For millions of people around the world, the thought of a coffee detox is unthinkable. Not only is sipping a cup of coffee each morning an integral part of their daily routine, but it also provides a burst of energy to start the day right while fine-tuning focus and mental clarity.
However, going overboard in the caffeine department can also be harmful to health, causing a long list of caffeine withdrawal symptoms, such as increased heart rate, high blood pressure, dehydration and panic attacks.
Giving your body a break with a coffee detox can be incredibly beneficial, and swapping out your morning cup of joe for other healthy beverages is actually easier than it seems. Keep reading for everything you need to know about how to get started.
Coffee Addiction: How to Know When It’s Time for a Break
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends limiting caffeine consumption to 400 milligrams per day, which translates to about four or five cups of coffee. (That means 32 to 40 ounces, not five venti cups.) However, this amount can vary, as some people may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine in the body.
This is because caffeine acts as a stimulant in the body, which alters the function of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. This leads to increased energy and alertness, but it can also cause other side effects like nausea, jitters, anxiety and headaches.
Caffeine is also highly addictive, which means that missing your morning cup can come with a number of nasty side effects. Some of the top signs of caffeine withdrawal can include:
- Low energy levels
- Difficulty concentrating
What Happens to Your Brain and Body When You Quit Coffee
Coffee acts as a natural laxative to support regularity and stimulate bowel movements. This mans that cutting back could, temporarily at least, cause symptoms like constipation and decreased regularity.
An easy way to combat constipation caused by coffee withdrawal is to eat more fiber-rich foods and drink plenty of water. Staying active, managing stress levels and including a variety of probiotic foods in your diet can also help support regularity.
Stress, nervousness and anxiety are a few of the hallmark signs of coffee addiction, and scaling back on your intake is a great way to promote calmness and reduce anxiety.
Improves Oral Health
Not only can it cause the dreaded “coffee stains” and yellowing of the teeth, but drinking coffee can also erode your tooth enamel, causing teeth to become thin and brittle over time. Quitting coffee is a great way to brighten up your smile and prevent other negative effects on oral health, such as coffee breath.
Many use coffee as a quick and easy way to boost focus and concentration. For this reason, reducing your intake may take a toll on your productivity within the first week or two.
While this generally evens out over time, you can try incorporating some strategies to increase focus into your routine. Practicing mindfulness, minimizing distractions and using aromatherapy with peppermint essential oil, for instance, can help fine-tune your focus during the day. Many people on a keto diet also list improved concentration as a beneficial side effect.
Modifies Hormone Levels
Drinking coffee stimulates the adrenal glands, which boost levels of hormones like adrenaline and dopamine in the brain. When you deprive your body of coffee, the levels of these hormones plummet and levels of other hormones like adenosine start to skyrocket instead.
Adenosine stimulates sleep, which is one reason that energy levels may take a dive when you first quit coffee. It’s also involved in dilating the blood vessels and may contribute to the dreaded caffeine withdrawal headache that many people experience when giving coffee up cold turkey.
Benefits of Giving Up Coffee
1. Saves Money
It may seem like a minor expense, but keeping coffee in your routine can start to slowly stack up over time. This is especially true if you’re swinging by coffee shops every day on your way to work.
According to research from the NPD Group, the average consumer spends about $3 on a single cup of coffee, which adds up to $90 a month, or $1095 a year – and that’s if you’re only drinking one cup per day.
2. Improves Mood
Many people don’t realize just how much of an effect coffee can have on your mood. It can cause stress, anxiety, nervousness and “caffeine jitters,” which can make it difficult to concentrate and focus during the day. It can also contribute to lack of sleep, which can make you even more irritable and grouchy the next morning.
A coffee detox is a simple strategy to improve your mood, fight anxiety and keep you feeling your best all day long.
3. Whitens Teeth
Drinking coffee can stain your teeth, erode your enamel and contribute to bad breath. Swapping coffee for a cup of water or herbal tea is a simple way to improve oral health, whiten your smile and freshen your breath.
4. Supports Better Sleep
It’s no secret that caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it increases energy levels and alertness. While this may be great during the workday, it’s not so stellar when it comes to your sleep schedule.
For the average person, caffeine has a half-life of about five hours, which is the amount of time it takes for half the caffeine in your blood to be eliminated. This means that even a cup or two in the afternoon can impact your sleep and keep you from catching Z’s when you hit the sack.
5. Reduces Your Environmental Impact
Disposable coffee cups can have detrimental effects on the environment. According to one study conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund, each paper cup is responsible for nearly 0.25 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
Unsustainable practices used in the production of paper cups also contributes to deforestation and environmental degradation. And much like plastic cups, most disposable paper coffee cups are not recyclable, as they’re coated in plastic resin to help make them more durable.
Cutting back on your coffee consumption can help minimize your environmental footprint and support the health of the planet.
6. Boosts Productivity
Although giving up coffee can negatively impact your focus and concentration initially, it also frees up extra time throughout your day, which can actually boost productivity in the long-run. You can easily take advantage of the time spent on coffee breaks, waiting in line or brewing up your own cup at home.
Those extra few minutes each day can be spent tidying up the house, finishing projects, squeezing in some extra sleep, reading a book or even meditating.
7. Increases Weight Loss
If you’re like most people, your go-to coffee order may include plenty of cream, sugar, syrup and other high-calorie add-ins. Cutting these ingredients out of your diet is a sure-fire way to decrease calorie consumption and keep your waistline looking trim.
On the flip side, coffee can sometimes suppress appetite and hunger, which can actually enhance weight loss. But instead of reaching for high-fat, high-calorie snacks when cravings start to strike after quitting coffee, fill up on healthy, whole ingredients instead, like fruits, veggies and protein foods.
How to Gently Detox from Coffee
If you’re a chronic coffee consumer, there’s a good chance you may experience some symptoms of withdrawal, such as the notorious caffeine headache, once you start to scale back. According to a paper published by Drexel University, withdrawal side effects typically peak after 20 to 51 hours, and can last anywhere between two to nine days.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to ease the process and minimize side effects.
Instead of quitting cold turkey, try gradually decreasing your consumption by 1 to 2 cups per day until you wean off completely. Alternatively, try slowly swapping regular coffee for decaf instead for an easy way to cut back on caffeine consumption.
Check out this sample five-day weaning schedule. You can easily adjust it to fit your personal preferences and lengthen or shorten it based on your personal timeline and goals:
- Day One: Drink your normal amount of coffee
- Day Two: Try replacing around 25 percent of your regular coffee with decaf, or simply decrease your coffee consumption by 25 percent
- Day Three: Start mixing half of your coffee with decaf or cut overall coffee consumption in half
- Day Four: Replace 75 percent of your coffee with decaf, or reduce consumption by 75 percent
- Day Five: Drink only decaf coffee or other healthy beverages instead
Looking for another replacement for your daily jolt of java?
Tea is a great substitute that supplies many of the same health benefits as coffee, but with a fraction of the caffeine. A glass of warm lemon water is another soothing alternative to coffee that can help kick off your morning right. Or, try chicory coffee, a popular caffeine-free coffee substitute that is made from roasted chicory root.
Throughout your coffee detox, it’s important to stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep, stay active and enjoy a balanced and nutritious diet. This can help decrease withdrawal symptoms and improve your overall health in the process.
- In moderation, coffee can be a healthy part of a balanced diet and has been linked to several health benefits.
- However, excess consumption of coffee (and caffeine) can cause side effects like anxiety, dehydration and increased heart rate.
- Because coffee is highly addictive, cutting out your daily cup can trigger withdrawal symptoms. The official withdrawal definition is “the process of ceasing to take an addictive drug,” which can cause side effects like depression, low energy levels, irritability and fatigue.
- Quitting coffee can save you money and time while also increasing weight loss, improving oral health, supporting better sleep, enhancing your mood and reducing your impact on the environment.
- To start a coffee detox, slowly reduce your intake and replace it with other healthy beverages like tea, lemon water or chicory coffee.
- Be sure to also stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, stay active and pair your coffee detox with a well-rounded diet to optimize the potential results.
Read Next: How to Stop (or Prevent) A Caffeine Headache
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