The Harmful Effects Of Caffeine

All should bear a clear testimony against tea and coffee, never using them. They are narcotics, injurious alike to the brain and to the other organs of the body.

Counsels on Diet, 430

Historically, caffeine has been a crowd favorite (in the form of tea and coffee) for thousands of years. Among its many accolades, caffeine is touted to improve brain function and mood, raise the metabolic rate and increase fat-burning, enhance physical performance, reduce the risk of type II diabetes, lower the risk of dementia and neurodegenerative disorders (like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), possibly decrease the risk of liver cancer and liver cirrhosis, and provide the modern western diet with its greatest source for antioxidants. With such a list of claimed benefits, what could possibly be so harmful about caffeine? You’re about to find out. 

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is broadly known as astimulant and is classified as amethylxanthine alkaloid.

Stimulant

 “Tea and coffee are stimulating.”Counsels on Diet, 425

A stimulant (or “upper”) is defined as anything that raises the physiological or nervous activity within the body, which is a nice way of saying that it pushes the human body beyond its ordinary limits.

Methylxanthine Alkaloid

 “[Caffeine] is poisonous to the system. Christians should let it alone.” Counsels on Diet, 421(“caffeine” will read as: “tea” and “coffee” in the original)

Methylxanthine alkaloids are drugs produced either naturally as a toxic defense mechanism of plants or unnaturally in a lab. They are bitter-tasting, which is creation’s polite way of informing a consumer of its toxicity. Aside from caffeine, other plant-based forms of methylxanthine alkaloids that emit this same bitter, toxic, “stay away” warning are cocaine, morphine, and nicotine

The Body on Caffeine

The Central Nervous System

“[Caffeine] is a hurtful indulgence. It temporarily excites the mind to unwonted action, but the aftereffect is exhaustion, prostration, paralysis of the mental, moral, and physical powers. The mind becomes enervated, and unless through determined effort the habit is overcome, the activity of the brain is permanently lessened.” —Counsels on Diet, 421 (“caffeine” will read as “coffee” in the original)

Caffeine excites the central nervous system. The central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord, is responsible for the integration of information it receives from the cells and senses. Together, the brain and the spinal cord coordinate and influence every part of the human body. Thus, the central nervous system is a conduit through which caffeine impacts the body as a whole.

When caffeine is consumed and introduced to this vital system, “feel-good” chemicals, such as dopamine, are rapidly increased within the brain (due to caffeine’s ability to antagonize adenosine receptors), which unnaturally, and unsustainably, modifies the consumer’s mood, perception, and emotional state. This is the reason caffeine is classified as a psychoactive drug.

When that drug wears off, mood and energy are brought low as the dopamine level decreases even less than its pre-caffeinated starting point. From thence, withdrawal symptoms emerge, and the consumer is made to feel that more caffeine is necessary.

While caffeine stimulates a rise in dopamine levels, it simultaneously blocks serotonin receptors, preventing proper communication between the gut and the brain. Serotonin is a vital chemical and neurotransmitter that has a strong impact on appetite, digestion, sleep, memory, mood regulation, bone health, sexual desire, and even social behavior. The inhibitory effects of caffeine cause a shift in serotonin levels throughout the body, which could lead to depression, dysfunction, and disease.

To make matters worse, caffeine causes hypoperfusion (shock) because, while it increases energy metabolism and the localized release of dopamine, it blocks adequate blood flow. This inhibited perfusion of blood results in inadequate supplies of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. This, alone, debunks the theory that coffee improves brain function. In fact, the very opposite is true.

The “Second Brain” or Gut Flora

“Tea and coffee do not nourish the system. Their effect is produced before there has been time for digestion and assimilation, and what seems to be strength is only nervous excitement. When the influence of the stimulant is gone, the unnatural force abates, and the result is a corresponding degree of languor and debility.” —Counsels on Diet, 424

Once the “caffeine buzz” is over, the serotonin is no longer inhibited. Serotonin communication lines are reopened and chemical dialogue between the gut and the brain commences. Unfortunately, ingesting caffeine can inhibit the growth of beneficial bacteria, which directly affects serotonin, among other chemical, hormonal, and bodily functions. Caffeine is a non-selective antibacterial agent, which mean it kills the “good” and the “bad” bacteria. In fact, a heated caffeinated beverage combined with its natural antibacterial capacities, will not only inhibit growth, but outright kill several strains of the gut flora. 

Without this “second brain” in a balanced, optimal condition, every function and every sense of the body is tampered with. Mental clarity is affected, along with mood, the absorption of nutrients, bowel function, and even immunity.

The Innate Immune System

“Diseases of every stripe and type have been brought upon human beings by the use of tea and coffee.” —Counsels on Diet, 421 

Caffeine is applauded for its positive effects on inflammation, yet what is never mentioned is how caffeine reduces the competence of the innate immune system.

The innate immune system is a component of the overall immune system. It is unlike the adaptive immune system in that it does not provide long-lasting immunity to the host. It does, however, act as the emergency first responders of the immune system, which is important since the average person comes in contact with thousands, if not millions, of foreign invaders in one form or another throughout each day.

If caffeine is ingested, the innate immune system will not be able to fully identify and remove harmful substances that have infiltrated the blood, glands, organs, and tissues, nor will it be able to adequately—if at all—signal the activation of the adaptive immune system. This means that pathogens will escape detection and capture, and the body will fall prey to illness and disease.

 Vital Organs

The Lungs:  In some circumstances, caffeine has been known to open constricted air passages, but what is rarely mentioned is its effect on breath rate. Caffeine induces a higher breath rate, which can cause too much stress on the heart and lungs, making it a veritable hazard to the elderly and those suffering from heart conditions, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The Heart:  Because caffeine raises epinephrine (adrenaline or “flight or fight” hormones) in the blood, the heart undergoes intense stress. High blood pressure, irregular heart rate, increased force behind every contraction of the heart, and raised heart rate are all the results of caffeine intake, regardless of age or fitness level. Those who insist on ingesting caffeine, despite their pre-existing heart conditions, could be inviting an early grave. Prolonged heavy use by those without conditions will still result in a permanent weakening of the heart.

 The Liver:  When caffeine combines with hydrochloric acid in the stomach, a toxin called caffeine hydrochloride is produced. The liver absorbs this and must neutralize and flush it out of the body to avoid systematic intoxication. While the liver is capable of this process, it still must endure tissue damage and the formation of scar tissue as it battles caffeine and other toxins the consumer has carelessly ingested. This eventually impacts the liver’s ability to function properly, leading not only to liver disease, but diseases elsewhere throughout the body as other systems and organs are left vulnerable to the toxins the damaged liver could not fully handle.

The Kidneys:  Caffeine affects the kidneys in a number of ways. 1. Because caffeine raises urinary calcium levels, kidney stones can arise or pre-existing stones will increase in size. 2. Caffeine acts as a diuretic in that it prevents the kidneys from absorbing water. 3. If the kidneys are able to adapt to caffeine intake and avoid dehydration (due to its diuretic effect) after prolonged use, this only means they are being overly-taxed. 4. If there are any pre-existing kidney conditions, caffeine only exacerbates them. This can result in increased risk of renal failure (kidney failure) or renal failure, period.

Sexual Function

Caffeine causes high blood pressure and contributes to heart conditions, which studies have shown have a direct effect on sexual dysfunction in men. Erectile dysfunction (ED) has been associated with not only hypertension and heart issues, but also inadequate sleep and increased anxiety—both of which are caffeine’s forte.

As for women, studies have shown that caffeine can reduce a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant by 27%. What’s most tragic is that the consumption of caffeine—by both man and woman two weeks prior to conception—increases the risk of miscarriage.

The Skin

Caffeine dehydrates the body. This, in turn, has an aging effect on the skin that only worsens with consistent consumption. In addition, caffeine tends to build up in the system and takes a considerable amount of time for the waste management organs to flush it out. When caffeine’s toxic build-up overwhelms these organs, the skin is utilized as a means to dispel it. This often results in conditions such as acne.

Social Effects

“When these tea and coffee users meet together for social entertainment, the effects of their pernicious habit are manifest….As the stimulating influence is felt, their tongues are loosened, and they begin the wicked work of talking against others. Their words are not few or well chosen. The tidbits of gossip are passed around, too often the poison of scandal as well….All these unkind criticisms, these exaggerated reports, these envious feelings, [are] expressed under the excitement of the cup of tea.” Counsels on Diet, 423

Caffeine temporarily increases alertness and energy, which can sometimes translate into momentary productivity. In social settings, however, this alertness and energy can result in obnoxious and inappropriate behavior. What is most common is chattiness, inability to focus “in the moment,” nervousness, fidgeting, increased excitability and irritability, and lack of self-control in both action and conversation.

Spiritual Effects 

What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.—1st Corinthians 6:19­–20, KJV

With the brain’s blood flow restricted and the entire central nervous system placed in “flight or fight” mode, the heart over-exerting itself unnecessarily, and the important communication between cells and neurotransmitters cut off, it should come as no surprise that any capacity to study the Word of God, memorize Scripture, commit to effectual prayer, or hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit would be significantly dampened.

Conclusion

“ Whether therefore ye eator drink, or whatsoever do, do all to the glory of God.1st Corinthians 10:31, KJV

Creation attempts to warn man of caffeine’s toxicity with its bitter taste, but to no avail. Not even the well-established facts surrounding caffeine’s poisonous effects, such as increased blood pressure, irregular heart rate, chronic insomnia, immune dysfunction, depression, nutritional deficiencies, impaired cognitive function, and impotence, have been enough to turn people away from the most widely-used drug in the world. (Sadly, over 89% of American adults consume it daily.)

Caffeine is accredited for many positive effects within the body, but all are temporary and dependent upon other health-affecting factors that far outweigh any pitiful benefits caffeine might offer. In truth, caffeine is a powerfully addictive drug that all of nature is trained to resist, but because of the careless, self-indulgent, yet self-damaging nature of man, caffeine is considered a staple item within the human diet. Greed and unnatural affections further caffeine’s cause, as modern man and woman pursue happiness at the risk of their own health. Late social nights, various forms of entertainment, and prolonged working hours (for the sake of “more money”) make the momentary effects of caffeine all-the-more appealing

 “In relation to [caffeine], the only safe course is to touch not, taste not, handle not. The tendency of tea, coffee, and similar drinks is in the same direction as that of alcoholic liquor and tobacco, and in some cases the habit is as difficult to break as it is for the drunkard to give up intoxicants. Those who attempt to leave off these stimulants will for a time feel a loss, and will suffer without them. But by persistence they will overcome the craving, and cease to feel the lack. Nature may require a little time to recover from the abuse she has suffered; but give her a chance, and she will again rally, and perform her work nobly and well.”—Counsels on Diet, 430 (“caffeine” will read as “tea, coffee” in original)

Genobia Simpson

Genobia Simpson

Genobia is a wife and mother, and her duty has always been in the kitchen. But now, as the Lord has given her a greater understanding of what it means to live a healthy lifestyle, she is able to supply nutritious meals and natural remedies (when necessary) for her family. She now has a great passion to share this wonderful truth with others who may not know where to start, how to prepare simple plant-based recipes, how to avoid sickness/diseases, and how to apply natural remedies.

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Words of Life

One reason why we do not enjoy more of the blessing of the Lord is, we do not heed the light which He has been pleased to give us in regard to the laws of life and health.

— Ellen G. White, The Review and Herald, May 8, 1883