Wanna meet over a cup of coffee? I can’t even tell how many times this question has led to the most interesting discussions I’ve ever had. In my home country, coffee culture is huge.
There are tradition, rituals, memories, and relief connected to drinking coffee and no research could ever beat the value that people get out of that. In defense of coffee, scientists are proving that it helps us live longer, avoid Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, some meta-analyses suggest that we could experience the worsening of anxiety, depression, heart palpitations, insomnia, headaches and some cancers.
Whatever the science says, I noticed that people get defensive around coffee, justifying their choice religiously.
As we raise our consciousness around health, the “righteousness” of coffee drinking becomes the source of concern for many. Some people, afraid of its acidity and other side effects start swapping their morning cup of joe with other drinks. I get so many questions regarding coffee, and I never get to answer them in the black and white, good and bad fashion. There is a vast space between those polarities that is worth exploring.
Now, if you want to understand whether coffee is your jam or not, how to formulate a healthy relationship with coffee, how to approach the trend of a butter-rich aka Bulletproof coffee, this article will probably help you get some clues and ideas on how to navigate the world of a massive noise around this black decadence. I also share the information on how women are affected by cortisol and how to manage your afternoon slump, which could positively turn your life around.
Is coffee your jam?
Coffee isn't good nor bad. It’s about its quality, your genetic predisposition to metabolize it slowly or rapidly, your age and the quantity you take. Caffeine is the primary troublemaker here. Without getting too scientific, it’s essential for you to understand if you are a fast or a slow metabolizer. If you metabolize caffeine slowly, it means that it stays in your body for a long time and circulates your system triggering your stress hormones. If you break down the caffeine fast, you’ll get more benefits of the coffee plant itself that has plenty of antioxidants and polyphenols in it.
In case you are slow metabolizer (and the majority of people are), the best idea is to keep your dose to a minimum. For the additional antioxidants - use dark leafy vegetables, blueberries, and turn towards eating a whole foods diet.
People prone to feeling stress and anxiety tend to be especially sensitive to caffeine. One way to determine if your daily dose is making you suffer is to stop drinking coffee and other sources of caffeine (chocolate, black tea, energy drinks) for three weeks and see how your body feels.
How is your relationship with coffee?
The main downside of the coffee is that it triggers the stress response system. No doubt that people nowadays are facing the chronic stress. Our adrenals are already overworked (helping us run away from that lion (boss, wife, children, goals) that keeps chasing us), and coffee only adds to that process. If you experience heart palpitations, jittery or shaky feeling in your body - it could be that coffee triggers it to secrete even more adrenaline and cortisol.
Coffee is also addictive. Not precisely like other drugs, but enough to make you drink more of it to experience the same sensation. My husband was a heavy coffee drinker. I mean 5-6 cups a day. Sometimes more. He knew that his brain had addictive nature, so he decided to stop drinking it entirely and cold turkey. It wasn’t easy as his body's reactions were backfiring, but drinking plenty of water has helped tremendously, just as forming the new and healthier habits that have replaced this addictive behavior.
Dr. Elson Haas writes that caffeine needed to produce stimulation increases with regular use, as is typical of all addictive drugs. Looking at his list of pros and cons, I realize that there are more side effects of drinking coffee. Could moderation help? It could if you are the person that can tolerate even moderate amounts of coffee.
If you have a history of drinking vast amounts of coffee and you believe that it doesn’t affect you, you might be experiencing the numbness of your receptors. That means that your system is under chronic stress, so it doesn’t even react to caffeine anymore.
The best solution here would be to wean yourself off the coffee for the few weeks to be able to set your system back to its baseline. Consuming alkaline diet and plenty of water together with regular sweating through exercise and sauna could do wonders for your physical and mental state.
Have you tried the Bulletproof coffee?
That frothy, buttery cup of joe - I could live off one cup a day without taking any food. Even though I am not a coffee drinker, it’s hard to resist a bulletproof version. It's made out of the best quality coffee beans that don't contain any mold, a piece of a grass-fed unsalted butter, and a spoon of MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil which is a derivate from coconut oil. People who are on ketogenic or paleo-style diets like to experiment with this coffee. It’s a massive appetite suppressant, focus enhancer, yet it has a severe downside - if you stay away from the whole produce (veggies, a little meat), you’ll deplete your body from nutrition that is vital for it to thrive. It will soon show on your face and in your performance. However, if you decide to experiment with the Bulletproof coffee to take your appetite back to its baseline, I would friendly suggest that as soon as your desire for food gets back to normal, you increase your veggies consumption and take some quality protein. If you continue to avoid them (because you don’t feel hungry), you’ll trigger your body's stress response which could take you back to where you had started. Not fun.
If the only problem is caffeine, can we have a decaffeinated version instead?
Decaf is not caffeine free. It still has the caffeine in it but the smaller doses. Here’s the truth bomb - decaf coffee is saturated with chemicals. Avoiding the caffeine will give you plenty of nasties, so always chose an organic version.
Many women, your’s truly included, experience afternoon slump.
And many women take that afternoon cup of coffee or a piece of dark chocolate to increase their energy levels. However, this could signal that your blood sugar levels might have dropped significantly. Have you had pastries, sweets, muffins, porridges, bagels, bread earlier in the day? Or, have you maybe entirely skipped your breakfast or lunch?
Look into these things first and try eating the foods that don’t raise your insulin too much. Eggs, some wilted or fresh greens, and good fats would make your body naturally regulate the afternoon energy slump.
One final note that I want to share because it keeps showing up as a pattern with my clients is that if you are a stress oriented person, with the obsessive-compulsive disorder, with anxiety, trouble sleeping - coffee is not going to be right for you. Its toxic properties will outweigh all the antioxidants that it provides. Dr. Sarah Gottfried writes that for many women (herself included) the cortisol surge never turns off. It keeps us alive by raising blood sugar, increasing blood pressure and modulating inflammation. Caffeine can add to this pile by making your heart beats like the jungle drum.
Being informed and aware is the first step. Now is your turn to scan your body, take a look at your behavior and act accordingly. If you cannot do it alone, always reach for help.
Remember, do simple better and know that lifestyle is the set of daily choices, so choose wisely.