coffee, Coffee, COFFEE!
So if anyone told me 6months ago that I'd have no desire for coffee anymore I would have doubled over in laughter. No desire...how could that be possible. Me and my best friend coffee had developed such a wonderful relationship. Coffee has brought me literally so much joy over the last few years - its been the inspiration for a location to get to with two young kids in tow, its been a medium which wonderful conversations have taken place around, its been a moment of 'calm' in the mix of wiping bottoms, cleaning up spills and generally keeping two kids alive. Its been my boost of energy to kick me into gear after relentless up and down nights. I'm sure all the parents out there hear me on this one.
Now when you read this I'm sure you're thinking Geez how many has this girl been drinking and you may be surprised when I say just one - an 'Almond milk latte with cinnamon on top please'. It would hardly be classified as a major addiction but I couldn't go a day without it - I felt flat and a headache would kick in around 11am which would become increasingly worse as the day went on. But then I also started to notice when I did have a coffee I would feel irritable if I had to sit around, I had to move and move at pace and I would often wake around 2pm and struggle to get back to sleep. As much as I wanted that coffee as I was beginning to despise the repercussions!
This is just MY personal experience so I want to look at some of the research out there and put it to you as one minute we hear 'Coffee is good for you', and the next you’re hearing it 'causes exhaustion, fatigue and addiction'.
About 80% of the world’s population uses caffeine on a daily basis, mostly in the form of coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate, but it is also in some drugs, ‘decaffeinated’ coffee and tea, and energy drinks1.
According to Harvard School of Public Health researchers involved in a 22-year study, the overall balance of risks and benefits of coffee consumption, are on the side of benefits. Another study from Finland shows that middle aged people who consumed moderate amounts of coffee or tea (3–5 cups per day), were 65% less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by the time they reached their mid-sixties to seventies, compared with those who drank little coffee or avoided it altogether. Other studies suggest that drinking coffee reduces the risk of being affected by Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus type 2, cirrhosis of the liver, and gout 1.
But not everyone agrees that coffee is beneficial, questions remain about what exactly is the cause behind its reported benefits. There's a lot of conflicting research around, so investigate into whether you are reading industry-funded or independently-funded research.
How much energy does that cup of coffee really give? So you would be 1 in a million if you didn't drink coffee to boost your energy levels and I'm also sure you know that the effect is only short lived. Did you know coffee actually burns up your energy reserves at a faster pace. It does this by making your adrenal gland secrete adrenaline when they don’t have much left, leaving you feeling more tired after the initial perk up of adrenaline pumping through your system.
Stephen Cherniske, a nutritional biochemist who wrote 'Caffeine Blues: Wake up to the hidden dangers of America's Number One drug' discusses how caffeine works its effects by prompting uncontrolled neuron firing in the brain 1.
5 minutes after drinking your morning coffee, this excess neuron activity prompts the pituitary gland to secrete a hormone, ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone) which tells your adrenal glands to produce adrenaline, the stress hormone responsible for ‘flight or fight’ reactions. Coffee also stimulates nor-adrenaline and reduces the calming neurotransmitter, serotonin 1. (So much for my moment of calm).
A dosage of 50 to 100 mg caffeine which is roughly the amount in one standard cup of coffee will make you brain feel more alert, but its done this by triggering a stress response and so your brain perceives a threat or imminent danger. Your muscles respond by tensing, your blood sugar increases for extra energy, and your pulse and respiration rates increase. Now run from that lion or should I say jobs to do list.
Detrimental Effects of Caffeine: In this day and age we have been exposed to caffeine from an early age through ingesting chocolate bars, cough syrups and soft drinks. So does it really have a negative impact? Caffeine lowers production of the hormone, DHEA, which is critical to the optimum functioning of your immune, cardiovascular, reproductive, and nervous system health. DHEA is an anti-aging hormone and coffee consumption interferes with that process 2. It may be milder in its effects, but caffeine manipulates the same neuro-chemical channels that amphetamine drugs work on 2.
"Caffeine is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when used appropriately. Caffeine is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth for a long time or in fairly high doses. Caffeine can cause insomnia, nervousness and restlessness, stomach irritation, nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate and respiration, and other side effects. Caffeine can make sleep disorders in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) worse. Larger doses might cause headache, anxiety, agitation, chest pain, and ringing in the ears"3.
Vitamin and Mineral Depletion
Caffeine is a diuretic, dehydrating the bodies tissues and blood vessels of your brain.
Coffee interferes with the absorption of supplemental iron due to the polyphenols present4.
Caffeine depletes the body of B vitamins, as well – which you need for proper brain and nervous system functioning and to convert food into energy. B1 is particularly affected, and can cause fatigue and nervousness 5.
Caffeine increases gastric emptying, which can prevent nutrients from being properly absorbed in the small intestine. This affects mineral such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc 5. You all know my passion for gut health - if you have any illness linked to the gut or digestive problems; coffee causes inflammation to an already sensitive system so I'd highly recommend giving up while you follow a gut healing protocol.
Coffee Effects your Blood Sugar levels
As you've already read caffeine prompts adrenaline to be pumped into the body and then the liver's responds by releasing the stored blood sugar. This gives you a temporary 'kick into gear' or mood boost. Insulin then responds and is released into the blood stream dropping blood sugars below normal. This can lead to increased hunger or sweet cravings later on 6.
Is the short-term boost at the expense of long-term jitters and tiredness. And this is not a 'hair of the dog situation' continuing to drink coffee or other caffeine containing beverages once the hit wears off will quickly put you in a state of chronic stress 5. How you metabolize coffee depends on the health state of your liver. In a healthy liver, caffeine is takes between 3 and 12 hours to detoxify a single cup of coffee 2.
Coffees affect on hormones
Are you a woman who experiences heavy periods, insomnia, PMS, anxiety and infertility. Chances are you have low progestrone (This is beyond the scoop of this blog). Very briefly though, progesterone and cortisol compete for the same receptors. If cortisol is high (which we know coffee increases) and blocks all the receptors progesterone binds too; you experience all the horrible side effects of low progesterone. Studies have linked caffeine to PMS symptoms 7.
Want some chemicals with that Flat White... The book ‘This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth?’ by Patrick Di Justo discusses how commercial coffees contain harmful chemicals. 'Over 1,000 chemicals have been reported in roasted coffee; more than half of those tested (19 out of 28) are carcinogenic' 8.
This means coffee is a seemingly easy way to increase your daily toxin consumption.
Best bet here is to ensure you buy Certified Organic Coffee or ask you local cafe to stock a organic option if they don't already.
So after all this information...
I gave up coffee. Maybe not forever, but I'll never go back to daily consumption. I've realized just how much better I am with patience levels, the deep restorative sleep I consistently get (thank you children for finally understanding bed is where you stay at night as well) and the irritable feeling after drinking it - like nothings happening fast enough is gone.
Not everyone reacts to foods or drinks the same - I've meet a few people who can take or leave their daily coffee and enjoy it for the taste more so than its stimulating effects. My gut feeling on drinking coffee is if you have one a day, in the morning and it's in a relaxing environment and you have no side effects from not having it, enjoy it 5.
If you live your life in the fast lane and are constantly thinking "I'm so stressed" coffee is not your best friend.
Finding out whether you are addicted to caffeine is easy but I'm sure you already know.
Give up all of your caffeine sources for a couple of days and see how you feel. Maybe warn those around you! Being tired, moody, and depressed with headaches and fatigue are the classic signs of caffeine deprivation 1.
If you want some tips on how to reduce these symptoms leave a comment or email me.
Leave me a comment if your game to give it a try and let me know how you get on...
1. Cherniske, Stephen 1998. Caffeine Blues: Wake up to the hidden dangers of America's
Number 1 drug
2. Lamberts, S.W., Van den Beld, A.W. and Van der Lely, A.J. 1997. The endocrinology of
aging. Science. , 278(5337):419-24.
3. Webmed www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-979-caffeine
4. Morck, T.A., Lynch, S.R. and Cook, J.D. 1983. Inhibition of food iron absorption by coffee.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 37(3):416-20.
5. Hill, P. 1991. It is not what you eat, but how you eat it digestion, life-style, nutrition.
7. Gottfried S (2013) The Hormone Cure p.135 New York
8. Di Justo, Patrick This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth