If you are like me, caffeine is a daily part of your life in some way or another. You may not be able to imagine a life totally without it.
If you are like me, you also may have women’s/non-binary’s health related issues. Could caffeine be making these issues even worse or actually causing them? Those are two questions I was interested in having answered.
So to answer them, I did some research and decided to put up a post about what I learned!
A little bit about caffeine
Caffeine is actually considered a drug but it is accepted and used by many in various forms. It is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system.
It was first isolated in 1819 from mocha (coffee) beans. From there, the usage of caffeine really exploded (it had been gaining popularity since the 1600s). Coffee beans aren’t the only things that it is found in as things like tea, cocoa, Yerba Mate (plant), guarana (plant) and more have it too.
Some things that don’t have caffeine naturally in them, have the extraction added to them. This is the case for energy drinks, energy patches, pre-workout mixes, supplement/vitamin blends. There are also caffeine pills that just have it as the active ingredient.
Caffeine content is generally reported in milligrams. The following is a list of the amounts of caffeine in various commonly consumed things-
- Kola nuts: 10-50 mg per serving (2-3 nuts).
- Coffee: 80-130 mg per 8 ounces.
- Energy drinks: 80-100 mg per 8 ounces.
- Soda: 30-58 mg per 12 ounces (Pepsi One has the highest amount).
- Puerh tea: 60-100 mg per 8 ounces.
- Black tea: 40-50 mg per 8 ounces.
- Yerba Mate: 85 mg per 8 ounces.
- Oolong tea: 35-75 mg per 8 ounces.
- Green tea: 20-70 mg per 8 ounces.
- White tea: 10-60 mg per 8 ounces.
- Hot chocolate: 5-18 mg per 8 ounces.
- Chocolate candy: 0-60 mg per serving.
- Caffeine pills: 100-200 mg per pill.
- Pre-workout mixes: 150-375 mg per serving.
These numbers are just estimates. There are different variables and factors that go into the actual amount of caffeine that something contains.
Positives and negatives of caffeine
Consuming caffeine can have good and bad effects. The effects that one gets depends on how much they takes of it and how their individual body responds to it.
Here are some of the pleasant as well as uncomfortable things one may experience when putting caffeine in their body:
- May wake you up to be less groggy in the morning.
- May increase strength for weightlifting workouts.
- Increase in cardiovascular performance: You may be able to go for longer and/or push harder during cardiovascular work.
- Fat burning: It may increase your fat burning ability.
- Increase in memory and alertness: It may help your memory and the ability to be alert for work tasks and learning.
- May prevent diabetes.
- May provide a mood boost.
- May treat headaches and migraines.
- May decrease the risk of Parkinson’s.
- May stimulate growth, stop loss and thicken hair.
- Causes unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit or reduce intake. These include GI issues, insomnia and headaches.
- May make mental conditions worse.
- May cause anxiety and nervousness.
- May cause irregular heartbeats.
- May have a laxative effect and/or cause urine frequency.
- May change how fast your body breaks down medications.
- May block the effects of medications.
- May mess up blood sugar levels.
- May cause dehydration in your body which in turn may give your skin an aged appearance.
- May increase blood pressure.
- May deplete necessary nutrients such as vitamin B6 and B12.
Even though there are benefits to caffeine, taking a lot of it only increases the chances of experiencing the bad effects. Experts say it is best to not take more than 400 mg per day.
Caffeine and hormones
There is some evidence that caffeine can interact with our hormones in negative ways. Here are two hormones that caffeine can effect:
One of the hormones it may have an effect on is cortisol which is a stress hormone. Caffeine has shown to increase the hormone which then causes an increase in blood sugar levels. Having high blood sugar can lead one to experience things like nausea, increased hunger, headaches and brain fog.
One thing that has been seen with caffeine is that it can actually last longer in the body when one is taking estrogen treatments or birth control. This is not a good thing as it may be messing up one’s sleep cycle.
Another thing is that it can change estrogen levels especially if too much is taken. The direction that the estrogen level goes in, seems to be dependent on ones race. In Asians and blacks, a rise in estrogen has been seen. This is in contrast to whites in which a decrease in estrogen has been seen.
Variations in estrogen level can lead to things like hormonal imbalances, endometriosis, osteoporosis, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer.
Putting it all together
As you can see, caffeine can have negative effects in regards to women’s/non-binary people’s health. It can:
- Make anxiety and irritability that is experienced with PMS/PMDD, worse.
- Mess with one’s sleep cycle which can worsen mood issues (among other things).
- Raise blood sugar which in turn adds to and/or makes PMS/PMDD symptoms worse.
- Cause a hormonal imbalance which in turn can cause worse PMS/PMDD, lower sex drive, irregular periods, worsening mental conditions, headaches/migraines, weight gain, hair loss, ovarian cysts, insomnia, fatigue, brain fog and heavy bleeding.
- Deplete B6 which helps regulate hormones.
- Deplete B12 which can cause things like mood swings, fatigue, brain fog and memory problems.
Not every woman/non-binary person will experience these things. If one is experiencing a lot of mental and physical discomfort during their cycles, it may be a good idea to look at how much caffeine is being consumed. Quitting or reducing it may be the answer to feeling better.
My caffeine consumption and hormonal issues
I am guilty of having a higher than recommended maximum dosage of caffeine. Each day, I take in around 450-480 mg of caffeine. Yikes right?
I used to get most of my caffeine in the form of coffee, special coffee drinks (caramel macchiato to be exact!) and tea. Now it is mainly just caffeine pills and tea. I typically take 200 mg from the pills in the morning, green tea in the afternoon and another 200 mg from the pills before working out in the evening.
Since upping my intake of caffeine, I believe that I have had worse PMS/PMDD symptoms. When I look back at my health tracking journals, I experienced a lot of severe symptoms up until starting Claritin. It was like I barely ever had a good day.
While things are better, I still have my bad days (bad moods and extreme GI distress) and I think that maybe reducing the amount of caffeine may help me. My plan is to try and get my intake down to 300 mg for a while and see how I do at that amount.
I know that there will be always be some discomfort I feel due to my hormones and life itself but if reducing caffeine can help me in any way- I am willing to take less.
It is your decision
It can be hard to break up with caffeine-either part of the way or all of the way. For some people though, it may be a good idea to be more mindful about how much is being consumed. In terms of women’s/nonbinary health issues, it may be making them worse or it could be the cause of them.
How much caffeine do you take in each day?
Thanks for reading!
#caffeine #caffeinemolecule #womenshealth #nonbinaryhealth #pms #pmddtreatment #hormones #coffee #tea