Quick fixes for curbing your caffeine intake

For most of us, years of coffee drinking will have no ill-effects — in fact, surprising research suggests that coffee-drinkers have a 30 to 60 percent lower risk for type 2 diabetes. But if you're extra-sensitive to caffeine, drink several cups per day of supercharged espresso or cappuccino, or have cut nutritional corners elsewhere in your diet, a highly caffeinated lifestyle could pose some health problems.

Downing more than four cups of regular coffee (or as few as two espressos or other high-caffeine javas) can cause the following:

  • Anxiety,
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness

Experts say that once your body is used to caffeine, it probably doesn't affect blood pressure. But some research suggests that in the short term, the amount of caffeine in 500 to 750 millilitres (two to three cups) of coffee can raise systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 3 to 14 points and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 4 to 13 points.

Quick fixes for curbing your caffeine intake

The good news

Since caffeine's effects are relatively short-lived, cutting back will lessen them in a day or two. You'll feel calmer, sleep better and know you're protecting your bones from fracture risks.

A simple plan

  • Skip caffeinated beverages after noon.
  • If you drink caffeinated drinks for their energizing effects, drink them in the morning and leave it at that.

Caffeine lingers in your system for three to seven hours. A cup after lunch could create sleep problems at bedtime.

Avoid caffeinated drinks before your next blood pressure check.

If your numbers drop after cutting caffeine, consider switching permanently to decaffeinated versions of your favourite drinks.

Get plenty of calcium.

1. If you love coffee but hate dairy products, baby your bones by taking enough calcium supplements to get 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day.

2. Also schedule a bone-density test. Studies show that coffee-loving women who also got less than 740 milligrams of calcium a day (the amount in two glasses of skim milk and a half-slice of cheese) lost bone density faster than women who drank less coffee — or got more calcium.

If that's you, make up for lost time by increasing your calcium intake and getting a bone-density scan to see if you need help bolstering your bones.

Transition to decaf.

If caffeine is jangling your nerves, but you love the taste, buy a bag of decaffeinated coffee and one of your favourite caffeinated blends. Mix a little decaf into your morning brew. Over the course of a month, add more and more decaf and less and less caffeinated. Your taste buds will adjust, and you'll feel less anxious without all that caffeine.

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