It is in the news again – coffee is supposedly good for you.
However, the coffee debate still rages on, and anyone on a Nutritionhelp protocol will know that I strongly advise against all forms of caffeine. So what research is this headline based on, and why am I not rushing out to stock up on quality coffee?
One 350ml cup of coffee every day for 16 years reduces the risk of premature death by 12 per cent, and by 16 per cent if you drink three cups a day.
However, it is impossible to absolutely prove that coffee increases longevity—there are far too many other lifestyle factors involved to determine that. What were the study participants eating? Were some smoking? How many were exercising? Were any taking nutritional supplements? With no controls on these important areas, it seems unfeasible to accurately say that the coffee alone is responsible for longevity.
There are many other studies considering the benefits of coffee, in particular its impact on insulin resistance (where cells fail to respond correctly to insulin). However, the result of these studies continue to provide mixed results. Some Nutritional Therapists decide to recommend coffee, based on the apparent benefits. Others of us see that the many negative aspects of coffee consumption vastly outweigh any positives. On a practical level, a high proportion of my clients have seen major health improvements in coming off all source of caffeine (including tea, cola, chocolate and some over-the-counter pain medications). Benefits are as varied as relief from daily headaches, to an end to constant cystitis. Pragmatically therefore, these results confirm that I will stay away from caffeine, while the following list by Dr Mark Hyman, provides the biochemical background to why avoiding caffeine is beneficial.
- The caffeine in coffee increases catecholamines, your stress hormones. The stress response elicits cortisol and increases insulin. Insulin increases inflammation and this makes you feel lousy.
- Habituation to caffeine decreases insulin sensitivity, making it difficult for your cells to respond appropriately to blood sugar. High blood sugar levels lead to arterial deterioration and increased risk of mortality related to cardiovascular disease.
- Unfiltered coffee has the highest amount of beneficial antioxidants yet also leaks the most diterpenes into your system. These diterpenes have been linked to higher levels of triglycerides, LDL and VLDL levels.
- The helpful chlorogenic acids which may delay glucose absorption in the intestine have also been shown to increase homocysteine levels- an indicator for increased risk of cardiovascular disease which tends to be elevated in diabesity.
- The acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, heart burn, GERD and dysbiosis (imbalances in your gut flora).
- Addiction is often an issue with coffee drinkers and makes it really difficult to rely on the body’s natural source of energy. Ask any coffee drinker about how it feels to withdraw from coffee, and you will mistake their story for that of a drug addict’s…
- Associative addictions trend with coffee – who doesn’t immediately think of warm, frothy sweet cream and sugar when they picture coffee? Surely the business of coffee has inspired a culture addicted to the sugary, fatty tastes of what has become more of a meal then a drink! That morning latte is the epitome of food lacking nutrition density yet packing energy!
- 5-HIA, an organic acid and component of the neurotransmitter serotonin ( the happy chemical) seen in the urine tends to be elevated in coffee drinkers which means they may be at risk for lower levels of serotonin synthesis in the brain. Serotonin is necessary for normal sleep, bowel function, mood, and energy levels. It is a vicious cycle as caffeine can disrupt sleep and promote anxiety and depression. We all know someone who tends to be tired, wired and over caffeinated!
- Elevated urinary excretion of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium have been noted in coffee drinkers. An imbalance in your electrolyte status can lead to serious systemic complications.
- Constituents in coffee can interfere with normal drug metabolism and detoxification in the liver making it difficult to regulate the normal detoxification process in the liver. Another issue to be aware of with coffee intake is how certain medications such as levothyroxine (thyroid) as well as tricyclic antidepressants are poorly absorbed, making symptoms curiously worse for patients.
Now what… If you think you can’t cut that coffee out, think again. I did it and now I want you to feel the same level of renewal and restoration I experienced. It’s a wise experiment to provide yourself a break from caffeine intake and see what it feels like to live your life on your own fuel. Remove coffee and caffeine safely from your system and see how authentically energized you feel!
How to Avoid Withdrawal Symptoms
Those who consume the most caffeine, alcohol and sugar, and those who have the highest toxic load, tend to have the most difficulty initially. In any event, symptoms of withdrawal usually disappear after three or four days. It is best to slowly reduce your intake of caffeine and coffee.
To help you through the withdrawal symptoms, and limit their impact, Dr Hyman goes on to discuss key suggestions, including:
Make sure you drink at least six to eight glasses of filtered water daily. Instead of coffee in the morning, take some warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
To prevent headaches, make sure your bowels are clean. (avoid getting constipated)
If you are tired, allow more time for sleep.
Take 1,000 mg buffered vitamin C with breakfast and dinner.
Make sure you exercise daily to help fight off fatigue. Even simple walking is good. 30 minutes daily.
Some people rely on substituting coffee for real food. When you are hungry make sure to eat and do not let your blood sugar get low. Have some protein in the afternoon such as a handful of nuts or seeds like almonds, pecans, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds, cooked beans, or a piece of steamed or baked fish.
Take a sauna or heat therapy in a bath.
Practice pressing the pause button. (Give your self time to rest and relax)
Keep a journal and track your symptoms. Note the difference in quality of energy you experience while off coffee.
Consider a complete elimination program and avoid all refined sugars, flours, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten and any other addictive substance. By allowing certain triggers to stay in the diet the body stays on the vicious cycle of cravings and addictive behaviour. Reset your biology by eliminating all these dietary triggers for inflammation and fatigue.
See Dr Hyman’s full article here
Simple?! Perhaps giving up this daily drink will take a good deal of will-power and determination. But many of my clients have been amazed at how much better they have felt when they have made the decision to come off all sources of caffeine. It is important to find new drinks to replace coffee, and a popular choice is dandelion root coffee. You can easily make Dandelion root coffee in a cafetiere, and like coffee, can be taken weak or strong. It also supports the body in its detoxification processes.
Why not get in touch and book a nutritional consultation? I can help you find the right foods and drinks your body needs to support you into Optimum Health.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about a nutritional consultation.