How much Caffeine!

Coffee – a drink obtained by infusion of the ground beans of coffee plant is one of the most freely marketed addictive substances in the world and a daily beverage for many of us. Because of its ever increasing popularity, there’s probably more research done on coffee than on any other subject and yet there is a lot of confusion as regards coffee and it’s effect on the mind


One cup of coffee contains about 60-70mg of caffeine. This amount temporarily increases mental alertness and energy levels, which in turn reduces drowsiness. Caffeine acts on the nervous system and stimulates the cardiovascular system ,thereby raising the blood pressure and heart rate. It prevents fatigue, and may also act as a diuretic and a laxative.


How does caffeine affect our mind?

Caffeine is an addictive drug which is known to alter the brain’s natural state and responsible for the ‘wake-up effect’. The caffeine present in the cup of coffee results in closing of the blood vessels in the brain (due to which the brain and body cannot sleep), and causing the release of adrenaline into the body, so that the body remains active and alert. Caffeine has also been shown to give a person the ‘temporary high’ by manipulating the dopamine production in the brain. It’s because of the above action that most coffee drinkers tend to experience fatigue and depression, irritability, anxiety, jumpiness, deprivation of deep sleep, and vascular headaches. Caffeine, however, can be medically useful as a cardiac stimulant by stimulating heart and blood circulation.

As is true of all addictive substances, the amount of caffeine needed to produce mental stimulate increases with regular use. Larger doses are progressively required to achieve the same original effect. If we do not get our fixed amount everyday it may result in drowsiness and headaches. The most common withdrawal symptom is a throbbing headache, usually at the temples but occasionally at the back of the head or around the eyes.

Gauge Your Risk: The coffee drinkers can be classified into 3 categories:-

  1. Low – caffeine consumes (those who drink zero to two cups per day)
  2. Moderate – caffeine consumes (those who drink 3-4 cups a day)
  3. High – caffeine consumers (those who drink more than 5 cups daily)


In my opinion, most of the negative effects of caffeine are not a concern with low-caffeine consumption i.e. about 150mg daily (what exists in 2 cups of coffee). The risks vary with the level of caffeine intake, gender, age and individual sensitivity. A total of over 500mg of caffeine daily (that which exists in seven or more cups a day) is considered high intake and that level of caffeine consumption could prove potentially harmful in the long run.


As for research which states that there are little or no health problems even with 6-8 cups a day, after a couple of years there may yet be another study which may shoot down these findings and would hold caffeine consumption a major contributor to heart and health problems. Therefore, if you have got into the coffee habit, keep your intake under 250mg of caffeine, which is a maximum of zero to two cups a day.


For those who want to give up the coffee habit, here are some tips on detoxification:-

  • Drink loads of water:- Start drinking at least 6-8 glasses of filtered water or mineral water preferably on an empty stomach in the morning.
  • Try substitutes for coffee:-Switch to herbal teas, which do not contain any caffeine or with black tea, which has less than half the caffeine present in a cup of coffee.
  • Regulate your diet:- You should eat a diet that is mainly alkaline in native. Make your meals with steamed vegetables, salads, soups, fresh corn, whole grains, soya products like toffee and nuts, sprouts, plenty of fresh fruits and some dry fruits like black raisins, sesame seeds. Your aim should be to add fiber to your diet to avoid constipation after giving up coffee.
  • Reduce your intake of acidic foods such as meat (all flesh food), sugar and refined flour (maida).
  • Add vitamins & minerals to fight the withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, drowsiness, weakness and even depression. Vitamin C along with B-complex vitamins will help balance our energy levels and reduce stress during the withdrawal process.
  • Some minerals especially calcium, magnesium, zinc and potassium also foster the detoxification process.


After taking all these efforts, if you feel like drinking a cup of coffee during the detoxification phase, then do so in the mid or late afternoon as it will not effect your sleep hours.


To wind up, an addiction to caffeine is not as vicious as an addiction to other drugs. Thus even if you are one of the victims, you can easily give up coffee by tapering it off rather than turning cold turkey. The coffee- lovers can safely enjoy their drink by restricting the habit to only 1-2 cups daily. Even after complete withdrawal and detoxification from caffeine, it is possible to use it in moderation, but with care, as it can be re-addicting.


(As published in Hindustan Times dated September 23, 2019)

September 23, 2019

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