Updated: Aug 5, 2020
Even one cup a day can affect you in a way that you don't realise.
Let’s talk Coffee
Back when the coffee bean was first discovered, it was used to stimulate alertness and wakefulness. Monks used it so they could stay awake all night praying.
Coffee (caffeine) binds to the Adenosine receptors to block sleep chemicals, which stops the sleepiness at night and probably affects many people’s sleeping patterns unwittingly, as it could be that morning coffee that is keeping them at night! It also stimulates the nervous system and the stress response. It increases adrenalin and cortisol which can make you anxious, even shaky with palpitations, making you feel like your heart is beating fast and loudly when lying in bed at night. By increasing the stress hormones, it can cause imbalance throughout the whole of the endocrine (hormonal glands) system. The more you drink, the longer you have been consuming coffee the more unconscious you are of the effects.
Caffeine also stimulates the secretion of cholesterol and glucose therefore increasing these substances in the blood. Healthy balanced blood sugar is vital for energy, hormonal health and even mental health. Even one cup of coffee a day can cause a dip in energy later in the day, and still have a stimulating effect, so tired but not sleepy. It can also make you feel strung out in a similar way that drugs can, in fact caffeine is a drug, one that you need to consume more of to have the desired effect of a stimulant.
There are some health benefits as coffee contains polyphenols, the antioxidants that protect against tissue damage, it can also help to stimulate the liver’s production of bile and get sluggish bowls moving, however the best way to use coffee for a detox is as an enema!
Many studies have been done on coffee’s ability to help concentration, but this is a myth, you are far better to use B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Essential fatty acids and take some herbal therapies to aid concentration. Ultimately there is nothing like sleep, good diet, exercise and adequate relaxation.
Coffee first became available to many people in the UK in the 17th century when ‘Coffee Houses’ were created. Unlike the cafes we know today, these were places much like bars and pubs where people came to drink the stimulant containing coffee and be entertained with music and comedy. They would have a coffee hangover the next day, tiredness, depression, sluggishness, they would either recover or go back for more. Nowadays it has been so normalised that over 70 million cups of coffee are bought a day in the UK alone, that’s not even drinking at home. It MUST be having a mental health effect no matter what the growers, manufactures and all those that benefit from mass sales say. It’s the second biggest traded product after petroleum.
If you are a coffee drinker, could it be worth reducing your coffee intake to see how it is affecting you without your being conscious of it?
Great drinks that can replace coffee and are health supportive:
Chicory Cup - naturally bitter but smooth, tastes great with alternative milks too. Chicory is liver and microbiome supportive. I love this
Barley cup - naturally bitter, works well with alternative milks
Turmeric and honey latte - with alternative milks
Cinnamon and blueberry latte - blended like a smoothie with oat, rice, hemp or pea protein milk then heated gently - try it with organic maple syrup
Thyme and orange latte - blend orange zest and fresh thyme, heat and add a little honey
Earl grey tea - my fave
Case study 1. SB
25 year old female Graphic Designer. Very fit, exercises 5- 6 times per week, swim training, fitness classes and Yoga. Diagnosed (Labelled) with IBS.
Other health issues: Migraine, hormonal imbalance, digestive issues.
Instructed by a gastroenterologist to do a complete elimination diet to find out which foods were causing the reactions of bloating, pain and constipation.
SB went from drinking 2-5 cups of coffee a day to nothing but water and a very limited number of foods. Within half a day she experienced severe caffeine withdrawal symptoms which would have been exacerbated by sugar and refined carbohydrate removal.
The symptoms of her withdrawal were severe headache, vomiting, utter fatigue, panic attacks, fever, feelings of derealisation. At the time she did not understand how to do a caffeine withdrawal safely, that she should have weaned herself off over a period of time, used detoxification support, targeted supplements and supported blood sugar. Consequently, she could only do 4 days and then had to go back to drinking her normal coffee amounts to enable her to cope with making major dietary changes.
Taking a more natural (and realistic) approach she gradually reduced refined carbs, coffee, sugar, dairy and other grains, using supportive nutrients like Vitamin C, B Vitamins, Chromium, zinc, digestive enzymes and probiotics. She increased her water intake and reviewed her fibre intake.
Over time she was able to completely remove coffee but keep some caffeine in weak black tea and dark chocolate. Her health issues improved hugely, fatigue disappeared, and her vitality increased.
Case study 2. KB
Female nurse working 6 days per week, generally eats a good diet, exercise 4-5 times per week. She was drinking 3-7 times per day for many years, to keep her ‘energy’ levels up as she
did her nursing rounds. KB suffers from depression, anxiety, digestive issues and
previously with weight gain.
She decided to do a liver and digestive cleanse which included cutting out coffee. Just 3 hours into being coffee free, a headache began, even when drinking plenty of water, reaching 4 hours she was vomiting and felt the most unwell she has ever felt in her life. She stopped the cleanse and consumed a strong coffee, this immediately made her feel better. This whole experience shocked KB into changing her reliance (addiction even) to coffee. She gradually weaned herself off by cutting down on the amount of cups per day over time, then by reducing the amount of coffee she added to her cup until eventually she could get by on drinking weak black tea, green tea. She now has replaced the coffee ritual with Chicory drinks. Her fatigue has lessened, and she feel much less anxious, she sleeps better and generally feels more alert.