Stepping Away From The Coffee
Alarm clock goes off, you hit snooze, get up, rush to get ready to leave the house for work and grab a cup of coffee to wake you up and keep you going…
Yes, this used to be my morning routine. It’s such a common response to coping with the fast pace life and our bodies lacking the nutrients needed to feel alive.
The main problem with coffee is the caffeine itself. There’s enough caffeine in just one cup of coffee to get you addicted, so within one cup you are hooked!
Your body also has to take action, as it doesn’t want to be flooded with all of that caffeine. This means it reduces the body’s ability to make use of the caffeine by reducing the receptors that respond to it (think of receptors as little antennae coming off your cells and you have different antennae (receptors) for different substances). In response to flooding your system with caffeine, your body will reduce the receptors to try and reduce the impact of the caffeine. This results in the caffeine having a reduced impact on your system, which can then result in drinking more coffee to get the same effect. You then end up in a vicious cycle of addiction, as your body tries to manage it but you fight back with pouring in even more.
Having a cup of coffee puts us in a state of alert, which of course is the reason for drinking it – because it wakes us up. But this state of alert actually puts the body into a state of anxiety, so it remains on edge, waiting for danger. Your cells don’t know the difference between being in a state of alert from a cup of coffee or being surrounded by real danger. This means your body is put into fight, flight and freeze mode, resulting in the blood flow not reaching all parts of your brain, along with a raised heart rate, sharper breathing, and blood glucose being raised to help you get away from the assumed danger.
Constantly putting your body in ‘danger’ can be very depleting for your adrenal glands, as it’s these guys who have to release all the hormones to put you into this alert/stressed state. After a while, they tend to get depleted, especially if you don’t give them a break by pouring in yet more coffee to suppress the depleted feeling your adrenals are shouting at you.
Another reason to move away from coffee is it can dehydrate the system, as stress leads to dehydration and dehydration leads to stress. Coffee puts you on the stress roundabout. It is also dehydrating for the body to have to break down the coffee, unpack it and then figure out what to do with all of its individual elements. There are over a thousand different chemicals in coffee (even more when it’s non-organic) and you are asking your body to deal with them all in one go. It’s tiring just thinking about it – like standing in a tennis court and having hundreds of balls coming at you and not knowing which one to deal with first!
So, coffee creates a number of difficulties for your body. As a naturopath, it’s always a question of trying to get to the root cause of something. Why do you feel you need the coffee? If you are exhausted, then you need to go deeper than the cup of coffee and address what is exhausting you. It may be because it makes you feel confident, or it may be simply a habit and you don’t actually need it. So maybe this is the time to try and get to the root cause of your love of coffee, rather than suppressing it with another cup.
Making changes in your lifestyle is all about making it sustainable and not trying to run before you can walk. So, if you feel you’d like to have a go at giving up coffee (or just start to cut down), I’ve some suggestions to help you let go, one stepping stone at a time:
- Start by swapping your regular cup of coffee for an organic de-caff coffee that (such as Grumpy Mule) has been decaffeinated through water – but remember de-caff doesn’t mean there’s no caffeine, it just means there’s less caffeine.
- You may really enjoy that bitter flavour and want to explore other drinks that have a similar bitterness. In that case, try Barley Cup or cacao powder.
- You may also like to watch my video on how to make a healthy cup of chocolate using cacao, as part of it shows how to make it with water and a bit of mylk as a great replacement for coffee.
I invite you to get to the root cause of your coffee drinking rather than suppressing it with a cup of coffee. If you would like to share your experiences, post in the comments below the changes you would like to make and why. Every coffee drinker who wants to give up has been there!