Are You Sensitive to Caffeine? Coffee, Your Genetics & Symptoms

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– Who doesn’t love a good cup of coffee? Well, I don’t, at least anymore because of the effects it does to me. Caffeine and coffee can provide a competitive advantage, but for others, the caffeine can trigger anxiety, fatigue, and yes, even depression. So, in this video, I’m gonna break down what you need to know. This is essential viewing especially if you think you may be sensitive or even allergic to caffeine. Before we dive in, be sure to like, subscribe, grab a copy of my best-selling book “Unstoppable.” And stay tuned for the anticipated release of the “Unstoppable” daily bio-hacking journal, which is the first of its kind to help measure your progress, uncover hidden triggers that dull your focus, and provide proven bio-hacking strategies to increase your productivity. I’ve lived in Melbourne, Australia for most of my life up until my recent move to the US. And as many know, Melbourne has some of the best coffee in the world, which is backed up in a survey by Booking.com. Coffee is hard to resist and most of us rely on it to kickstart our brain first thing in the morning.

The problem, your daily dose of this psychoactive substance can be doing more harm than good. While coffee, in particular the caffeine in it, has countless benefits for some including alertness, general mental function and reaction time, due to it causing changes in several neurotransmitters, there is a group of people, me included, who are highly sensitive and even sometimes allergic to it. You see, caffeine can cause panic attacks by interfering with adenosine, a brain chemical that typically has a calming effect. But it also raises levels of lactate, a biochemical implicated in producing panic attacks. Moderate and high consumers have shown to demonstrate higher levels of anxiety and depression than those who didn’t consume it.

High consumers also have a higher incidence of stress-related medical problems and a lower academic performance. One mind-blowing story that I came across when I was researching “Unstoppable” is that of Ruth Whalen, who in her book “Welcome to the Dance: Caffeine Allergy,” shares her story of being diagnosed with ADHD, OCD, anxiety, panic, bipolar disorder, and even schizophrenia. Unaware of her own caffeine allergy, she was actually institutionalized for over 40 years. The doctors had misdiagnosed her allergy for psychological disorders. Now while this is an extreme case, many of us may still experience a sensitivity to caffeine that often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as anxiety, fatigue, and depression. This could be the result of an inflammatory response within the body.

Now, inflammation has been connected to depression, and there are trials underway where anti-inflammatories are being combined with antidepressants with great success. But are pills always the answer? Well, not always especially if the simple trigger could be easily removed from the diet. While few may be truly allergic to caffeine as Ruth was, others may have a sensitivity to it. And these symptoms may include anxiety, nervousness, abdominal cramps, muscle spasms, jitteriness, unease, irritability, mood swings, anger, depression, headaches, migraines, delusions, hallucinations, panic attacks, and, of course, insomnia. So, why can caffeine cause some people to go over the edge? Well, in this instance, psychosis occurs because caffeine increases adrenaline, which increases dopamine in the brain, our feel-good neurotransmitter. But high levels have been linked to psychosis and schizophrenia. For some, these symptoms usually go away when a person stops drinking it and it’s left their system. For some, this could be the result of having a genetic predisposition towards being slow caffeine metabolizers. This means it has the potential for it to build up in the bloodstream and do more harm than good, resulting in the aforementioned symptoms as well as increasing their risk of having a nonfatal heart attack or high blood pressure.

Now it’s critically important to be aware of your own body’s unique response. We all know what it’s like when we have too much. We’re bouncing off the walls. We can’t focus, and we certainly can’t sit still. Bouts of my own personal depression, anxiety were the result of caffeine even as low as a couple of cups of coffee per day or consuming strong teas. So before you blame your anxiety on a poor attitude, I want you to take a step back and keep a food journal to see if any foods, in particular caffeine, could be a contributing factor.

It may not be a sensitivity. It could even be the excessive consumption of it, which results in diminishing returns, such as an intense crash after it’s left your body. If you do believe it is a sensitivity because you have a reaction to it, you can confirm it by having a genetics or food sensitivity test done, which can help you rule it out or in. If you are sensitive to it, even a small amount of caffeine could result in symptoms, and may occur because your body struggles to process and eliminate it.

As the very first step before you hate on me, I’m not telling everyone to give up coffee by any means, but if you do believe you’re being affected by it, remove it from your diet for a minimum of 30 days but do so gradually, reducing your daily intake so you don’t experience intense withdrawal symptoms and ultimately become a bitch or a bastard. Caffeine tends to pop up in a lot of our food sources, not just in coffee. But also various teas, energy drinks, soft drinks, workout bars, cocoa, and even my previous favorite weekend snack, which was chocolate, I can no longer have, which kind of sucks. But my side-effects from having it are simply not worth it. If you’re experiencing headaches, anxiety, panic attacks, and fatigue, or even depression like I was, before you drink that next cup of coffee or tea, realize it could be the stimulant that’s the root of your rut and not the savior you think it is.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight and please don’t hate on me in the comments section because I’ve brought awareness to potentially quite a big issue that’s been misdiagnosed in many people. And of course, grab a copy of my best-selling book “Unstoppable.” And stay tuned for the “Unstoppable” daily journal coming out this New Year so you can bio-hack your way to an unstoppable you. Until next time, have an incredible week, and you may need to kick the coffee. Take care..

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