If you had to give up coffee or the internet for 2 weeks, which one would you choose? On coffee and hormone health

If you had to give up coffee or the internet for 2 weeks, which one would you choose? How about coffee or sex for 2 weeks? Yeah…I bet I know the answer….and most people would say that.

Giving up gluten, dairy or sugar can feel like a breeze compared to giving up coffee.  I know that it’s the last thing my clients want to give up but it’s the first thing I ask them to…and here’s why….coffee can become an addiction and one that can do a serious number on your hormones.

Often when I ask people to give up coffee for a few weeks they immediately say, “I could never!”  But  when I ask them why, it rarely has to do with what coffee is or how it tastes…it has to do with how it makes them feel – physically and emotionally.  There’s a ritual in coffee, a comfort really.  It’s a quick fix for a need we have – more energy, some coziness, some connectedness.

When I met with my dear friend, Magdalena last weekend, we dove deep into this topic and she offered to share another info packed article (and a RECIPE!) with us today on the benefits and pitfalls of your coffee habit.

Enjoy! xx Jen


 Coffee Addiction and Your Hormones by Magdalena Wszelaki

Black magic.   Black medicine.   Morning elixir.

If you’re like me, you’ve seen seemingly hundreds of conflicting articles on coffee – one celebrates coffee as in prevention of cancer, diabetes, depression, cirrhosis of the liver, gallstones, etc. and the next talks about how it will destroy. your. life. 

But is coffee bad for EVERYBODY?

Not really.

Each one of us can have a different reaction to coffee. Some people get jittery while others feel uplifted for hours. Many people report that they certainly feel good for the first two hours (mainly due to a dopamine hit) but then their energy and mental alertness starts dropping.

So what’s the problem with coffee then?  If you are suffering from thyroid issues, Hashimoto’s, adrenal fatigue insomnia, anxiety, hot flashes and hormone-related conditions, it’s important to be fully aware of the “other side of coffee” and then make an educated decision if it is for you.Coffee gets metabolized in Phase I of liver detoxification pathway and some people have a harder time to break it down – we call them “slow metabolizers.” This can manifest immediately by feeling shaky and jittery or in a delayed fashion – such as poor sleep and digestive issues.Here are some of the less known facts about coffee that could be affecting you:

1. Increases blood sugar levels

According to this study, caffeine increases blood sugar levels. This is especially dangerous for people with hypoglycemia (or low sugar levels) who feel jittery, shaky, moody and unfocused when hungry.  Blood sugar fluctuations cause cortisol spikes which not only exhaust the adrenals but also deregulates the immune system. This is highly undesirable for those of us with adrenal fatigue, Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease. Such cortisol spike is also highly inflammatory (read more below).

2. Creates sugar and carbohydrate cravings

As the results of the above (increase in sugar levels), when our blood sugar levels come down, we need an emergency fix to bring them back up. This is how people who drink coffee at breakfast or have sugary and processed breakfasts, crave carbs and sugar by 11am or later in the day.

3. Contributes to acid reflux and damages gut lining

Coffee stimulates the release of gastrin, the main gastric hormone which speeds up intestinal transit time. Coffee can also stimulate the release of bile (which is why some people run to the bathroom after coffee) and digestive enzymes.

In a person with a healthy digestion, this is not a big deal. However, for people with autoimmune conditions, compromised digestion (like IBS, “leaky gut”), this can cause further digestive damage to the intestinal lining (source).

4. Exhausts the adrenals

Coffee stimulates the adrenals to release more cortisol, our stress hormone, this is partly why we experience a wonderful but temporary and unsustained burst of energy.

What many of us don’t realize that our tired adrenals are often the cause of unexplained weight gain, sleeping problems, feeling emotionally fragile, depressed and fatigued. Drinking coffee when experiencing adrenal fatigue is like adding fuel to the fire.

5. Worsens PMS and lumpy breasts

It’s well established that coffee contributes to estrogen dominance (source), which can mean two things: we either have too much estrogen as compared to progesterone or we have an imbalance in the estrogen metabolites (some are protective and some are dangerous).

PMS, lumpy breasts, heavy periods, cellulite and even breast cancer (which is an estrogenic cancer) can be symptoms of estrogen dominance.

6. Gluten-cross reactive food

50% of people with gluten sensitivities also have cross reactivity with other foods including casein in milk products, corn, coffee, and almost all grains because their protein structure is similar. Cyrex Labs provides a test for gluten cross-reactive foods.

Many people report to having a similar reaction to coffee as they do to gluten.

7. Impacts the conversion of T4 to T3 hormone

Coffee impacts the absorption of levothyroxine (synthetic thyroid hormone), this is why thyroid patients need to take the hormone replacement pill an hour away from coffee.

The indirect but important point is that coffee contributes to estrogen dominance cited above and estrogen dominance inhibits T4 to T3 conversion.

8. Can cause miscarriages

This study showed that women who drink coffee during their pregnancy are at a higher risk of miscarriages.

9. Is highly inflammatory

Any functional or integrative doctor would say that majority of modern diseases are caused by inflammation; a smoldering and invisible fire found on a cellular level.

This study found that caffeine is a significant contributor to oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Chronic body pains and aches, fatigue, skin problems, diabetes and autoimmune conditions are just some of the conditions related to inflammation.

10. Can contribute and even cause osteoporosis

It is well known that coffee changes our body pH to more acidic and a low pH (which means more acidic body) can contribute to osteoporosis.

This study has confirmed that habitual coffee drinking among postmenopausal women was the leading cause of osteoporosis.

11. Can cause insomnia and poor sleep

This study showed that 400mg of “caffeine taken 6 hours before bedtime has important disruptive [sleep] effects.”

This, again, is dependent on the person and her ability to metabolize caffeine. Some people experience deep and restful sleep even if they drink coffee and others do not, even if they stop drinking anything caffeinated at noon.

How sensitive are you and how does coffee impact your sleep? You will only know if you give up caffeinated drinks for 5 days and then your body will tell you!

What about decaf?

It’s a disputed area but many health practitioners don’t like it for two reasons. For one, many companies use a chemical process to remove caffeine from the beans. We end up with less caffeine but more chemicals. Secondly, it is the caffeine in the coffee that has the health benefits we talked about above. Without it you are left with little benefit.

The change we resist the most is often the change we need the most

Many people who have made many changes will admit that coffee was the last and the hardest thing to eliminate from their diet. Coffee is our ritual, it’s our best friend.

But is it really? It is often said that the change we resist the most is the change our body needs the most. Let your intuition be your guide.  

Bottom line

You will only know how you really feel without coffee (please don’t say it does not impact you until you try it) when you get off it for 3 to 5 days. The first 2 days will be tough and that tells you something about this addictive substance, does it not?

Many women who have given up coffee and caffeine report better sleep within days, less hot flashes, less depression and anxiety and many more other benefits over time.

What are some substitute options?

If you feel like you still need a slight kick, go for less caffeinated options such as the green tea. Use the below infographic to guide you.

Once you are ready to completely get off caffeine, herbal teas are a wonderful replacement. One of my personal favorites is a Roasted Chicory Latte – it taste like coffee but it contains no caffeine. Making it into a smooth and creamy (yet dairy-free) latte makes the transition so much easier.

The Chicory Latte recipe (below) and other recipes are available as bonus material at the free online workshop “How to Use Food to Rebalance Your Hormones” on April 11th.  I hope to see you there!  For now, enjoy this luxurious morning treat.

 

Medical references:


 

ROASTED CHICORY ROOT LATTE

Time to prepare: 15 minutes

Time to steep: 10minutes.

Serves: 1

Equipment: blender

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp roasted chicory root
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tbsp ghee, coconut butter or butter (if tolerated)
  • 1 pitted date
  • fresh nutmeg (nut or powder)

How to make:

1. Bring water to boil, add chicory root and steep for 10 minutes.

2. Strain and transfer to a blender.

3. Add the ghee (or any fat you decide to use) and the date. Blend for 1 minute at high speed.

4. Grate some fresh nutmeg and enjoy.

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