Coffee may be toxin to body rather than refresher
By Nah Hyo-jin
Physician in rehabilitative medicine
In recent days, people are reliant upon coffee rather than stretching or exercises when they get up in the morning because they believe that the coffee helps refresh them and boost productivity in the work.
It is true that caffeine has an awakening effect of human body. Just 45 minutes after intake, it has the effect of warding off drowsiness. If sugar is added, it makes people feel energetic as the blood sugar level rises.
However, unfortunately, coffee drinkers feel tired when caffeine is drained out from body and then they want to drink again. It may lead them to drink three cups of coffee or more a day.
The problem is that it causes caffeine addiction. The main symptoms include irritability, nervousness, excitability, insomnia, diarrhea, unstable moods, flushes, frequent urination, stomach problems, tremors and restlessness.
If you drink two cups of coffee or more and feel five symptoms or more among the above ones, you may be a coffee addict. Caffeine itself is the cause of headaches. If you take four cups or more a day, you would naturally suffer headache.
Withdrawal symptoms are another problem. It takes 12 to 24 hours for coffee is drained out of the body completely. It may take more hours if liver function is poor. The symptoms appear when caffeine has nearly disappeared from the body, peaking in 48 hours. If you feel fatigue and headache every weekend, it is a kind of withdrawal symptom. If you feel that headache disappears on weekends with one cup of coffee, it is highly probable that you may be addicted to caffeine.
The more you take coffee, the more you feel withdrawal symptoms. It is easier for Koreans to get addicted to coffee than Westerners as the acceptable level of intake is small and metabolic rate is low due to their smaller physique.
Americans are recommended to take 400mg of caffeine a day, which may be large for Koreans. One cup of coffee or two would be proper a day; but it is not so easy for people to distance themselves from caffeine as they are now exposed to chocolate, soda pops and other foods which contain caffeine.
Once you suspect you are a caffeine addict, you have to keep off coffee. But it is better to reduce the amount to zero slowly rather than quitting coffee in one attempt. Decaf beverage or warm water may replace the desire for caffeine and vitamin C or fresh fruit supply vitamins which will lessen any headaches.
It is desirable for you to make efforts to stop drinking coffee or reduce it if heartburn, chronic gastritis, diarrhea and headaches are caused by caffeine.
Translated by Lee Ji-eun, Korea Times intern.