The drop on caffeine ….


My daughter’s partner is a self confessed coffee snob. He will travel miles for the perfect cup. He takes hours making his own cold drip coffee. He gets other people to snaffle up special beans for him when they are available. He talks about coffee like other people talk about wine – lots of whimsical adjectives like ‘citrussy, smooth, sharp and bright’. He is taking great delight in my daughters budding coffee appreciation and I love watching how happy it makes him when he finds or makes some that makes the grade. So is this an innocent enjoyment or an unhealthy habit ????

Australia’s caffeine consumption is going up and up. Our cafe culture, home coffee machines, caffeinated drinks and dietary supplements all contribute to our caffeine intake.

There is no doubt that a small amount of caffeine can improve performance with mental acuity, focus and energy increased by about 10% with a morning coffee hit. Other benefits include antioxidant effects which reduce risks of cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimers Disease and diabetes.

The problem with caffeine consumption is that most people have too much and they combine it with things like cows milk and sugar which blocks our ability to absorb the beneficial aspects of caffeine. Too much coffee also places a strain on liver function, overloading our detoxification system.

A small coffee contains approximately 100mg of caffeine and tea about 35mg. So called ‘energy drinks’ contain between 80 and 220mg of caffeine. Dietary supplements such as pre-workout supplements contain between 150 and 400mg.

The products containing high levels of caffeine are not safe or beneficial, especially for children, and I am often alarmed by how many people I see regularly consuming potentially harmful products. The risks add up when combined with other toxins such as alcohol e.g. Red Bull and Vodka drinks.

Caffeine has a half life of eight hours. This means that eight hours after your 100mg caffeine coffee you will still have 50mg in your system.

Your liver can only metabolise 30-40mg of caffeine at a time so regardless of how much more caffeine you consume you will still only be able to metabolise and use the original amount you ingested. When you have multiple doses of caffeine throughout the day you can’t actually use it so it accumulates in your body. These high accumulated levels can become problematic causing or contributing to anxiety, insomnia, cardiovascular problems, mood disorders, headaches, skin and digestive problems.

Caffeine in pregnancy – pregnant Mum’s need to take particular care. Adult livers are about the size of your fist, babies only the size of a five cent piece. Adult livers detoxify caffeine in 8 hours, babies take 128 days so it makes sense to avoid caffeine while pregnant and breast feeding.

So, have a coffee if you enjoy it but be careful about overloading your liver and undoing any benefit you might gain from it. Try swapping to lower caffeine teas, decaf coffees, herbal teas or caffeine free alternatives.