Written by Amy Pusey (last updated April 22, 2009)
Derived from combining the French 'cafe' and the German 'kaffee,' caffeine is consumed on a daily basis by more than 80% of the world's population. Its popularity is due to the stimulating effect it has on the body giving us energy and alertness we did not have before ingesting it. What is interesting about caffeine is that it is fully absorbed by the body in less than an hour, and yet the stimulating effects are practically worn off within a 3-hour period. While caffeine is processed by companies into a form that can then be used in their products, in its natural form it can be found in some fruits, seeds, and even leaves, such as cocoa beans or tea leaves.
A question under debate by health professionals is whether or not caffeine is addictive. As an individual who consumes many of these caffeinated items, I think it is totally possible because if I break my routine and do not have certain foods or beverages regularly, I feel how my body reacts to not having them. Caffeine is known to affect people in various ways, including their stamina and mood. In addition, it makes one wonder how medical professionals could believe it is not addictive when individuals experience obvious withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly eliminate caffeine entirely from their diets. And, the actual withdrawal period from caffeine can last anywhere from 2-9 days. This might explain the early-morning rush on the local coffee shops. The professionals who believe caffeine is an addictive substance say that evidence of actual withdrawal symptoms is proof that the body develops a dependence on it, and that is valid enough to signify addictive qualities.
However, others will continue to state that it is not addictive, and what draws individuals like you and me to consume caffeine in one form or another is that we are attracted to the product that contains it because of its taste, its pleasant smell, and that it may be a socially popular item. This position further indicates that research shows only repeated, heavy consumers of caffeine display the addicted behavior, and infrequent or average consumers do not display it. The summary of the viewpoint is that the majority of individuals consume caffeine out of developed habits, and not because their body desperately craves it due to addiction. One of the positive qualities of caffeine is that it never builds up inside the body.
There are symptoms associated with excessive use of caffeine, which the medical professionals refer to as intoxication or abuse. If you think you consume far too many caffeinated products on a daily or even regular basis, take a look at these symptoms to see if you recognize any of them in you. They include:
Now, if you have decided to eliminate caffeine from your diet. It is recommended by health professionals that this is done slowly, and not cold-turkey because of withdrawal symptoms that could be experienced. If you proceed to remove it from your diet, keep a look out for these withdrawal symptoms, and if any appear consider easing up on your elimination process. These symptoms can include:
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