The local coffee shop down the street has always been my home away from home… and if anyone asks, coffee is 100% my favorite food group. (Since coffee IS a food group, at least in my book). However, I recently found out that too much caffeine can do some serious damage to your body (more than just jittery hands and an adrenaline rush). Whether your drink of choice is coffee or green tea, a Monster or Red Bull – all of these beverages have the potential to alter your brain chemistry, obstruct your nervous system, and affect your body in ways you’d probably never guess. So, it’s kind of important to look at how much caffeine you’re drinking, and know how much caffeine you SHOULD be drinking.
It’s always tricky to recommend caffeine intake levels – everyone has different body types, caffeine tolerance, and intake habits. The best think you can do is know your limits – too much of ANYTHING is a bad thing. Be sure to look out for signs of symptoms of caffeine overload. Here are five warning signs that you should look out for if you happen to drink a lot of caffeine on the reg.
1. The Super Shakes: When your heart starts to beat way faster than normal, and your fingers tremble uncontrollably – beware. The shakes feel tremendously uncomfortable, and they can give you more physical anxiety than you actually emotionally feel. At this point, you’ve had too much caffeine. This has actually happened to me before. I drank about four cups of green tea, and, well, let’s just say I had to put my head down for multiple intervals throughout my work day — not very fun. The scariest part about this condition is that another word for caffeine shakes is caffeine intoxication. Those jitters you feel are the result of your central nervous system going down like a bad breakup. Know your limits before and put the coffee down BEFORE you experience these symptoms.
2. Hyped to the Max: This condition has a lot to do with your central nervous system being highly stimulated. An overstimulated central nervous system can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, nervousness, insomnia, breathlessness, heart palpitations, fear, an inability to relax, and an inability to sit still. Such an overactive nervous system can also lead to explosive anger. That may explain things a little, if you happen to notice you get a little moody when you drink too much caffeine. Avoid the outbursts and overall irritability by lowering your coffee intake.
3. You’re a Walking Waterfall: You may be thinking, “Well, duh, of course I’d have to pee if I just chugged multiple cups of liquid.” But there’s way more to it than just that. Coffee is a diuretic, which means that you’d have to urinate even more frequently than you would if you simply drank a few cups of water.
SIDE NOTE: According to the FDA, this can lead to dehydration if you’re not careful. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day as well.
4. Crazy Confusion: This one is the strangest to me, because I’m sure you’re drinking coffee to keep your mind alert and focused, yet here you are, getting the opposite result. Confusion and disorientation comes from caffeine intoxication – which can even cause seizures for some people. I know most of us need a couple cups of coffee to get through the day, but when your caffeine intake goes beyond, say, three cups each day, then it might be time to start checking your habits.
5. The CRASH: It’s funny because usually, you drink caffeine because you are in a dense state of fatigue and need the pick-me-up. However, if you go a little too overboard on your caffeinated liquid of choice, within a few hours, you will crash. In my opinion, this honestly just defeats the purpose of drinking this stuff in the first place. This sudden crash happens because, when you feel tired, your brain withholds a chemical called adenosine. Ingesting caffeine blocks adenosine from connecting with the receptors in your brain, so the caffeine wards off fatigue. However, although the adenosine isn’t connecting to the receptors, it is still present in your brain. Therefore, once the caffeine wears off, the built-up adenosine finally does connect with the receptors, and boom. You crash.
I know it seems a little overdramatic. I mean, what’s the harm in sipping a few PSL’s (Pumpkin Spice Latte) here and there, right? However, too much caffeine intake will definitely do more damage than good if you take it too far. I know we usually take it to wake us up and make us productive, but caffeine can actually bring your body to a point where it is everything but productive. And sometimes can leave you spacing out while you’re driving.
Drink wisely, friends!