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The dangers of caffeine addiction

Yim Ji-Min

The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

 /  Fri, February 3, 2017  /  06:08 pm
The dangers of caffeine addiction

High doses of caffeine may even end up altering people’s moods, causing anxiety, nervousness, and jitteriness. (Shutterstock/File)

It is a well-known fact that Koreans love coffee. The dependence on caffeine to get though the day is spread among all age groups -- even teenagers reach for energy drinks to help them survive a stressful day of studying. 

However, such habits come at a cost.

Research conducted by the Korea Consumer Agency revealed that approximately 60 percent of students that consumed energy drinks with a high caffeine content suffered various side effects.

The intake of caffeine irritates the linings of the small intestine leading to indigestion. If this prolongs for some time, it could cause gastritis, IBS and Crohn’s disease.

What is more problematic is that it could also lead to insomnia.

According to a study by Johns Hopkins University, “when caffeine is consumed immediately before bedtime or continuously throughout the day, sleep onset may be delayed, total sleep time reduced, normal stages of sleep altered, and the quality of sleep decreased.”

(Read also: Study finds connection between coffee consumption, longevity)

This is mainly because the metabolic effects of caffeine increase heart rate, blood pressure and tension levels which disturb sleep.

High doses of caffeine may even end up altering people’s moods, causing anxiety, nervousness, and jitteriness.

This is especially true for teenagers who are more vulnerable to caffeine. There has been several cases reported outside of Korea where teenagers were sent to emergency rooms due to these side effects.

In the worst case scenario, the release of stress hormones and lack of sleep have even led to depression or suicidal thoughts.

“Overconsumption of caffeine does not necessarily suggest that teenagers would commit suicide, but it has been found through our research that the occurrences of suicidal thoughts have increased along with a more frequent caffeine intake,” Min In-soon, professor at Soonchunhyang University College of Medical Science, told The Korea Herald.

(Read also: Why mushroom coffee is hailed as next superfood)

“Korea is a country with one of the highest suicidal rates, and this is an important index reflecting the poor mental health state of our people. The younger generation in Korea are susceptible to such risks as they heavily rely on caffeine for their studies.”

However, despite such side effects, an individual may suffer from symptoms of caffeine withdrawal if they suddenly reduce the intake. Rather, a gradual decrease by substituting coffee with other beverages is recommended.

The best alternative to coffee is tea. Resorting to green tea rather than black tea would help cut down one’s caffeine intake in a more significant manner. Also, taking the time and effort to brew tea from lose leaves rather than tea bags is suggested.

For those that prefer iced Americanos compared to a hot latte, fresh fruit juice may be a better option. Lemon and pomegranate have a sour taste that can stimulate the senses and keep one awake while replacing caffeine with other energizing nutrients such as vitamin C and potassium. 

This article appeared on The Korea Herald newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post