know that drinking too much alcohol isn’t great for your liver, but it turns out that innocent cup of joe might be an issue as well. Snyder says, “Since caffeine must be processed through your liver, avoiding caffeine can free up the burden on your liver and allow it to focus on its primary detoxifying and fat-burning duties.” So basically, caffeine is affecting your liver’s ability to do its normal job, and that’s a bit alarming.
10You’ll have more energy — no, but really.
We won’t sugarcoat it: the initial weaning period from caffeine will make you feel terrible and potentially lethargic, weak, and tired. But the great news is that after your body gets used to a life without a caffeine buzz, you may have more pep in your step naturally. Plus, if you’re a fan of added sugars and creamers in your tea or coffee (or addicted to sugary energy drinks), you’ll feel better without the blood sugar highs and lows from these beverages.
11Your overall health and mood could improve.
Our bodies are complex systems, and guzzling a few Red Bulls impacts us from head to toe. According to Snyder, “Coffee stresses the adrenals, which can cause chronic under eye circles.” Since coffee contains an acid-based oil, it irritates the lining of the stomach and promotes gastric acidity, which prompts our body to secrete adrenaline. This can stimulate insulin secretion, which can also fuel hypoglycemia.
The bottom line is that this can make us crave sweets a few hours later, which can result in crazy dips in our energy, as well as moodiness. So don’t be surprised if your whole body feels steadier and more calm after you kick your caffeine habit.