Do You Need To Quit Coffee To Save Your Hormones?
It's the simple things in life....
Waking up at the weekend, pouring yourself a steaming cup of coffee and chilling in your PJ's watching Sunday Brunch on the TV.
Maybe its the routine stop off at Starbucks every morning while you're still half asleep, or frantically rushing for the train after having your first caffeine hit of the day?
No one can dare approach you until you've downed your grande soy latte with hazelnut syrup
Any of these sound familiar?
It seems like every other week newspapers and media articles are discussing coffee. One week it's cancer in a cup, the next its the 'holy grail' that can cure 27 diseases if you consume 3.8 cups a day!
Ok, maybe that's a little over exaggeration, but you know what I mean......
Let me start off by saying that the coffee most people have these days is nothing like how it has been traditionally consumed.
Known as 'liquefied desserts' by one of my old lecturers, most coffee in the Western world is accompanied by syrup shots, sachets of refined sugar, whipped cream, sweeteners, additional caffeine shots and maybe a blueberry muffin (or two! )
Being one of the most popular drinks, consumed on a daily basis, coffee has the potential ability to either improve or harm your health.
One of my main concerns is that coffee beans are one of the most sprayed, pesticide laden crops out there, so you should always choose organic when possible. They are also prone to mould contamination so I recommend checking the company tests for this. Investing in high quality coffee is especially important if you are already suffering with poor health and conditions such as auto-immunity, hormonal imbalances, gut issues, poor detoxification and inflammation.
This raises the question, should we be consuming coffee or not?
After drinking coffee, our bodies release stress hormones, mainly cortisol and epinephrine.
This is the reason that some of us can feel energised and invigorated while the others feel jittery and experience heart palpitations.
It's totally individual how you metabolise and tolerate caffeine and its based on many factors including stress tolerance, age, gender, genetics, weight and overall health levels.
For people prone to anxiety, sleep-related problems/insomnia, adrenal imbalances, heart problems and palpitations, the coffee may need to go (at least until you work on fixing the root causes of these conditions)!
Caffeine has a half life of 5-6 hours (in the average person) meaning it can take 12 hours to completely leave your system! This can be even longer in those (including myself ) who have a slow caffeine metabolism SNP- (CYP1A2 for all the geeks reading)
Our hormones, (especially as females ), are very sensitive to stress.
Consuming caffeine on an empty stomach first thing in the morning can be very detrimental to women who are suffering with imbalanced hormones and conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis, PMS, amenorrhea, heavy bleeding, excess androgens, menstrual cramps etc.
This is partly caused by stress hormones produced by the adrenal glands interfering with our own sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, throwing them out of balance.
In PCOS specifically, this stress response, along with insulin dysregulation, are two of the biggest factors contributing to those pesky symptoms such as acne, weight gain, hirsutism and hair thinning, due to elevation of androgen and testosterone levels from the ovaries and/or adrenal glands. Another factor that affects hormones is not just the coffee, but the 'extras' that often come alongside. Artificial sweeteners and syrups, & potentially poor quality dairy (if you're sensitive ) may also be affecting hormonal conditions such and PCOS and PMS.
It's also important you're not using your daily cuppa as a 'band aid' for your general low energy state. The real reason you're so tired isn't a caffeine deficiency, its likely one or more of the following causes - low thyroid/adrenal function, mineral imbalances, chronic inflammation, poor gut heath, high stress etc.
Men, on the other hand, tend to handle caffeine a little better and are more tolerant of the 'Bulletproof Coffee/Fasted workout' combo.
This is because their hormones are less 'sensitive' and maybe due to a better metabolism of caffeine (similar to alcohol ).
However, if they deal with any of the conditions I mentioned above, especially adrenal/gut/immune related issues, I would recommend going caffeine free for a period of time.
I recommend everyone tries going CAFFEINE FREE for a month, just to see what happens.
Eliminate caffeine from all sources, (energy drinks, coffee, pre-workout powders, green tea ) from your diet for 30 days! Monitor your symptoms, then reintroduce (if you want to! ) and see how you feel. You may not even feel like bringing it back into your routine
If you are currently having several cups per day or describe yourself as a 'coffee addict', I recommend that you cut back slowly as you can experience a withdrawal reaction if you go cold turkey.
If you don't notice any benefits & feel great after reintroduction, GREAT, I'm genuinely happy for you!
Of course I'm not going to just leave you without any tasty caffeine free alternatives...
- Dandelion root 'coffee' is very nutritious and tastes similar to the real thing! Enjoy on its own or with unsweetened milk (dairy free or regular).
- Golden milk made with coconut/almond milk is a warm, comforting drink, using spices such as cinnamon, turmeric and ginger.
- Liquorice tea can help boost your energy when your feeling fatigued, as it helps to keep cortisol around in the body longer! Pukka Herbs do a lovely tea blend with peppermint .
(Note- Use with caution if you have elevated cortisol levels or high blood pressure.)
After the 30 days you could try green tea as a less stimulating caffeine source. It's one of the richest sources of antioxidants you can get!
Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) is a powerful polyphenol that has many health benefits such as improving longevity, helps prevent certain types of cancer and boosts insulin sensitivity. You can get a nice calm buzz without feeling wired due to the calming, 'anti-anxiety' amino acid L-Theanine, which is found exclusively in tea.
Then if you CAN tolerate caffeine, my top recommendation would be ORGANO KING COFFEE as this is organic/mold free coffee infused with reishi mushroom spores. Similar to green tea, you'll get the caffeine energy boost, but with a more. calming energy as reishi is an adaptogen adrenal supporting mushroom. Reishi or 'Ganoderma' has been shown to benefit MANY health conditions including autoimmunity (due to its immuno-modulating effects), insulin resistance/blood sugar instability, chronic skin conditions like acne/eczema & mental health issues. There are over 3,000 published studies showing its benefits.
If you are sensitive to supplements/caffeine then I recommend starting with 1/4-1/2 of a sachet then increasing, but a lot of highly sensitive to caffeine clients can tolerate it just fine! Try having it around 30 mins after breakfast, rather than later in the day on an empty stomach.
Get my favourite KING COFFEE here...
If you are healthy overall, and aren't dealing with things such as major hormonal imbalances, anxiety attacks or insomnia etc, it's probably best to stick to a maximum 2 cups of high quality organic coffee per day, before 2pm.
Try to consume it after meals to prevent a stress hormone spike, as food will slow down the absorption into the blood stream and it may aid digestion. (This is actually how its traditionally used ,as a bitter to stimulate the liver! )
Enjoy the process and ritual of making and consuming your drink, not downing cup after cup, using it as a crutch to get through the day.