Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. In 2018/2019, around 165.35 million 60 kilogram bags of coffee were consumed worldwide, a slight increase from 158 million bags in the previous year.
We’ve been hearing how bad coffee is for our bodies and how we all need to cut back but in another hand we’ve been also hearing about the healthy benefits of drinking it.
So what should we do?
I’m a coffee lover. I’m obsessed with the ritual arround it and of course with the delicious aroma and flavour. I love the feeling that brings me holding my morning mug with my delicious cappuccino with almond milk, the pre-workout perk to get me through it or just as a working companion.
For years It’s been the first thing that I do in the morning, rolling out of bed at 6 or 7 a.m. straight to my warm mug of coffee.
But as so many people I often found myself stucked in a tailspin regarding whether or not it’s good for me.
But that was before I decided to limit coffee on a daily basis to help me see how it was impacting my overall well-being, sleep and mental clarity.
Well… Lately I’ve been having troubles falling asleep and waking up in the morning. I’ve been feeling general tiredness, soreness in my body, brain fog, anxious energy, craving carbs and needing stimulants like caffeine to get through the day and I thought that was caused but this long mental and emotional stress period that I’ve been in.
I never had before any problem with coffee but cutting caffeine is been a godsend.
I’m sleeping so much better, waking up feeling energized and without brain fog. I realised that my body is been fighting against a huge stress load which wasn’t supported by the amount of caffeine that I was supplementing with. The amount of caffeine was pumping into my body daily, coupled with high stress levels and a variety of other not that good habits, left my body in a perpetual state of fight.
Clarifying that caffeine tens to affect each individual differently and not everyone has the same stress levels and suffers of chronic stress. So it’s an individual issue.
So what has been happening in my body?
Adrenal fatigue and coffee
When we think of coffee, we usually think of its ability to provide an energy boost. Coffee contains caffeine and Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), heart, and muscles. It increases alertness and clear thinking. But It also contains other chemicals that might have other benefits like antioxidants and vitamins.
However, every time we consume caffeine, our adrenal glands secrete cortisol, the main stress hormone that signal our body to go into fight or flight mode.
This is our age old response system that tells our brain, ‘Yes, fight and catch that predator!’ or, ‘you are in danger, run away as fast as you can!
Every time we drink coffee, we’re putting our adrenals (and the rest of our body) through this plight. With consistent caffeine intake, we could be forcing your adrenal glands to overproduce cortisol.
In addiction, most of us take our first cup of coffee immediately after waking up but cortisol is secreted in a diurnal pattern, with a peak around the time of awakening.
Overproducing cortisol throws off its cycle of production and the natural cortisol concentrations in the body throughout the day. These elevated levels of cortisol can lead to adrenal fatigue. The term “adrenal fatigue” is not yet a diagnosable condition due to the absence of scientific proof to support adrenal fatigue as a true medical condition but the persistence of chronic cortisol levels found in patients shows that this issue is a problem well-recognized by those who practice holistic, functional, or integrative medicine medicine.
Some of the symptoms are sleep trouble, brain fog, irritability, focusing or memory issues and extreme cravings for carbs and salt. And in the worst cases can even lead to weight gain, anxiety, depression, sleep issues and problems with digestion.
So If we’re overworking our adrenals everyday by being under stress for at work, financial problems, sitting in traffic, arguing with our partner, plus we add on drinking coffee regularly, it can be very exhausting and our adrenals simply can’t handle that much stress, even if you’re the healthiest eater!
How I’m been cutting it
Quitting coffee when I’ve been relying on it for so long can really challenging. And for “dependent” people can me extremely difficult due to the withdrawal Symptoms that they may develop if they suddenly stop consuming it.
So these are the steps that I’ve been following to free myself from my coffee addiction and to give my body a breather and my cortisol levels a change to decrease.
1. I’ve found out why I’m drinking coffee. Is it because I’m tired, is it because helps to go to the toilet , is it simply a ritual/habit I feel hooked to it? Is it a social thing? Is it because I’m bored? This has helped me to find the true reason which I can then use to find a more sustainable solution to.
2. First I’ve been getting down to one cup coffee a day. Preferably a mid-morning cup of coffee instead of having it early morning as soon as I wake because that’s when usually our levels of cortisol are higher. But not after 2 p.m. so it give my body time to adjust to the artificial energy levels and help me sleep easier at night.
3. Then I’ve been cutting down to one or two a week and swapping it out for a natural source of caffeine. Like organic matcha, organic green tea, chai latter, golden milk, healthy cacao latte, or hot water with lemon, a natural energy-booster that won’t spike your cortisol levels.
Whether you choose to cut coffee out for good is up to you. But taking breaks or limiting it on a daily basis will help you see how it can impact your overall well-being, sleep and mental clarity. Because relying on it to get through the day is not sustainable and it’s probably covering up a more serious health issue.
*This article has informational purposes only, even if this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.