I know you might be one of those “I need my morning coffee” types of people, but I wanted to share with you a few reasons why you might want to re-consider that cup of coffee.

While caffeine does have several health benefits – such as protecting against neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinsons and Alzheimers, increasing stamina during exercise, and lowering your risk for type II diabetes – it’s also responsible for increasing your stress hormones, which subsequently increases insulin and inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that caffeine in dietary doses increases cortisol secretion in humans, and has the potential to alter circadian rhythms, therefore interacting with stress reactions.

In particular, those who suffer from inflammatory-related diseases should be even more aware of the stress-inducing effects of caffeine. For example, women with hormonal-related and autoimmune diseases such as endometriosis and PCOS should avoid caffeine, period. Here’s a few reasons why:


Caffeine Increases Inflammation 

Caffeine has been shown to increase inflammation in the body. Given that women with endometriosis, for example, already have areas of the body that are inflamed, adding an inflammatory drink will worsen the pain the woman might already be experiencing. Studies have shown that more than a half cup of coffee a day has the ability to increase circulating white blood cells and key inflammatory cytokines.


Increases Estrogen

Recent studies have shown that caffeine consumption has been linked to estrogen changes. In fact, it may increase the production of estrogen by up to 70%. Given that women with endometriosis and PCOS already have higher levels of estrogen, the excess estrogen produced from caffeine intake simply serves to promote the further progression of these diseases.


Worsens IBS symptoms and Leaky Gut

Because caffeine is highly acidic, it can cause irritation to the stomach lining, and aggravate existing stomach issues such as ulcers. It can also worsen symptoms in women with endometriosis, such as cramping and back pain. Studies have shown that IBS patients may benefit from excluding gas-producing foods, which include caffeine and alcohol. Coffee also has been shown to harm the gut, thereby causing flare ups in other autoimmune-related disorders.


Negatively Impacts Mental Health

Given that caffeine acts as a stimulant, it heightens activity in our brain and nervous system. Those who suffer from anxiety (which is common in women with hormonal issues) are more prone to experience worsened symptoms after consuming caffeine. Studies have also shown negative effects of caffeine on stress and mental health. One such study reported higher anxiety levels in moderate and high caffeine consumers compared with abstainers in a student sample, while another suggested that mania can be induced by a high intake of caffeine or energy drinks.


Coffee Is Cross-Reactive

If you have a gluten sensitivity, then you should be wary of drinking coffee. Why? Because coffee is in fact one of the most cross-reactive foods. For example, your body might mistake coffee proteins for gluten, and then produce antibodies that result in inflammation.


Worsens Adrenal Fatigue

If you suffer from adrenal fatigue, then you already know that your adrenal glands are burning out from prolonged production of cortisol (oftentimes as a result of long-term stress). Given that caffeine increases cortisol levels, it should be a no-brainer to avoid consuming coffee.


So, what do you do post-break up with coffee?


Try some substitutes!


Green tea
 

Green tea is known to boost brain health, and tea enthusiasts have been found to have a lower risk of stroke and heart disease. Tea is also a great choice if you need a little caffeine boost, but not enough to do any damage. One cup of green tea contains 24-45 mg of caffeine, compared to 95-200 mg in the same sized cup of coffee. I personally enjoy matcha green tea lattes!

Turmeric latte

Made from a mixture of cold-pressed turmeric juice and coconut, almond, or cashew milk, turmeric lattes have gained a lot of traction due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains a little bit of caffeine, which can serve as a small pick-me-up as well.


Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented drink that is rich in probiotics and antioxidants, benefiting your brain, heart, & gut health. It’s typically considered to have about half the amount of caffeine as the tea it’s made with.


Mushroom Drinks

I personally am a huge mushroom enthusiast – they offer incredible medicinal benefits. One of my favorite drinks is a lion’s mane elixir from Four Sigmatic. This warm morning drink boosts my focus without the caffeine. In fact, lion’s mane has been shown to improve cognitive performance and memory. 


So, while coffee does offer its own unique health benefits, depending on your personal health situation, it may not be the best thing for you. See how your body responds to cutting out caffeine, and check out some of the healthy alternatives mentioned above!

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Jacqueline Genova, CHN

Jacqueline Genova, CHN

Jacqueline Genova, a certified holistic nutritionist, is passionate about wellness. She resorted to holistic approaches for healing to reverse some of her own health problems, and to help her mom battle cancer. She is a graduate of Babson College where she researched and wrote a thesis that supports a more integrative treatment approach, and is a strong advocate of incorporating complementary therapies into conventional treatment methods. As she discovered the healing powers of food as medicine, both through her own experience as well as in her research, she developed a desire to share what she learned with others. So, she started WellnStrong. She believes in a holistic approach to wellness that addresses the root causes of illness, not just the suppression of symptoms.