Is Your Coffee Helping or Hurting you?
Coffee: the magical, supercharged beverage that supposedly gives us superpowers first thing in the morning. True, right? Well, not for everyone! Coffee could almost be considered a hormone therapy because it has a large effect on the hormones that give us energy and heighten our attention and focus. I'm sure you've noticed that once you
start to sip on your coffee you begin to notice subtle increase in heart beat, eyes widening, mood and energy rising until finally you are about ready to jump out of your chair and really start to tackle the day ahead. Sounds great, right? So what exactly is happening for us to feel this way? The secret is all in the caffeine and cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that is secreted by our adrenal glands and is stimulated by the high amount of caffeine in coffee. The adrenal glads are these tiny little glands that work to produce hormones that regulate our energy levels. They sit right on top of our kidneys and will produce cortisol and aldosterone. The rise in cortisol is what we feel when we sip coffee. That is the hormone that is responsible for helping us wake up in the morning and our body will naturally product it when sunlight naturally enters our eyes in the morning. Our body knows how to naturally produce it so we don't need to rely on coffee for its production. However, the reason most people love coffee is because it puts our cortisol into overdrive and pretty much turns us into superhumans by being able to do more than our body was planning to. In the stone age, cavemen didn't need coffee because their cortisol levels were only spiked when they had to outrun a predator in times of danger from their body being entered into a fight or flight mode. However, these days, we are constantly trying to remain in fight or flight mode in order to get more done. Doing more isn't the key to maintaining optimal health because we will eventually burn ourselves out. When people start to enter their burn out phase, they will begin experiencing anxiety, fear, worry, weight gain, insomnia, depression, inflammation, stress, poor mood and so much more. This is the result of a major hormone imbalance and in this case, the main goal would be to balance cortisol levels in the body to bring the body back into homeostasis.
Coffee should be avoided, or limited, by people who have a hormone imbalance or are looking to balance their hormones. Imbalanced hormones can cause a variety of disease and illnesses such as anxiety, depression, infertility, amenorrhea, insomnia, acne, weight gain, bloating and poor digestion. Our body is all interconnected so when one thing is out of balance, it will effect other processes in the body so we need to be mindful of what our body needs to be brought back into balance. When our body is in a prolonged fight or flight response, it will put all other functions on hold to "out run the predator" or in modern day to "get the job done before the deadline". So our digestion will suffer, our menstruation will suffer, our fat burn will suffer and our feeling of calm and relaxation will diminish because those all take a back seat when cortisol is swimming through our veins. If you feel like one of these is out of balance for you, eliminating or decreasing your coffee intake might be something to consider! I know, its not easy...at all, especially if you live for the taste of coffee and the kick it provides to get things done. I hear you. I was a 2-3 cup of coffee per day person before I quit. However, it is possible to decrease coffee intake and to find tasty alternatives with much less caffeine that won't impact our cortisol as much and keep us more balanced.
Here are my top tips for quitting coffee (or decreasing intake)
Prep yourself - coffee is addicting and our body will start to rely on it for the caffeine intake every day if we have used coffee for a long time. So, the caffeine withdrawals are a real thing and are usually not too fun. Some people can experience extreme headaches, brain fog, fatigue and moodiness for the first few days. Yes, it can last for a few days! Remember, if you have been using coffee for several years, it will take your body a day or two to adjust to the lack of caffeine. I would recommend to being your coffee weaning during a time away from work such as on a weekend so that way you can sit through the worst without being bothered by others!
Drink TONS of water - as you start to wear off of caffeine from coffee, your body will be going through a caffeine detox so to assist your body in speeding up this detox process, make sure to stay hydrated and drink lots of water to flush toxins out and move the process along steadily. Water will flush out toxins that might be accumulating from an rapid change in our intake. Our body is trying to figure out what is going on so the best thing we can do for it is to support it by staying hydrated and moving things along.
Try Tea - By switching from coffee to tea, you will naturally be lowering your caffeine intake almost by half, depending on the tea. Green tea and some black teas are still very high in caffeine content but herbal teas will be the lowest in caffeine. Even the higher caffeinated teas are still lower in caffeine than coffee so it would be a good place to start! One cup of coffee has 125-150 mg caffeine where as 1 cup of matcha green tea has 60-80 mg caffeine. Herbal teas have anywhere from 0-15 mg of caffeine.
Herbal "Coffee" - Herbal coffee substitutes have become increasingly popular with more and more people switching away from regular coffee for various reasons. There are a few great brands that have created coffee substitutes from blended herbs and mushrooms to help soothe the adrenal glands all while making it taste just like coffee! One brand is called Four Sigmatic and they make their coffee with a blend of mushrooms that help to calm and nourish the adrenals. They use clean and organic ingredients that work for bringing our body into balance. Another brand I personally love is called Rasa Koffee and they use a blend of adaptogenic herbs to mimic the flavor of coffee without the caffeine! My favorite flavor of Rasa Koffee is their Luxurious Cacao flavor that only have 5 mg caffeine per cup!
Be Patient - A hormonal imbalance takes a long time to heal and could potentially take a few years to fully bring the body back into balance so be prepared to practice patience! Over time, you will notice that you will become more sensitive to caffeine and will notice that the same amount of caffeine that you used to have could trigger heightened anxiety if you drink it again too soon! So be patient and be cautious to keep caffeine at bay to let your body fully heal. After a few weeks, you will begin to notice that you don't need that morning cup of coffee to get you out of bed in the morning! Just make sure you get some nice, bright sunlight in your room in the morning when you first wake up to let your body know its time to go.
If you have read through this and are still a little skeptical/worried about giving up your coffee, have no fear! Again, not everyone has to give up coffee to reach optimal health! Coffee is a natural antioxidant and has health benefits but if it over used and abused, it can cause an imbalance. In the meantime, I'll be over here sipping on my Cacao Rasa Koffee because I just can't get enough of it!! I hope you find this information helpful. Please don't hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions regarding this post or your own personal health!
Have a great day my friends!
In good health,