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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Caffeine Issue

I'll be honest. At the moment, I am still addicted to caffeine, however, I am starting to cut down using my Rooibos tea (see a previous post) during the day and at night. I have been drinking regular tea or diet coke whenever I need a pick-me-up during the day. A cup of regular tea in the morning should be all I need, but from a recent study, it indicates that I should expect a bigger insulin release even with my low-carb breakfast.

Judy Barnes Baker (author of Carb Wars: Sugar is the new Fat Judy's super blog found a study that discovers that caffeine stimulates insulin release. This study compared people eating a low-sugar breakfast with regular coffee and those eating a high-sugar breakfast with decaffeinated coffee. The low-sugar breakfast with caffeinated coffee folks had a greater insulin response than those folks eating a high-sugar breakfast with decaffeinated coffee.

Here is the study.

This was disturbing to read re caffeine addiction from

"Caffeine addiction is for real and to make matters more disheartening for the avid coffee drinker or cola fan, caffeine employs the same effects as alcohol, LSD, cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, nicotine, opioids, benzodiazepines, and other major drugs. This makes caffeine the widest used psychoactive drug in the world.

Another compounding problem with caffeine addiction is that it affects many people differently. Some caffeine addicts are satisfied with a low level of caffeine intake, like a few cups of coffee. Others can't seem to function without a liter of cola and a few Red Bulls everyday. Since an addiction to caffeine is highly personalized, any standardized treatment remains a riddle.

Caffeine addiction also has a social aspect. Where as all other drugs have a social stigma attached to them, caffeine products from chocolate to coffee are widely accepted by the general public. Despite its acceptance and central nervous stimulant affecting a person's sense of well being, caffeine's use is also associated with a number of physical and psychological syndromes that are similar to other drugs, i.e. caffeine addiction.

Both the WHO and the APA consider Caffeine Effects and the intoxication from caffeine to be a valid diagnosis. Doses vary from individual to individual. While rarely fatal, Caffeine Effects can include anxiety, insomnia, tremors, fever, rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), and hyperventilation (tachypnea).

Often, when caffeine intoxication is fatal , the user consumed caffeine pills and his death was due to ventricular fibrillation—the muscles in the heart go out of whack, causing it to pump inadequately and depriving the body of oxygen. Thus the Caffeine Effects can range from mild tremors to fatality."

Can drinking caffeinated beverages really be likened to being addicted to some of those serious drugs? This was disturbing to read....

I should point out though that there have been studies done pointing to the benefits of drinking coffee - even saying that it staves off Diabetes 2, Parkinsons and Alzheimers. It is difficult to know what to believe. Dr. Atkins told us to stay off caffeine if we want to lose weight, however, many people lose weight anyway, caffeine or not. I think this is a controversial subject, but, for me, I'm only planning on cutting down during the day. I need my cup of tea in the morning and, besides, I like it!

Jennifer Eloff


Anonymous said...

Our non-profit is publishing a book on recovery from caffeine addition. We are looking for stories of recovery from various caffeinated products, including coffee, tea, energy drinks, no doz pills, soda, etc. Authors of the stories will be kept completely anonymous. This book is being written to help others who may be suffering from an addiction to caffeine and may identify with someone's story and seek help. Stories are ideally between 2,000 and 4,000 words total. If you or someone you know has struggled with caffeine addiction, this is a great opportunity to reach out and help others. All participants will receive a free copy of the book, once it is published. Please email us at or visit

Jennifer said...

Interesting! Perhaps somebody will see your comment here. I do know that for some people excess caffeine can lead to sleeplessness and depression and even a nervous break down.

Moderation in everything, but I understand that many people should completely abstain.

Amy Dungan (aka Sparky's Girl) said...

Great post Jennifer. Dr. Atkins mentions in his book the possibility that caffeine will stimulate an insulin response. So I've been avoiding caffeine as much as possible since 2001. I have it on rare occasions and have learned to pretty much live without it finally.

Jennifer said...

That is amazing, Amy! Great to see you here. :-) I wish I could say the same, but I am so reticent to give it all up - so I'm hanging onto that cup of tea in the morning. When I flag in the afternoon, I'm looking for chocolate. Brother!

Tracey said...

This research comes at a good time for me. I always did avoid caffeine because of what Atkins said in his book, but only recently I have started to let all the forum-folks who say they drink coffee every morning start to make me believe that it's okay to.

I have only been "a coffee drinker" for about a month, and even then I don't drink it every day, so quitting now will be no problem!

As much as I love caffeine from chocolate and soda when I'm not low-carbing, I find that eating low--carb naturally gives me enough energy that I don't really miss the caffeine. (Except for maybe a headache or two on the first day back.)

Jennifer said...

Tracey, I think you're most likely doing yourself a big favor. You're young and naturally have a lot of energy. I have been a bit of a caffeine addict since your age and when I think back, I probably would have been better off without it.

Truthfully, I failed yesterday with my desire to cut back (we went out to eat and I'm not saying any more), but today is a new day.... You don't want to sound like me at 51. lol

Vikki said...

Hey Jennifer,
Well, I know going cold turkey giving up caffeine didn't work. I blew up like a balloon. But since then I have cut way back. I have a large cup of tea most mornings, I've kept my caffeine free DP's for when I drink soft drinks, and I make my iced tea half and half. The fluid is staying down and I feel the reduction in caffeine is beneficial. Maybe after another month or so I can trim it back even more. But this girl isn't going to cut it all out at once ever ever again. :o)
Great read as always.

Jennifer said...

No kidding, Vikki. You're one of those people that will probably always need to have some caffeine to keep the fluid from building up too much. Don't worry, I'm not going cold turkey either. I get awful migraines.