“Caffeine is clearly addictive, completely unregulated and it’s presence in our food and drinks is often hidden.” - Dr Jesse L. Hanley
For some specialists this beverage is a drug (albeit legal) and if you can’t do without it in order to last until the evening, you may be addicted.
We are all different with regards to our tolerance towards coffee and some of you have already felt that when you drink a cup of coffee, you don’t feel so well. You may get palpitations, nausea, nervousness, anxiety, waking up at night even if you rarely drink it.
For others, you may not realize that your many symptoms could be aggravated by coffee and that it may seriously be affecting your health.
If you drink a cup every now and then, only one cup a day or six is quite different.
There are thousands of scientific studies on the effect of caffeine. Stephen Cherniske author of Caffeine Blues writes, “not one concluded that caffeine is good for you”!
So what about the information that leads us to believe that coffee gives you energy, acts as an energy booster, improves mood and alertness? They are wrong in that there is a rebound effect after the consumption of coffee that induces the opposite effect of the one desired, namely fatigue, anxiety, depression and a reduction in mental acuity.
Coffee: stress in a cup?
How does caffeine work to give you energy? In the same way that a stressful event initiates the stress response in the body.
It’s the famous fight or flight response that prepares your body to get physically moving to either run away from a tiger or fight it.
Your heart beats faster, your lungs get ready to make oxygen more readily available, sugar is freed from it’s reserves to meet the demands of your muscles, circulation is redirected towards your muscles rather than towards your digestive system or your extremities.
The physical activity involved in the fight or flight reaction is good for all this physiological preparation. Today things are quite different and the physical outlet is not there anymore.
Your body has the exact same reaction as your ancestors, millions of years ago when they had to fight or flee an attacking lioness. Today, whether it’s coffee or your boss, you have no where to run if you are in a meeting with the board of directors.
You can’t vey well say: “Excuse me it’s too stressful in here. I am going for a run.” Although it would be the best thing to do.
When you add coffee to an already stressful life you can lose your cool, much sooner than you would without being under the spell of this beverage.
In other words, coffee can add stress to your life. Do you really need that in addition to your already very busy life?
Your liver and digestion
Coffee can also disrupt your digestion and cause gas, bloating and fermentation.
Caffeine needs to be detoxified by the liver before being eliminated from the body, only after it has been absorbed by all the tissues.
“Caffeine is rapidly absorbed by each organ and tissue in the body and diffuses in all the fluids including saliva, sperm, mother’s milk and amniotic fluid… It is only then that the liver begins it’s work of reducing this problematic toxin and it is not easy”, says Stephen Cherniske.
One reason why each person reacts differently to coffee is because we have different caffeine detoxifying capacities. There is also a genetic component in this.
In addition, unless the coffee is organic, it contains many other chemical products that need to be eliminated, like pesticides that are heavily sprayedon conventional coffee bushes.
Coffee and sleep
With 2 cups a day, even if you sleep, your deep sleep can be affected. It is during those periods of your sleep cycle that your body and psyche regenerate.
Research shows that whenever you drink coffee in the day, it can affect your quality of sleep, even if you drink your last cup before 3 in the afternoon.
Coffee and the brain
A common myth is to believe it can help cognitive function.
Popular belief is the opposite of scientific reality. The caffeine in only one cup can reduce memory and reasoning.
Stephen Cherniske also says that according to the research caffeine is associated with reduced academic performance and an increase in psychosomatic illnesses.
Coffee and women
A woman’s liver has more difficulty eliminating caffeine, making them more sensitive to coffee than men. During the premenstrual period of your cycle this process slows down even more and taking the pill does the same.
If you are menopausal, caffeine can lower estrogen, testosterone and DHEA levels and also affect your libido, your energy and your “joie de vivre”.
If you are thinking of having a baby (or know someone who is), take into account that caffeine is a risk factor for miscarriage, difficulty to conceive and can affect your baby’s health.
Coffee can contribute to muscle pain, inhibit calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc absorption and contribute to heart burn, cardiovascular disease, fibromyalgia, depression and anxiety.
When you go to the coffee shop to relax and have a break, you may be doing the opposite of what you think: stressing yourself even more. To relax and feel good, take a magnesium supplement instead because you may have depleted yourself of this “miracle mineral” with all those cups of coffee.
How to stop the habit
As with a lot of things in nutrition, coffee is a personal affair.
We all react differently to coffee, we eliminate caffeine more or less well and we are more or less addicted to it.
I very rarely drink coffee and when I do so for the pure pleasure of a delicious cup. It doesn’t make me feel too great and I have often noticed that it can affect the quality of my sleep. It can also make me feel nauseous.
Give it a try: stop coffee for a while and see how you feel.
It may be easier said than done, especially if you rely on coffee for your energy throughout the day. In this case ask yourself how you can increase you energy otherwise and naturally.
In the meantime, you can either stop cold turkey or gradually lower your consumption in a gentler way.
When you stop all at once you may experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches for a couple of days.
Another way to go is to replace part of your coffee with roasted chicory root or dandelion root (using an “old fashioned” filter or French press system). You increase the amount of chicory or dandelion root as you go along and end up with no more coffee.
The reason for the dandelion or chicory root (or a mix of both) is that they taste a bit like coffee. In addition they are excellent for your liver and can reduce withdrawal symptoms. That is one reason why the French used to drink half coffee and half roasted chicory root in their morning "café au lait": it is easier on the digestion.
You may also switch to green tea that contains some caffeine (much less than coffee) and also has L-theanine, a calming substance.
I recommend that my private clients either drastically reduce or completely exclude coffee from their habits, depending on their genetics and ability to detoxify it properly.
It may not be easy to tell how coffee affects your symptoms. The best way is to stop drinking it and observe how you feel (once the detox effects have worn off!).
And if you'd like to understand what effect caffeine may be having on your body - and which foods and drinks are the best for you - please click the box below to set up a conversation, and we can discuss the possibility of creating a highly tailored eating plan for you. Your life of Joie de Vivre could be just a phone call away...