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7 scary things that can happen to your body when you drink too much coffee

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  • Caffeine is a psychoactive drug that can affect your body physically and mentally.
  • You can get dependence and withdrawal symptoms from drinking coffee regularly.
  • Caffeine can make you more stressed out and irritable.

 

If you're like most of America, you're probably completely dependent on coffee for an extra boost of energy — after all, the US is the world's biggest coffee consumer.

However, most of what we thought we knew about the physical and mental effects of drinking coffee is wrong. Coffee won't stunt your growth or cause heart palpitations, and, believe it or not, a cup of coffee a day won't hurt a developing fetus (just try not to overdo the Starbucks venti orders if you're expecting).

But caffeine — whether it's consumed in the form of an energy drink or a cup of coffee — is a psychoactive drug. And like all drugs, caffeine has some pretty powerful effects on the body. 

From insomnia to irritability, keep scrolling to find out how your morning cup of Joe is really affecting you. 

SEE ALSO: I cut coffee out of my life and I've never felt better

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The more coffee you drink, the more coffee you will need.

"Becoming habituated to drinking coffee is when your body gets used to having caffeine — you can easily become psychologically dependent on it," Dr. Kathryn Boling, a primary care physician at Mercy Personal Physicians at Lutherville in Maryland, told INSIDER.

The purpose of caffeinated drinks like coffee or Red Bull is to keep us energized and focused. Caffeine mimics a "sleepy" chemical in our brains called adenosine. To the brain, caffeine looks a lot like this chemical, which declines as you sleep so that you naturally feel more awake in the morning. 

Caffeine can trick your brain by attaching itself to the adenosine receptors, which can block the buildup of this "sleepy" chemical. Eventually though, your brain catches on, and you'll feel even more tired than usual if you stop drinking coffee. 

That's why the more coffee you drink, the more you have to drink to make it through the day. 



Just like with any other drug, there are dependence and withdrawal symptoms.

Caffeine is classified by scientists as one of the most common psychoactive drugs in the world. Because it is a drug, the effects of consuming caffeine regularly will have the same effects of any other drug, like dependence and withdrawal.

"If you're a coffee drinker and you abruptly stop drinking it, you’ll feel sluggish," Dr. Boling said. "You have a strong reaction because it is a drug. Our bodies become used to getting that drug to wake up and focus. You get this terrible headache and it won't go away until you have that cup of coffee. Similar effects can be observed with nicotine withdrawal."

According to a 2013 survey in the Journal of Caffeine Research, "the majority of addiction professionals believe that caffeine withdrawal and dependence disorders exist." However, caffeine addiction is not yet recognized as an official diagnosable disorder.

A review of more than 60 studies and surveys published in the International Psychopharmacology journal found that people suffering from caffeine withdrawal experience symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, depression, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and — in some cases — flu-like symptoms. 



Drinking multiple cups of unfiltered coffee a day can lead to long-term heart problems.

"Anyone who has ever drank too much coffee knows what that feels like: Your hands get shaky, you feel jittery, and and your heart rate goes up," Dr. Boling said. 

While the physical symptoms of anxiety associated with drinking too much caffeine may not actually cause heart palpitations (even though it feels that way), the long term effects of a heavy coffee habit (more than four cups of coffee a day) might contribute to increased risk of heart disease and heart failure.

Your risk of cardiovascular heart disease has a lot to do with how coffee is prepared, according to a 2015 Italian study published in the Public Library of Science. The study concluded that drinking more than two cups of unfiltered espresso or cappuccino does have a negative effect on heart health.

"In this study, the risk of coronary heart disease was significantly greater than reference (<1 cup/day) for those whose intake of Italian-style coffee was greater than two cups per day," the study's authors concluded. "The preparation method can affect the concentrations of diterpenes and caffeine."

 If you're drinking only a couple of filtered cups of coffee a day, however, you might actually improve your heart health.

 



See the rest of the story at INSIDER

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