Caffeine Free

“Caffeine is the most commonly used mood-altering drug in the world”

I am now +1 week cafeeine free. It was one of my New Year’s resolutions. I am drinking decaf in the morning, and laying off sodas (which I have been for a while now).

And after reading articles like this one by John Hopkins Medical Center, with words like “mood altering drug” and “reinforcer” , I am glad to have quit this particular drug cold turkey.

Question: How do you view America’s addiction to caffeine?  Good, bad, or neutral?

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7 thoughts on “Caffeine Free

  1. dakan69 says:

    I don’t drink coffee too often – maybe once or twice a month just because I like the taste. So when I do drink it, I usually make my own at home and it’s decaf. I agree that we shouldn’t allow our bodies to be relient upon any drug – only the Holy Spirit. Plus, it’ll save ya some money :P.

    I’ve heard some news reports that there’s stuff in coffee and tea that’s good for you though. Confirm/Deny?

  2. Callie says:

    Well, about America’s most prominent addiction: I think we could be addicted to worse things as a whole. Although I do think that sometimes (speaking more of recent times) we put too much weight on productivity, and this leads to the idea that more needs to be done, equals us needing stimulants to get all that is expected of us (by ourselves or others) done, equals staying up later, maybe some decreased health, etc. This, in my opinion, plays into the need for America to have everything bigger and better, and to grow without ceasing.
    All that said, I will admit that I am personally addicted to caffeine, perhaps to the extreme, as I literally cannot function without coffee in the morning (often 2-3 cups), and basically get a headache if I go too long without it. I tell people that at this point I use caffeine just to get me to ‘baseline.’ So, yeah, really I have no right to judge others.
    But, being that I am in graduate school at the moment, going for my PhD in neuropharmacology , I also feel the need to comment on the ‘good for you’ statement/question. Some studies do show that caffeine from coffee and tea have beneficial effects, including (short-term) raising awareness and reducing lethargy, and (long-term) decreasing the risk of heart disease. These long-term effects are due to the fact that caffeine is a phosphodiesterase inhibitor (phosphodiesterase is an inhibitor of cAMP), which effectively raises ATP production, providing ‘extra’ energy for heart muscle to use. But it also promotes vasoconstriction which can aggravate high blood pressure. So, basically if you don’t already have high blood pressure it is putatively cardio-protective. Some studies also suggest that it has anti-oxidant properties; and it is known to have anti-inflammatory effects, which is why it has been promoted as good for the skin (along with the vasoconstrictive actions mentioned above), and added to many health and beauty products. Tea has many other added health benefits not from caffeine, as well as those mentioned above. Overall, the benefits/risks of caffeine is a controversial topic among scientists, but most agree that, in moderation, there are no serious risks, and possibly some benefits. As with everything, it affects people differently, and has been shown to cause anxiety, GI disturbances, kidney issues (it is a mild diuretic), insomnia, mood problems, and or general ‘fuzziness’ in some cases. So, there is certainly reason to cut back, or remove it from the diet altogether – way-to-go, Marc!

    • Marc Buxton says:

      Thanks for the comment Callie. I find your expert (seriously) opinion a good read. I think you are right about caffeine addiciton being a result of our need to do more. But I also think it is a result of Starbucks, Coca-cola, PepsiCo, and the like understanding that if American’s are addicted, they will be reaching for their products more often. Don’t you think the science is there now to make these products taste okay without caffeine as an addative? I think so. Same thing with nicotine and cigarattes. These companies aren’t stupid; caffeine = profit.

      I understand the benefits of increased ATP production – my question is: do the benefits outweigh the concequences? As you say, that question is hotly debated. That is the scientific question. I am also concerned with the spiritual question that Cris raises. Does God want us having ANY “mood altering” substances other than His Spirit controlling our actions (no matter how “slightly”). That is my main wrestling match. I’m not losing sleep over it, mind you. But it’s an interesting developing conviction….

      Any other thoughts people?

  3. Alicia Sawyer says:

    Wow. There are actually a lot of issues in this concept. I’ll say this… I think we as Americans have failed the Lord in many many ways. It’s more than simply caffeine. I understand the mind-altering drug issue side of it all, but I think we as Americans have created a socially acceptable atmosphere that doesn’t resemble Jesus at all. We have certain “pet” sins that we ignore because it’s socially acceptable. Caffeine can fit into this, movies with filthy language (isn’t one “bad” word enough to make the movie unacceptable?), greed (don’t get me started on Black Friday..) dress, music….it can go on and on. I am finding the more I desire to rid my life of the “pet” sins, the more I don’t “fit” the American standard. I’m sorry I know this is mainly about Caffeine, etc., but I have questioned my own self on how Christ-like I can be, even if it means changing the socially acceptable sins that have taken hold in my life…

    • Marc Buxton says:

      Right. I think the issue is to make the Word of God the norm, and not American culture. Which is a VERY difficult sell for a majority of Christians, much less the general populace.

  4. Callie says:

    Oh, sure these things CAN taste fine without caffeine, and you are certainly right about part of the marketing being the addiction itself. In fact, Starbucks’ coffees (and some other gourmet brands) contain quite a bit more caffeine (over 50% more) than others, for this very reason, so this is a good point you bring up.

    As for whether the ‘mood altering substances’ are edifying, I think this is certainly something to think about, but it could be taken to the extreme as well. For example, if we say this about caffeine, we also have to include food, which can be very mood-altering, and affects the ultimate ‘mood-altering’ substances – neurotransmitters – in our brain. Not that there is not a Biblical perspective for eating right as well. I do think that we should question everything, though, so including these things in thought and debate is something to be praised.

    I also think that our worst ‘pet’ sins go deeper than addiction to caffeine, including some of those Alicia mentioned, like greed, and I would add pride and legalism right on top. These are the sins that cause us to come up with NEW laws – rules that are not Biblical, stripping us of the glorious freedom in Christ that we are given in salvation, and only making us better at hiding behind lists of rules we can obey in order to cover those we never will. In this we forfeit part of the gift of salvation and still never really get at the deeper meaning of our true sinfulness. We also give up the right and responsibility to teach and practice moderation, which is sometimes harder to do than to just go to one end of the spectrum. One of my favorite songs deals with this issue by saying: “What’s the use in trading a law you can never keep for one you can, but cannot get you anything.”

    Of course, allowing only the Holy Spirit to sustain us is important, and Alicia makes a great point about ‘fitting the American standard.’ Christians shouldn’t. But I don’t think a few movies with cursing or addiction to caffeine is the biggest issue. The most important thing, I think, refers to what she said about her desires. We are free in Christ, and this is a radical concept that is true but that Christians sometimes don’t feel comfortable with (we like rules – in some ways they are easier). This freedom includes the freedom to not obey (of course this doesn’t please the Lord, but it doesn’t mean He doesn’t give us that freedom), and the freedom to be wrong (which WE don’t like). The crux is that ‘what we want’ changes as our ‘will is conformed to the will of Christ.’ And maybe, for some, that includes giving up caffeine.
    (ok, sorry my posts are so long, compared to everyone else’s).

  5. Jonathan says:

    I don’t see a per se problem with mood altering drugs like caffeine and alcohol. I agree with Jason … moderation is the purification of the soul. In fact, the Bible states that the “mood altering” aspect of wine is a blessing from God (see verses below). Obviously, God’s Word also warns against drunkeness. The key is that being a slave to ANYTHING (mood altering or not) other than God is a sin. I’m not so much concerned with the “health factor” because pretty much 99.9% of the things we eat are bad for us to some extent. We live in the south … if we’re not eating BBQ or something fried we’re eating vegetables that have been hosed down with pesticides.

    Psalm 104:14-15
    He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.

    Proverbs 31:6-7
    Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

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