Safely Reduce Your Caffeine Intake

Caffeine is a mild stimulant. Many people drink coffee, tea or soda for this effect—it helps them feel more awake and alert. This stimulant effect, however, can also cause jitters, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Each person’s tolerance to caffeine is different, and with age, we appear to become more sensitive to the effects of caffeine. There is some preliminary evidence that people whose metabolism of caffeine is genetically slower than others’ may be at a higher risk for heart attacks if they consume caffeine. Your doctor may recommend you reduce caffeine intake in certain situations. For example:

  • If you are pregnant or nursing—during pregnancy, you may be more sensitive to caffeine. Also, caffeine can pass through the placenta and breast milk to your baby.
  • If you have a specific medical problem (i.e. high blood pressure, other risk factors for heart attack, gastritis, or ulcers)—talk to your doctor about how caffeine affects you in order to determine if you need to cut back.

If you do decide to cut back your caffeine intake, here’s how:

First, you will need to identify all of the possible sources of caffeine in your diet. The following table should help you judge the relative caffeine content of different beverages. While chocolate does not contain caffeine, for some people the “theobromines” in chocolate have similar effects. Also listed, is the caffeine equivalents for some chocolate products below.

Some people experience headaches or drowsiness if they stop “cold turkey” with their caffeine intake. Decreasing over a period of time can help prevent these effects. Try the following:

  • Mix half regular and half decaffeinated coffee
  • Drink instant coffee, which has less caffeine than regular coffee
  • Brew tea for a shorter time; a 1-minute brew contains about half of the caffeine that a 3-minute brew contains

If you find one of the above methods of gradual cutting back works for you, then you can proceed to the following:

  • Drink decaffeinated coffee or tea, which has almost no caffeine.
  • Drink herbal tea, which naturally has no caffeine.
  • Replace coffee, tea and soda with water or juice

If you are watching your waistline, then do not forget that juices and sugar-containing soft drinks may have more calories than some of the caffeinated beverages you are giving up.

For answers to your questions on this and other topics, schedule an appointment with one of our physicians.



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