Gather your torches and pitchforks, time to pillage the village! Caffeine is not as good for you as people may say. Now, I am not an abolitionist of caffeine, but it is one of the most widely tolerated psychoactive drugs in society. Have you ever gone a day or so without caffeine and had a headache set in, couldn’t think straight, couldn’t keep your head up? This more than likely is a sign you are dependent upon a substance to get you through the day. Aka, addiction. When your body becomes dependent on a substance it goes through withdrawals, same as alcohol. A lot of the stuff you are dealing with could be directly tied to overconsumption of caffeine.
Caffeine is a stimulant, obviously. The problem lies within the fact that we as first responders are constantly over stimulated mentally and physically. I would surmise that well over 80% of first responders have continually increased levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. First responders are on an adrenal roller coaster for the majority of their careers and lives. Going from asleep to one hundred miles an hour in a flash! This lifestyle wreaks havoc on our mind, body and spirit. Don’t believe me? Next time you are on hitch, start your Fitbit or Apple watch on a couple of calls and track the variability of your HR during the course of a call. You will note the ups and downs of your heart rate, literally. We all know that the majority of first responders do not train for this kind of lifestyle.
The daily recommended dose of caffeine is roughly 100mg to 150mg. First responders almost quadruple this amount! First responders are smashing caffeine to the dome when their body is naturally providing them with the boost they need in the morning time, doubling the dose of cortisol production. Our bodies give us what we need in order to survive. 8 to 9 am is prime time cortisol time for the body to give us a kick in the pants to get going. Caffeine promotes the production of cortisol, yet out body knows when to do it as well. Now caffeine affects everyone on different levels and we all metabolize it differently.
If you are waking up in the mornings and you need caffeine to be able to function then you are not fueling your body correctly, nor are you resting and recuperating. Over consumption of caffeine puts a strain on your already strained heart, kidneys, liver and brain. Like I stated earlier, we are not training and fueling our bodies for the onslaught of abuse we put them under. We take and take from our bodies, yet we never give. When the body starts breaking down, we ask, why? Well the answer is simple, abuse reaps breakdown. A lot of first responders divulge they have trouble sleeping, issues concentrating, restlessness, irritability, GI issues and heart issues. This could very well stem from an overconsumption of alcohol. I see a lot of people who are trying to lose weight making mistakes with coffee due to all the sugar and garbage they put into their soy chai mocha choca latte frappe fru fru sugar blast. On average, these drinks from the store front coffee places have 4 times the daily recommended dose of sugar in them. So in essence, you’re killing your body and making yourself fat in the process. Caffeine has also been shown to wreak havoc on the Gi system, more specifically the lining of your stomach.
First responders are overworked, underpaid, sleep deprived, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained. Fueled by caffeine, anger and ibuprofen. Being sleep deprived comes with its own host of issues, banging caffeine constantly adds to the already mounting issues. So when sleep deprived, dealing with mental health issues and or just stressed out, veer away from caffeine. Listen to what your body is saying, it tells you a lot when you listen. A lot of mental health issues can be attributed to the over consuming of a stimulant. If you are anxious, you probably do not need a high dose stimulant every day. Caffeine has been shown to trigger symptoms like depression, drowsiness, and headaches.
Food is fuel and your body needs good quality fuel. If you are having energy issues hit the gym or the walking track. Physical exercise is the best way to get a return on investment with your body and mind. Sleep sleep sleep, make sure you are maximizing your sleep routine when off duty. Refer to our blog on sleep hacks for more info, but seriously, sleep is your superpower. Make sure that you are eating good quality foods and hydrating properly. There is not faster way to zap your energy than a bad diet and being dehydrated. Caffeine is just masking a symptom of an underlying deficiency, kind of like a bandaid on a bullet hole.
You should also be supplementing with good quality vitamins and minerals. This job is hard on the mind and body, so make sure you are capitalizing every where you can. We recommend checking out ThinFitLines selection of vitamins, as well as products like Organifi. We are not sponsored by either, just good quality products. Also, I recommend taking a good B12 product. Jarrow makes a good one for you to try. B12 is water soluble so what you don’t need you just pee out. I also, with the blessing from your physician, I recommend Vitamin D with K2 (K2 helps with absorption) to help you not be so drained of energy. We get depleted from stress, poor sleep habits, bad diets and a hard lifestyle. If you are going to be in the arena, you have to train for war! A sheep in the jungle will just get mauled! I will link in the notes all of the products we talked about.
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