Coffee has a cult following worldwide, photos of lattes fill Instagram everyВ Sunday morning, and coffee dates are the basis of most friendly catch-ups вЂ”В but it is time to get real about the effect caffeine has on your health.В
Many clients sit down and tell me that they absolutely can not get out of theВ door in the morning unless they have had a coffee, or that there is no way thatВ they can stay awake in their mid-morning meeting unless they have had theirВ daily triple shot. Then there are others that tell me they don’t drink any coffeeВ but have two diet energy drinks and a bar of dark chocolate each day, they tellВ me that because itвЂ™s a diet drink or dark chocolate it must be healthy, right?
Too many people are surviving on caffeine, rather than thriving with out it.В Caffeine is a stimulant, it is found in coffee, energy drinks, tea, soft drinks andВ chocolate, it is the most commonly used drug in the world.В One of the main concerns of consuming coffee regularly is the effect it has onВ sleep. Caffeine binds to the adenosine receptors in the brain, this preventsВ adenosine from causing the chemical cascade that tells the brain to initiateВ sleep or rest. It takes the body 5-6 hours to process caffeine and excrete itВ from the body; however, trans-fats, the contraceptive pill, medication, andВ poor liver healthy can increase this clearance time вЂ” extending the timeВ caffeine circulates int he blood stream for.
When caffeine is present in the blood stream it is nearly impossible for theВ brain to produce melatonin – our sleep hormone. The consumption ofВ caffeinated products is one of the main reasons people struggle to fall asleepВ early enough to get enough sleep before they have to wake up again. If aВ person is having a morning coffee, a mid-afternoon coffee, and then someВ dark chocolate after dinner, they are topping up the caffeine in their body every few hours вЂ” this means that come bed time their blood caffeine level will stillВ be too high, making sleep difficult.
Try removing caffeine for 4 weeks and notice the difference it makes to yourВ ability to fall asleep and quality of sleep, it may surprise you.В The blocking of adenosine receptors in the brain also causes the brain toВ become вЂexcitedвЂ™. This results in a jittery, anxious feeling in people. SomeВ people experience a feeling of not being able to get their breath past their В heart. For a lot of people simply removing caffeine resolves this problem.
Caffeine also causes the release of adrenaline, which is our вЂfight or flightвЂ™В hormone, it is produced when the body believes we are in danger. AdrenalineВ causes glucose to be released from the muscles and into the bloodstream, which triggers the production of insulin вЂ” one of our main fat storageВ hormones. Frequent caffeine induced insulin В production is a concern forВ anyone who has weight and/or blood sugar control issues.В
Caffeine also triggers the release of В cortisol. Cortisol is produced by theВ adrenal glands, it is labeled the вЂstress hormone.вЂ™ Cortisol levels naturallyВ increases at different times of the day, for example вЂ” in the morning levelsВ increase to help us wake up. Cortisol also increases when the body is underВ stress or experiencing a stressful event. This is a protective mechanism by heВ body to help it handle the stress. However, caffeine and our busy lifestylesВ increase cortisol levels unnaturally. Long-term elevated stress levels can leadВ to weight gain, diabetes, digestive issues, and poor immune function. IfВ cortisol is high for too long it can eventually lead to adrenal fatigue, or what isВ known as вЂburnoutвЂ™.
If you are struggling to function without having a coffee this is a sign that yourВ adrenal glands might not be producing enough cortisol themselves, soВ removing stimulants from your diet and looking into getting some help from aВ qualified practitioner would be advised.В
Caffeine needs to be detoxified by the liver, however, the liver is also busy detoxifying many other substances. Caffeine, trans fats, alcohol, nicotine, food additives, and pesticides all need to be processed by the liver and are oftenВ prioritised over the hormones and cholesterol that the liver also needs toВ detoxify. When this happens unhealthy levels of hormones or cholesterol canВ build up in the blood. An overloaded liver almost always plays a part in highВ cholesterol levels and sex hormone-related problems such as; hormonalВ acne, painful periods, PMS, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Caffeine also reduces the absorption of iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc,В potassium, and some B vitamins. While this isn’t a big problem if you onlyВ consume caffeine every so often, it is a problem if you have a daily coffeeВ habit. Iron deficiency affects energy levels and healing while long-termВ calcium and potassium malabsorption leads to thinning and easily fracturedВ bones. Low magnesium is responsible for poor muscle function and recoveryВ вЂ” often you will notice cramps if this is a problem. If you consume caffeineВ make sure to take any supplements and hour away from the caffeine.
If you are suffering from hormonal issues, poor sleep, anxiety or fatigue it isВ time to consider the amount of caffeine in your diet. Try removing caffeine forВ 4 weeks and see how this makes a difference to your health. Coffee and blackВ tea can be replaced with herbal tea, green juice, or water flavoured with mint,В berries or cinnamon, and ensure that cacao or chocolate is consumed early inВ the day in small amounts.
Author:В Jessica Giljam Brown