I STOPPED DRINKING COFFEE FOR 7 DAYS – HERE IS HOW IT WENT.

Ever since I started college, almost three years ago, as a Biomedical Science major, I’ve had the opportunity to take a myriad of amazing science courses – from organic chemistry and biology to entomology and neuroscience. This past semester, however, I enrolled in a class that changed my life and perspective of food forever, Nutrition. Over the past five years, I’ve done a lot of research on how the human body works and the processes that take place to keep us alive, for which food is necessary. And while I had a decent understanding of those subjects, this class provided me with valuable information on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle through small changes like replacing white bread with 100% whole wheat bread and making sure I consume fish twice a week to provide my body with omega-3s. Of course, no human is perfect, and there, just like in anything else, exist what we call “guilty pleasures” – you know, those things we keep on doing even when we know we probably should not. – Well, mine is coffee. Oh, how I love a big cup of coffee in the morning! It just brings everything into perspective.

 

Don't take me wrong, coffee alone is not bad. In fact, studies have demonstrated that having a cup of coffee every day has a lot of health benefits. An article published by Healthline magazine in 2018 revealed that, according to a National Institutes of Health database, coffee does not only improve your energy levels, but it can also aid with fat burning by “[boosting] your metabolic rate by 3-11%". This article also mentioned that coffee beans contain important nutrients such as vitamin B12, B5, and B3, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Finally, coffee consumption, according to the same database, protects people from developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. 

 

And the list of benefits associated with does not end there; in fact, listing them all will require me to write a whole different article (Let me know if that if something you’d be interested in reading.)

 

So, the question remains: if coffee does all these great things to our body, then why did I decided to do this challenge? Well, the thing about these studies is that they, for the most part, are based on the consumption of coffee by itself, i.e., without all the added sugars and flavored creamers. My problem, however, is that I have a big sweet tooth, so I frequently -if not always- find myself adding two or more pumps of creamers that are already sweet and up to 3 sucralose packages. Yes, I know, IT IS BAD. And – as if that alone was not unhealthy enough- I realized that since quarantine started, I’ve increased my coffee intake to not one but two large cups a day. That is two large portions of pure sweetness a day. Now, while it is true that using sugar replacements, like sucralose, is considered to be much healthier than using regular sugar, there are also some negative health effects. According to an INSIDER article carefully reviewed by a registered dietitian and nutritionist Lisa Defazio, sucralose can increase sugar cravings and cause higher blood sugar. Moreover, studies conducted in animals “have shown that [sucralose] may affect gut health and cause GI issues.” 

 

Finally -and this relates to caffeine itself- even with all its benefits, increased caffeine consumption can also negatively impact a person’s health by causing insomnia and potentially raising blood pressure, according to the Caffeine Informer. Now, while it is important to pay attention to these verified caffeine potential risks, we must not forget that not all people experience the same effects. Therefore, it is also important to pay attention to the signs that your body gives you in response to a certain behavior, whether it is drinking coffee, eating a certain food, or performing a certain physical activity. In my case, and this is me just talking about my personal experience, I noticed that as I increased my coffee consumption, my voice became drier and rougher. Moreover, I realized that I had developed a coffee dependency; I caught myself being in a bad mood, having a terrible headache that lasted the entire day, and feeling restless on days where I did not drink coffee. 

 

I knew my relationship with coffee was becoming unhealthy, and I did not want my body to have to pay the consequences. That is when the idea of this challenge was born. 

 

Yes, I stopped drinking coffee for an entire week. Was it hard? Yes, it was. To keep me accountable and make the challenge even more official, I recorded everything on a notebook – from caffeine withdrawal symptoms to positive effects-. I have organized all the information, straight from my notebook, below.

 

Day 1

- As expected, I had a headache that lasted the entire day.

- I took a 1-hour nap today, which is not usual in me. It was extremely hard to wake up. 

- I’ve felt exhausted the whole day; I felt as If I had no energy when I was working out. 

- My eyes felt heavy the whole day. 

- I did not feel very eager or motivated to do things today. 

- My body felt very cold today. I even wore a sweater. 

- Digesting problems. 

Day 2

- I had a headache today, again. I took a pill and that helped a little but not much. 

- I wanted to take a nap again. I felt very tired, but I had a lot of things to do, so I pushed myself to stay awake.

- I was able to complete my workout even though I did not feel very energetic. 

- My mood was not bad, but I still don’t feel my best.

- I had a terrible stomach ache today. 

Day 3

- I woke up in a good mood today.

- I was able to finish more schoolwork without having my eyes feel like they were going to close at any minute. 

- I had a headache today, again, but it was less severe. 

- I took a 30- minute nap, and it was hard to wake up when the alarm went off. 

- My energy levels were higher today but still low compared to the days before the challenge. 

- My throat feels less dry today. 

Day 4

- I had a very slight headache this morning, but it went away within a few hours. 

- I had more energy to complete my physical activity today. My body did not feel weak like it did the previous days. 

- My throat is definitely less dry. It is easier to swallow food now. 

- My eyes did not feel heavy today. I did not feel the need to take a nap. 

- My mood was normal.

- My digestion is getting back to normal, but I had a slight stomach ache today. 

Day 5

- I did not have a headache today. That felt good. 

- I think my energy levels are almost back to normal 

- I did not nap today. My eyes feel ok now. 

- I was in a very good mood. 

- I completed my workout routine without a problem. 

- My voice is less raspy. 

Day 6

- Today was extra hard! I had breakfast with my friends, and one of them ordered a caramel latte. It was very tempting, but I was able to fight it. 

- No more headaches! 

- I worked out today and felt very energetic. I think my energy levels are increasing.

- No naps. 

- Even after talking to my friends for a long time, I did not feel as if my voice was going to crack at any moment. My throat feels good. 

- Digestion has gone back to normal! No more stomach aches.

Day 7 (Last day)

- No headache

- My body temperature is normal now. 

- My energy is increasing steadily. 

- I felt a little restless today, but I took a 30-minute nap, and I was just fine. 

- I craved coffee a lot today… It might be that my body and mind knew this was supposed to be the last day, so they made it extra hard to stay on track. 

- I feel very happy and proud of myself for finishing this challenge! 

 

So, that is how this challenge went! Overall, looking back at the first days where I literally had a headache the entire day, I do believe this challenge was harder than I expected. I knew I had – and maybe still have- a caffeine dependency, but I was not very aware of how bad it truly was. I’ve never really seen coffee as a stimulant; I never drink it to stay awake or have energy but rather to enjoy it, so it was very surprising to experience all the physical and mental exhaustion this past week. On the brighter side, I can tell you with all honesty that I’ve noticed a very positive change in how my throat feels. It is way easier for me to swallow food, speak louder, and even sing higher notes. I don’t have that feeling of dryness that made me feel so uncomfortable. That makes me very happy. Physiologically, I can say that my digestion is now regular. I don’t have stomach aches nor headaches anymore, which I believe means that my body is slowly adjusting to this new lifestyle. And emotionally, I feel extremely satisfied and happy with myself for having completed this challenge.

 

Do I have plans for the future regarding caffeine consumption? Yes, definitely. From now on, I’ve decided to decrease my coffee intake to once a day every other day. I am truly excited to see what positive effects this lifestyle change brings.

 

So, that is it for this article. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you ever decide to do this or another challenge that involves a healthy lifestyle change, let me know! You can always contact me through social media at: 

Instagram: @brenda_nvrro5

Facebook: Brenda Navarro

 

Best of luck and stay safe!