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Coffee, tea, caffeine and whether you should drink it is such a contentious subject! Ask 10 people whether you should have it and you’ll get 10 different answers. And really, it does depend on many things as to whether it suits you. I thought I’d share some of the physical effects and my guidelines for caffeine to help you make an educated decision about whether or not you can enjoy a cup in your day or abstain.

What is caffeine?

Caffeine is a psychoactive compound found in chocolate, colas (soft drinks), energy drinks, coffee and tea. Psychoactive means it is active or impacts the brain and nervous system. Caffeine is popular for its ability to temporarily counteract fatigue and improve focus.

Caffeine content in common drinks

WHAT DOES IT DO?

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. It impacts sleep, fatigue and mood through its effect on neurotransmitters like adenosine and dopamine. Remember, sleep is essential for mental function and for our bodies to repair and restore function.

Essential nutrients like electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, chloride and sodium) and B-vitamins are depleted with excessive caffeine use. This can be because of increased urination, stress hormone levels or gut irritation. As a gut irritant, caffeine can alter the health of our gut and microbiome which impacts how well we absorb nutrients from our food.

Nutrient levels and gut health also impacts mood, energy, sleep, the immune system, and general health, plus placing stress on the adrenal glands. For most of us living a high-paced, modern life, we do not need any more stress on our adrenal glands! They work hard to produce cortisol and other hormones needed when our body responds to stress.

When we’re feeling tired or chronically fatigued, it can be tempting to use caffeine to boost our energy. However, this effect is temporary. Due to the impact on nutrients and neurotransmitter balance, the energy boost is short-lived and there is usually a rebound effect. This rebound effect means that you feel greater fatigue. So for people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, adrenal fatigue, exhaustion or burnout, caffeine is discouraged.

PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF CAFFEINE

Caffeine suppresses the appetite – which you may be doing intentionally if you are fasting or can be an unintentional side effect. When your appetite is suppressed, it can make it harder to eat the amount of food needed for optimal nutrient intake. Caffeine can interfere with calcium absorption, so please be very mindful of this if you are at risk of osteoporosis or your calcium intake is already reduced.

The image below (credit healthline.com) explains some of the other side effects of caffeine. You’ll notice that some of the things listed are positives, but this doesn’t mean you should drink buckets every day! Stick with my guidelines (below).

Impact of Caffeine on Body

TOLERABILITY

Your body gets used to and depends on caffeine the more you drink it. This means you’ll need to drink more to get the same level of stimulation. It also means that if you stop drinking caffeine you may experience withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, or feeling sleepy. If you are going to reduce your caffeine intake, then it’s best to decrease it by 1/2 cup per day to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Some delicious caffeine alternatives are around these days. I like a mix of roasted dandelion root and chicory. You can find this in lots of health food stores, but I do like the Teeccino brand as it is in a teabag which makes it very easy to take out and about with you. You can also try switching to decaf, dandelion chai, and rooibos tea. Or if you like herbal teas, try chamomile, peppermint, or any other mix you find that you like.

CAFFEINE GUIDELINES

So without further ado, here they are!

  1. One cup per day. Sometimes two.
  2. Keep it small – one cup or shot at a time and not too much (organic, full cream) milk. (If you’re using milk alternatives please choose wisely! Some have maltodextrin, artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.)
  3. Not on an empty stomach, and ideally about 30 minutes (or more) after your meal.
  4. Before midday, if you want to sleep well!
  5. Please, no sugar.
  6. If you’re so tired and exhausted you feel like you need it – then please don’t have it!
  7. Organic, fairtrade beans for your coffee, and choose organic teas or chocolate products.
  8. Soft drink – just nope, nope, nope.
  9. Chocolate – organic please and low sugar which means it will have to be at least 70% cacao. That’s right, no mars bars etc!

Are your energy levels at rock bottom? Instead of turning to the quick fix of caffeine, perhaps it’s time to find out what is causing it. Fatigue is just a symptom of other underlying causes. I work with many exhausted, burnt-out Mums in my clinic to do just this. By understanding the root cause, we can take steps to repair this and you then have the knowledge to prevent it from happening again.

Book in for a free discovery call today, and we can explore how you can feel energised and focused (sans caffeine!)

caffeine coffe tea should you drink it?