By: Vivien Veil
It’s National Coffee Day, the occasion when coffee junkies get together in their passion for a caffeinated brewed cup of java. An opportunity to unashamedly down numerous cups all day long to honour the most popular drink in the world.
According to a recent National Coffee Association survey, 83% of Americans drink coffee. That’s 400 million cups of coffee every day. Those in the UK consume about 70 million cups of coffee a day. Now that’s a lot of caffeinated people! For this magnificent, and sleeplessness holiday, I want to take a moment to meditate on the beverage that is much more than an instant energy tonic.
My South American parents raised us with the aroma of coffee permeating the house. By the time I turned 14, coffee became my best friend. Starbucks became my second home. To this day, my mom continues to drink coffee like water. Trying to get my coffee fanatic mom off the energy brew is like trying to stop a rhinoceros from stamping out a fire (and yes, rhinos do put out fires).
My on and off love affair with coffee finished over a month ago, and now I’ve decided to remove it from my diet completely. The caffeine messed up my sleeping patterns, and I was plagued with bouts of anxiety and impatience. I finally kissed the night owl moniker goodbye.
Nonetheless, some argue that they can guzzle down an espresso before bed and sleep like a baby, but perhaps those people haven’t completely detoxed from caffeine. I used to be one of those people. As a former Starbucks regular – I’d sometimes knock back 2 to 3 venti lattes in a single day, and like them, sleep like a sloth that very night. My multiple doses of 150mg of caffeine made me produce a tolerance to coffee, so that’s why I sometimes needed to drink up to 450mg of caffeine a day to get that wide awake and focused “high.”
Simply drinking one tall latte (75 mg caffeine) kept me awake until dawn after fully detoxing from caffeine. Nowadays, I feel much better after relinquishing my coffee habit 40 days ago. I actually gained more energy – as ironic as that sounds. Plus, I’m calmer, happier, and more relaxed.
I don’t want to put a damper on our java celebration, but coffee can breed some unpleasant side effects. However, if cutting out coffee is painstakingly impossible to do, then relax, my addicted friend. This article will show how to drink coffee the right way, but first, here are some reasons to nix the mighty black brew.
Caffeine increases the stimulating neurohormone, noradrenaline, and reduces the calming neurotransmitter, serotonin.
- Dr Julian Whitaker
“Why Should I Give Up My Beloved Coffee?”
1. It Can Make You Depressed - Chugging coffee unleashes a flood of stress hormones that end up messing with our brains. That’s why caffeine strengthens our chances to develop anxiety, depression, insomnia, and panic. We can become one big gloomy mess. Coffee stops the “calming” neurotransmitter, adenosine, from doing its job. Giving adenosine a day off from work means no relaxation and peace for us.
If someone already suffers from a mental disorder, too much caffeine will make symptoms worse. Want proof? They oversaw a study using depressive patients who took 750mg or more of caffeine daily. The outcome? Well, 50% of the patients displayed severe depression as rated on the Beck Depression Scale. Low or moderate caffeine drinkers within the same population showed a much less percentage score. The folks at the National Institute of Health assert that a moderate intake of caffeine would be 250mg per day.
2. It Causes Nutrient Absorption Chaos - Caffeine creates a sudden surge of vitamin and nutrient loss in urine and faeces. It can also block nutrients from being absorbed efficiently in our small intestines.
It reduces the absorption of some minerals, such as manganese, zinc, copper, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and phosphate. On the vitamin front:
Calcium - Indulging in a mug of filtered coffee (about 150mg of caffeine) causes a release of 5mg of calcium. One study showed that post menopausal women who ingested 300mg of caffeine lost more bone in their spines than women who consumed less. More hip fractures affect women who can’t stop their high caffeine fix than those who avoid coffee like the plague or drink in moderation – roughly 1 to 2 cups per day. So, let’s get our mommas and grandmas off the coffee pronto!
- Vitamin D - Caffeine prevents vitamin D receptors from functioning properly – meaning less vitamin D is absorbed in our bodies. We don’t absorb calcium effectively without good ole vitamin D. That means caffeine causes an increased risk of osteoporosis. In addition to causing a permanent hunched back, lack of vitamin D has been linked to unhappiness, frowning, and sadness. Move to England or another sunless place, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
- Iron - Caffeine hinders iron intake, which is important for red blood cell production. According to the Nutrition Desk Reference, drinking coffee with iron-rich foods or pills can slash absorption by up to 80%. Tip: Consume coffee at least one hour before or one hour after eating iron-containing foods or supplements.
- B Vitamins - Caffeine disturbs these water soluble vitamins by increasing urination. This depletion of B vitamins, particularly B1 (thiamine) can cause fatigue, nervousness, moodiness, and depression.
If we cut out coffee out of our diets, I predict that in 6 weeks without changing anything else, you will lose 7-8 pounds of body fat.
- Dr Nicholas Perricone
3. Coffee Traumatizes the Adrenals -Tired of those dark circles under the eyes? Unable to handle stress? Forgetful? Low sex drive? Well, thank adrenal fatigue for those brutal symptoms. Coffee inflames the stomach lining and promotes gastric acidity – this forces our body to release adrenaline and insulin. That explains why we crave sugary sweets and get moody hours after sipping our vanilla latte.
The abundant adrenaline flowing through our system also raises cortisol levels. Cortisol is known to destroy muscle, build visceral fat*, and kill brain neurons.
*Toxic visceral fat can strangle our organs. It’s the internal fatty tissue that surrounds the heart, pancreas, liver, kidneys, and hugs the muscles.
4. You Won’t Get Quality Sleep- Poor sleeping habits make us appear and feel exhausted. We can instantly spot when any of our family and friends haven’t been sleeping much. They’ll have dark circles and bags under their eyes, paleness, and maybe even saggy skin. The face shows everything!
According to NYC dermatologist Dr Deborah Wattenberg, “When you don’t sleep, stress causes the release of the hormone cortisol, which makes your skin oily and causes acne, which makes your skin look less attractive.”
Achieving a youthful appearance requires enough quality sleep. Sufficient sleep enables our bodies to unleash the anti-ageing hormone known as human growth hormone. Whereas human growth hormone (HGH) is the good guy, cortisol is the villain. Both are complete opposites, and these two definitely don’t attract.
“Human growth hormone does exactly the opposite of what cortisol does – that is, it builds up rather than break us down. It results in increased muscle mass, thicker skin, stronger bones, and an overall youthful body,” declares Dr Nicholas Perricone.
Furthermore, shunning sleep breeds memory loss, depression, and negative thinking. No one wants a Mr/Ms Grumpy. Research shows that most adults operate best with 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
Anyone who wants better skin and to look younger should get the hell away from caffeine.
- Paul Chek
“Caffeine is extremely bad for women because their hormonal systems are already very sensitive and it dries them out,” claims internationally-renowned holistic guru, Paul Chek. Caffeine speeds up the rate of biological time, so you’re actually living more than 24 hours a day. “You’re actually going to age very rapidly. So caffeine for anyone who doesn’t want to age is a very bad idea,” claims Chek. So, remember to guzzle lots and lots of water. Water must be our new best friend.
6. Weakens the Liver - Continually drinking coffee places a heavy burden on the liver. That’s not a good idea if you want to burn stubborn fat and lose toxins. The liver struggles to get rid of all of the toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and herbicides found in conventional coffee – not to mention all of the caffeine. “This then impedes us having fresh, clean blood and being able to grow and regenerate healthy tissue,” says Kimberly Snyder, a top Hollywood nutritionist.
7. Hair Loss & Grey Hair - There’s a perplexity surrounding caffeine and its association with hair growth and hair loss. Some studies indicate that caffeine promotes hair growth directly at the roots. However, too much coffee hampers the absorption of B vitamins and minerals needed to keep our hair healthy and voluminous. Biotin, a crucial vitamin for hair, is dramatically reduced with too much caffeine intake.
Likewise, coffee inhibits iron absorption. That’s bad news because the mineral iron boosts circulation in the scalp and fuels hair growth. Caffeine widens and narrows the vessels on the head, which then brings poor blood circulation, so make sure to eat plenty of iron foods and do some headstands.
We can’t run away from grey hair, but we can slow it down. Thanks to the dehydration effects of caffeine, nutrients will struggle getting to the hair follicles. Therefore, dehydration and a lack of nutrients will cause premature grey hair. Scale down caffeine, and I repeat – drink more water.
If You Can’t Give Up Coffee…
1. Always Choose Organic - The typical farmer drenches their crops with noxious herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. According to CS Monitor, they spray their crops with 250 pounds (about 115 kilograms) of chemical fertilizers per acre! We don’t want to put toxic pesticides into our bodies, especially if it’s preventable. Pesticides are responsible for a range of health problems, such as Parkinson’s disease and cancer. For this reason, it’s best to feast on organic coffee – unless of course you don’t mind swallowing pesticide residues.
Decaf coffee carries its own set of toxins. Dangerous chemicals like trichloroethylene and hexane help extract the caffeine from the coffee. Trichloroethylene is also used in degreasing metals and cleaning kerosene-fueled rocket engines. Hexane is used in the production of glues for shoes, leather products, and roofing.
If you love decaf, buy organic or biodynamic as they’re chemical free. The “Swiss Water Process” used in extracting caffeine is a much safer choice.
2. Supplements and Coffee Don’t Mix - Aim to sip coffee between meals, never right before or right after a nutritious meal. ”Coffee is a stimulant, so it revs up the gastrointestinal tract and makes things move more quickly through your body,” says Mark Moyad, MD. Give your body time to absorb the healthy goodness from the food and vitamins before caffeine invades your system.
3. Bring On the Calcium - If eliminating coffee from your diet is an absolute no go, don’t fret. Just eat lots of calcium laden foods to make up for the loss of calcium from sipping on too many cappuccinos. Raw (unpasteurised) goat’s milk ranks high as a source of calcium, and it’s the only milk similar to breast milk. A mere 100ml of goat’s milk contains 125-140mg of calcium – that’s way more than pasteurised cow’s milk.
Other great sources of calcium:
- Vegetables: Swiss chard, kale, watercress, bok choy, broccoli, okra, spinach, pak choi, and green snap beans
- Fruits: Figs, apricots, oranges, medjool dates, kumquats, prickly pears, prunes, kiwis, and mulberries
- Dairy: Raw (unpasteurised) cow’s milk, raw (unpasteurised) goat’s milk, raw (unpasteurised) mozzarella, sheep’s yogurt, and goat’s cheese
- Fish: Sardines, anchovies, and wild salmon
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, sesame seeds, and flaxseeds
- Herbs: Thyme, oregano, and basil
4. Grind Your Organic Beans - Focus on buying organic coffee beans over ground or instant coffee. Buy a great quality coffee grinder and become your own barista. Organic coffee beans contain some nutrition. Did you know much of the stimulation from coffee comes from its amino acids? Don’t always blame the caffeine.
Try and consume your freshly ground coffee minutes after preparation because it oxidises real fast. ”They did research on this in natural cancer treatment centres. So, just the way you shouldn’t leave freshly squeezed juice for more than a minute – you gotta get that coffee in your body within the next 10 minutes or else it becomes another poisonous liquid,” claims Paul Chek.
5. If You Like It Sweet and Creamy - Many of us can’t fathom drinking straight up black coffee. Although according to Paul Chek, that’s the best way to go. If you must add sugar, try pure coconut palm sugar. Always stay away from lethal artificial sweeteners! Pure coconut palm sugar is 100% natural and made from the nectar of the coconut palm tree. It has a low glycemic index (GI), healthy, and tastes absolutely amazing.
For the creaminess, try experimenting with almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk, and raw milk. All taste differently, and they make great substitutes for pasteurised cow’s milk in your morning coffee. See which one becomes your favourite. I’m not a fan of soy milk as it has been linked to breast cancer and other negative side effects. Plus, most soy is genetically modified.
6. Put On Your Workout Gear - If you drink coffee, you might as well put it to good physical use. Caffeine launches uncontrollable neuron firing in the brain, according to Stephen Cherniske in his book, Caffeine Blues. This overflow of neuron activity prompts the pituitary gland to tell the adrenal glands to release adrenalin.
Adrenalin is what gives my triathlete brother tons of energy to compete in 70.3 races. Adrenalin sets off the “fight or flight” response, which gave our ancient ancestors the energy to escape from lions and bears – oh my!
Let’s face it, this ”fight or flight” response is really pointless while sitting in front of a computer. Once the caffeine says goodbye, fatigue and melancholy move in. So, to combat those unwanted visitors, exercise after drinking coffee and get those happy endorphins pumping.
7. Try Out Yerba Mate - Yerba mate (YERB-ah mah-TAY) is a South American tea that contains caffeine. Like numerous other teas, yerba mate is bathed in high amounts of antioxidants, vitamins (including vitamin C and the B vitamins), and minerals (manganese, potassium, and zinc). In fact, the Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific Society investigated the properties of yerba mate. They claimed that no other plant in the world is equal in nutritional value to the yerba mate.
“People who drink yerba mate experience no jitters or blood sugar drops. Plus, acidity is prevented,” says Dr Ramsay, a naturopathic medical doctor. Try switching to yerba mate as it’s a good transition drink for coffee addicts.
I personally suggest giving up coffee for at least two weeks. Getting rid of coffee and caffeine can immensely improve how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. Not to mention, you’ll gain much more natural energy. After a while, you won’t even miss it anymore.
And if you DO drink coffee, drink it the right way. :)
Special thanks to Inga Sleinere for helping me with the photo editing.
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