The Caffeine Factor

Every morning, you awaken feeling tired and sluggish until you get that morning cup of joe. If you're like many people, you need a jolt of caffeine to get you moving, be it a cup of coffee or tea. According to a study in 2004, 87 percent of adults and 76 percent of children have caffeine in their daily diets, which is higher than the 82 percent and 43 percent, respectively, found in 1977.

The fact is, caffeine is a drug, a legal stimulant found in numerous foods and medications that can have profound effects on the central nervous system. Over the years, caffeine has been accused of contributing to a host of diseases and conditions, but no link has ever been confirmed.

What we do know is that caffeine stimulates your body's production of adrenaline, one of the fight-or-flight hormones. Although the initial surge of adrenaline gives you an energy boost, its subsequent decline causes a crash that can trigger carb cravings and overeating. Caffeine also causes a temporary rise in blood pressure and more frequent urination, which can increase your excretion of calcium. In excess, caffeine can cause insomnia, anxiety, and heart palpitations.

Where's the Buzz?

Caffeine is found in a variety of foods, including coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate. It is also found in energy drinks, caffeinated water, diet aids, cold remedies, and certain menstrual pain relievers.

Restrict Caffeine

People who have thyroid disease should be wary about consuming too much caffeine. In people who have hyperthyroidism, too much caffeine can exacerbate your symptoms and make you feel even more nervous, anxious, and jittery. It can also worsen any heart irregularities.

Essential

If you're trying to cut back on your caffeine intake, do it slowly, one cup at a time, one day at a time. Cutting down abruptly in people accustomed to several cups a day can cause headaches, drowsiness, and problems with concentration. You might also want to try substituting decaffeinated beverages or water for coffee.

If you have weight problems associated with hypothyroidism, you may be tempted to try diet aids that contain caffeine. Caffeine's stimulant effects do seem to temporarily enhance weight loss. But the effects on weight come with a price, namely anxiety, nervousness, and sleep problems. In turn, the lack of quality sleep can stimulate your appetite, which would sabotage any weight-loss efforts. The bottom line is this: try to consume as little caffeine as possible.

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