Do you often find yourself on your last legs at work, struggling to muster the energy to complete your deadline? To give you that final push, do you hit the double espresso button on the coffee machine, knowing that it will do the job?
For many people, consuming caffeine is their one saving grace, and for others it is even something they depend on. However, have you ever thought about how caffeine affects your body? After all, experts advise women, especially those going through menopause, to cut back on their caffeine consumption for health purposes. Why is this?
Caffeine has a huge impact on the hormones produced in the body, and these in turn have a huge impact on human behavior. It's important that you understand the negative effects that caffeine has on the body, so you can cut down on consumption. Read on to learn about caffeine's effects on the body.
What Effect Does Caffeine Have on my Hormones?
Caffeine boosts our energy and concentration levels almost immediately after consumption; indeed, 90% of Americans will drink caffeine on a daily basis to get a fast “fix”. However, to achieve this stimulation, caffeine changes the chemistry within the brain. Keep reading to find out how caffeine reacts to certain hormones and neurotransmitters in our bodies.
During the day the neurotransmitter adenosine attaches itself to receptors in the brain, causing a slowdown of nerve cell activity, which in turn makes us sleepy. Caffeine blocks adenosine, attaching itself to receptors in its place. Nerve activity speeds up, causing the adrenaline hormone to kick in, giving you an instant burst of energy.
Adrenaline is the “fight or flight” hormone, released when the body thinks that it is facing danger, and prepares the body for confrontation or retreat. Caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline, which causes rapid heartbeat and increased blood pressure, among other symptoms. A temporary high is followed by fatigue and depression-like symptoms later in the day. Depending on caffeine to combat these effects will make for a constant agitated state.
The consumption of caffeine also increases the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. In the long term, this has negative effects on the body, often leading to weight gain, moodiness, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as reduced levels of estrogen and progesterone in women. An imbalance of these hormones, particularly during menopause, can cause a whole range of unwanted symptoms, including hot flashes, loss of libido, vaginal dryness, and mood swings.
Consuming caffeine leads to an increased release of dopamine, which is responsible for the feeling of pleasure in the brain. A rise in the production of dopamine will make you feel good, but only momentarily. Once it wears off, you may begin to feel low.
And the Winner is...
Caffeine consumption sends the body and mind into a drug-like high which is not only short-lived but also disruptive to normal bodily functions. Some people turn to another caffeinated drink to perk up, which leads to a vicious cycle of artificial highs and sudden crashes. Long term, caffeine can cause, or worsen, conditions like fatigue, depression, stress, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, weight gain, diabetes, digestive problems, and stomach ulcers. It also worsens menopausal symptoms and aggravates disorders like breast cancer and infertility.
In essence, consuming too much caffeine is bad for the body. The caffeine may win in the short term because it gives us the energy we crave, but in the long run it can cause major problems.
Cut back on caffeine consumption to give your hormones a fighting chance of regulating your body as they should. To find out more about hormones and the roles they play in the body, follow this link.