Is it time to kick your caffeine habit?

The other day, my best friend and I were discussing caffeine and its effect on the body. On the heels of my recent switch from coffee to green tea (which has much less caffeine), I was describing how much better I feel these days.

We all know caffeine is a stimulant. Everyone also knows that most of the ways we get caffeine are delicious. Who doesn’t love a great cup of coffee? For me, coffee didn’t only feel like something I needed. Coffee felt like something I loved. Getting up in the morning and having a cup was my sacred morning ritual, and I couldn’t imagine kicking the habit.

But something inside kept whispering that I needed to quit.

Through my nutritional education, I learned why my body was rebelling against my beloved coffee and the jolt of caffeine that came with it. Let’s get a little scientific here — Caffeine binds to the adenosine receptors in your brain. Through a range of complex reactions, it causes a spike in stimulation in your adrenal glands. Ultimately, this leads to inflammation and fatigue throughout your system.

Not to mention, caffeine dehydrates your body which contributes to the aging of skin and kidneys, the inhibition of DNA repair, and your liver’s ability to cleanse itself of foreign toxins.

For women especially, caffeine presents many issues. Caffeine has been linked to fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, osteoporosis, infertility and more. Reducing caffeine can also reduce your risk of a painful urinary tract infection.

Men aren’t immune from caffeine’s downsides though. By eliminating caffeine, men can reduce their risk for prostate and urinary problems.

The number one benefit of reducing caffeine, for everyone, might seem a little counterintuitive.

While most of us feel like we need a cup of coffee or two to tackle life’s biggest obstacles (mainly, the mornings), caffeine actually makes you more stressed out. Caffeine amplifies your stress levels throughout the day by increasing your stress hormone. It’s what gives you that frantic, anxious feeling if you drink too much coffee.

Now, I’m not telling you to eliminate caffeine all together. After all, caffeine, in low doses, can improve alertness, mood and sociability. The antioxidants in caffeine help stabilize your free radicals.

Rather than cutting out caffeine all together, be mindful of the amount of caffeine you’re ingesting on a daily basis. Remember to keep your dose low. 4 cups of a day is not considered low, and I’m speaking from experience.

By switching my 4-cups of coffee a day habit to 2-cups of green tea, I cut my caffeine consumption from 800mg to 70mg. The effects were noticeable right away and I feel better for it!

If you also have a whispering voice in the back of your mind urging you to cut back on caffeine, give it a shot. While we all love a good cup of coffee, too many cups could be doing damage to your body over time.