We’re on a coffee break

Teas

Nine reasons to have a conscious relationship with coffee

You couldn’t have a conversation about caffeine without referring to the topic of adrenals. The adrenal glands are endocrine (hormone) glands that sit atop the kidneys. They are chiefly responsible for regulating the stress response through the synthesis of steroid and other hormones, including cortisol (the steroid hormone released in response to stress and a low level of blood glucose) and adrenaline (the flight or fight hormone, released immediately a stressful situation is presented).

When the adrenals are tired (overworked due to ongoing stressors), the body will experience a number of different symptoms. The most common symptoms caused by tired or worn-out adrenal glands are:

  • Tired but wired feeling, poor sleep
  • Cravings for sweets and processed carbohydrates, intolerance to alcohol
  • Premature aging
  • Dry, unhealthy skin with excess pigmentation
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle twitches
  • Low blood sugar
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sensitivity to light, or difficulty seeing at night
  • A craving for salt
  • Low stamina for stress, and easily irritated
  • Chronic infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, yeast)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Light-headedness on standing up
  • Lack of libido
  • Cystic breasts
  • Tendency to startle easily
  • Excessive perspiration from little activity
  • Lower back pain and / or knee weakness or pain, especially on the side

It’s a long list but any ring true for you? Being tired, worn-out and lacking energy has been one of the most prevalent yet rarely diagnosed conditions for the last fifty years.

If you do feel you suffer from adrenal fatigue you should know that you will need to take responsibility for yourself and do most of the work to achieve a recovery – upgrading your lifestyle and food choices are the key contributors to success.

Broadly, the best ways to support your adrenal glands are:

  1. Sleep – making it a priority.
  2. Eliminate processed (simple) carbohydrates and sugar.
  3. Eat clean animal protein foods (organic and grass fed), organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, beans and grains.
  4. Quit the coffee habit and drink plenty of fresh, filtered water every day.

A few weeks ago I started to physically notice an uneasiness in my mind and a heightened sense of anxiety. Thinking over what was different about my environment, food and lifestyle choices, it was the coffee intake that was the most obvious and ongoing change. Ever since enjoying coffee on my trip to New York I have found myself craving them now that I’m home. Some of you may laugh to hear that I’d only be having 3 or 4 per week, but it was enough to really affect me. And even though I enjoyed the social sense of drinking a coffee and the comfort of this warm, frothy drink, I decided that it was time to go on a break, to see if that helped me manage my anxiety.

So it turns out that for me, coffee is a big stressor. Taking it out of my routine has made a huge difference.

I know from my work with people on the Vitality Cleanse that quitting coffee can be a challenge so these would be my suggestions:

  1. Indulge and buy a few varieties of tea to have on hand at home. Dandelion and Rooibos are popular coffee alternatives.
  2. Consider your alternative choice for social occasions, so you don’t have to even think about your choices when you arrive at the coffee shop! Or – better yet – go for a walk with friends, rather than meeting at a coffee shop.
  3. Drink plenty of filtered water… I mean, fill yourself up on the stuff!
  4. Enjoy a green smoothie – the world is awash with green smoothie recipes and I have collected a few drinks recipes that I like here.

The reality is that caffeine is a highly acidic substance that stimulates the metabolic rate. Caffeine is the reason many are addicted to coffee. Unfortunately, caffeine makes your own natural stimulants (the thyroid and adrenal glands) lazy, eventually causing your metabolism to be sluggish. These are 9 reasons why you should be conscious about your coffee choices:

1. Cardiovascular Problems

Caffeine increases heart rate, elevates blood pressure and can contribute to the development of heart disease.

2. Stress

Caffeine stimulates the excretion of stress hormones, which can produce increased levels of anxiety, irritability, muscular tension and pain, indigestion, insomnia and decreased immunity.

3. Emotional Disturbances

Anxiety and irritability are hallmark mood disturbances associated with caffeine consumption, but equally important are depression and attention disorders. Depression may occur as part of the letdown after the stimulant effects of caffeine wear off. It may also appear during the recovery period after quitting caffeine while the brain’s chemistry is readjusted. Rather than increasing mental activity, caffeine actually decreases blood flow to the brain by as much as 30% and negatively affects memory and mental performance.

4. Blood Sugar Swings

Diabetics and hypoglycemics should avoid caffeine. Caffeine stimulates a temporary surge in blood sugar followed by an overproduction of insulin, which causes a blood sugar crash within hours. This rollercoaster causes weight gain since insulin’s message to the body is to store excess sugar as fat.

5. Gastrointestinal Problems

Many people experience a burning sensation in their stomach after drinking coffee because coffee increases the secretion of hydrochloric acid, which leads to an increased risk for ulcers. Coffee, including decaf, reduces pressure on the valve between the esophagus and the stomach so that the highly acidic contents of the stomach pass up to the esophagus, which can lead to heartburn and gastro-esophageal reflux disease.

6. Nutritional Deficiencies

Caffeine inhibits the absorption of some nutrients and causes the urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and trace minerals.

7. Female Health Problems

Fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, osteoporosis, infertility problems, miscarriage, low birth weight and menopausal problems such as hot flashes are all exacerbated by caffeine consumption.

8. Aging

Caffeine dehydrates the body and contributes to aging of the skin and kidneys. It has been shown to inhibit DNA repair and slow the ability of the liver to detoxify foreign toxins.

9. Adrenal Fatigue

Caffeine consumption leads to eventual adrenal exhaustion, which can leave you vulnerable to a variety of health disorders related to inflammation and fatigue.

What’s your coffee story? Have you stopped to consider how it really makes you feel? I’d love to hear any ideas you have on weaning yourself from coffee and keeping it out of your habits. Comment below!

These notes on the quirks of caffeine have been adapted from Caffeine Blues: Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of America’s #1 Drug by Stephen Cherniske and thanks to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition for their information on adrenal fatigue.

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2 Responses to “We’re on a coffee break”

  1. Mags December 24, 2014 at 5:11 am #37828

    This is SO timely for me!! Thank you. Mx

    • Anita Fredericks December 24, 2014 at 6:30 am #37839

      I’m so glad the little prompt is timely – let me know how your experiment goes! Good luck M x

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