Coffee is one of the most extensively consumed drinks worldwide due to its stimulating effects on the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, popular taste, and aroma. As a result, a significant amount of people consumes caffeine-containing beverages, and some of them have an addiction to them. According to Nieber (2017), 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed each day worldwide. For the experiment, I chose caffeine as a substance to refuse for two weeks as it is a drink I have been consuming for an essential part of my life. Furthermore, it was attractive to study the effects of the body after refraining from it and research the level of addiction I had for it. During the testing, I noted the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual effects on my body and will present them in this work.
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Caffeine was first obtained from cocoa beans into its natural form in the 1820s by the German scientist Friedrich Ferdinand Runge. It is absorbed by the stomach and the small intestine within 45 minutes of oral ingestion. Caffeine breaks down in the liver into three primary metabolites: paraxanthine, theobromine, and theophylline (Nieber, 2017). The half-time of caffeine varies widely among individuals depending on their age, liver function, some drug usage. For instance, for women taking oral contraceptives, half-time of caffeine is twice increased. People’s addiction to coffee and its effects on human health have been widely discussed and studied over the last decades. Heavy coffee consumption (more than 6 cups per day) was associated with a modest increase in cardiovascular disease risk. This association was unaffected by genetic variants influencing caffeine metabolism (Zhou & Hyppönen, 2019). Hence, coffee has relatively mild effects on public health according to consumers’ dose and individual characteristics.
From my perspective, excluding coffee was not an easy decision. Within two weeks, the first five days of the experiment, I felt the lack of a daily dose of caffeine. Cravings for coffee, lack of sleep, irritation, and headaches, made me think negatively to surroundings. However, closer to the end of the second week, the general condition of the body improved, my mood was better, and I felt more energized. I did not notice many changes for the biological effects, except for the weight loss of 3 pounds, which was a pleasant and positive effect from the experiment. My heart rate or blood pressure probably changed during the investigation, though I did not feel it.
The possible reasons for restless sleep at the beginning of the experiment are abstinence from caffeine, and some effects coffee has on the human body’s receptors. According to Clark and Landolt (2017), caffeine promotes wakefulness by antagonizing adenosine A1 and A2A receptors in the brain. It is known that adenosine receptor agonists encourage sleep. After refraining from coffee, the body had a period for receptor recovery from antagonists to make them work properly again. It is hard to mention all the possible mechanisms for restless sleep because an extensive part of the molecular processes is still being studied.
The headaches can also be explained by the possibility of caffeine to contract vessels. After refusing the daily doses of it, the vessel walls struggled to contract and relax independently. The pathological dilatation of the vessels can be one of many reasons for headaches. However, after five days of the experiment, my headaches disappeared. Trying to find some substitution for coffee, I was drinking fruit and vegetable shakes to maintain the energy level from a different source. In my observation, fruits and vegetables helped me stay active and positive during the day as they contain vitamins and carbohydrates needed.
As for psychological effects, I noticed that coffee had become a daily ritual for me as it has always given me the needed concentration and focus throughout the day. However, in the first week without caffeine, I felt weak, irritated, disappointed, and depressed. According to the research by Distelberg et al. (2017), among forty-nine healthy adults, caffeine has shown a direct effect on anxiety and stress domains. However, after starting fruit and vegetable shakes on the fifth day, my energy level increased, my negative mood disappeared, and I felt more clear-minded.
Social aspects of life have changed noticeably for the first three days of the experiment. The absence of any will to communicate with neighbors and an endless desire to close inside from the outer world was chasing me in the beginning. Along with my perception, people also confirmed my mood changes and avoiding extra communication. I consider these changes connected with my level of energy at the start of the trial. Receiving a daily dose of caffeine, I had more strength due to the stimulative effect of the substation. Nevertheless, after refusing this beverage, the low-energy condition was constantly with me for at least three days.
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From a spiritual point of view, my daily rituals also changed after the start of the investigation. I regularly go for walks in the morning and enjoy the moment of being alone with God. These promenades help me connect myself with God, feel fresher and confident. At the beginning of the experiment, I felt weak and tired in the mornings and started making excuses for my spiritual walks. Consequently, I started feeling even more fragile and more depressed, and to fight this condition, I started saying personal prayers. Soon the energy level recovered, and my daily routines did the same. After moving to another place to live, I spoke to a nun in the new church, and she also helped by giving me a new prayer to overcome. With a belief in myself and God, I fought the addiction to caffeine and feel fresher and more energetic without it.
By the end of the experiment, I feel active and positive without coffee. It was not a simple two week-long way, but it was worth the condition I have reached by now. I came to the conclusion that all individuals tend to form habits and addictions. It is common to search for any possible ways to stay in the comfort zone, so we do not like drastic changes. It is ordinary to be dependent on things, attributes, other people. People need to look at addictions broader and be aware of them. Cellphones and their notifications have become so significant that without them, no one can manage to live. Drinking coffee to study or work longer, be more productive, never rest lead humans into an endless speed race.
I firmly believe a human being can manage everything without any doping. All that is needed is better planning of life. Addiction to work is also widespread as people do not notice how they start living at work, thinking about work, losing themselves, and the connection with their family at the same time. Be at the moment and stay yourself is key to real-life without addictions and side effects from them. I do not plan to consume longer coffee as I do not need any stimulants to control me. If once I feel tired, I will decrease my work and rest to stay in shape and have a better energy level the other day.
The addiction to coffee can be easily compared to the addiction to a drug, alcohol, or other substance. According to the effects on specific receptors, the abstinent step will always come after refraining. By limiting the concentration of any stimulant, the body’s first reaction will be to demand it and send signals to the central nervous system for its need. That is why cravings and desire thinking follow the behavior of any human after refusing. The withdrawal stage is not easy to overcome, and its length depends on the substation’s effects. For example, coffee is a milder stimulant compared to drugs, which means the phase of withdrawal from coffee will be shorter. However, breaking the dependency chain is mostly in peoples’ arms, and scientific explanations can be used as an excuse. According to Davies (2018), a neural mechanism is the cause of addiction, but humans are still responsible. Finding the strength to change lives is what most dependent people lack.
In conclusion, it is essential to say that the experiment influenced my everyday life with a positive impact, and I plan to refrain from coffee further. I want to be healthy and free from any stimulants and work as much as my body can handle. Along with studying biological, psychological, social, and spiritual effects on my body, I came to important conclusions that changed my life perception and showed that no stimulants are needed for a happy, satisfied and successful life.
Clark, I., & Landolt, H. P. (2017). Coffee, caffeine, and sleep: A systematic review of epidemiological studies and randomized controlled trials. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 31, 70-78. Web.
Davies, J. (2018). Addiction is not a brain disease. Addiction Research &Theory, 26(1), 1-2. Web.
Distelberg, B. J., Staack, A., Elsen, K. D., & Sabate, J. (2017). The effect of coffee and caffeine on mood, sleep, and health-related quality of life. Journal of Caffeine Research, 7(2), 59-70. Web.
Nieber, K. (2017). The impact of coffee on health. Planta Medica, 83(16), 1256-1263. Web.
Zhou, A., & Hyppönen, E. (2019). Long-term coffee consumption, caffeine metabolism genetics, and risk of cardiovascular disease: A prospective analysis of up to 347,077 individuals and 8368 cases. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 109(3), 509-516. Web.