It can trigger or worsen anxiety
Picture this - you have a huge day, a looming deadline, important meeting and a full schedule with the kids you are feeling panicked by the sheer amount of work to do. So, naturally, you reach for a cup of coffee (double shot of course) because well... energy – and enter anxiety attack. During the stress response, often referred to as being in a state of fight or flight, circulating cortisol and adrenaline levels are elevated. Add caffeine to the mix, the adrenals are pushed further to release more cortisol causing an individual to experience symptoms of irritability, reduced cognition, heart palpitations and sometimes dizziness and nausea. The best thing to do during these times is to AVOID COFFEE. If you don’t know, there is nothing less fun than a caffeine-induced anxiety attack. Deep breathing exercises, nourishing your body with wholefoods and calming teas like chamomile or peppermint will do you a lot better than caffeine on days like these.
It inhibits absorption of iron
Coffee is rich in phytochemicals referred to as tannins (so is black tea and red wine). Tannins have shown to bind iron and inhibit its absorption. Other vitamins and minerals which may also have reduced bioavailability with coffee include magnesium, calcium and B vitamins. Therefore, it is advised to keep a 2-hour window between coffee (or tea) and main mealtimes and nutrient supplements.
It can cause irritation of our GIT
This may sound like an oxymoron, due to the above point, but having coffee on an empty stomach can cause irritation and inflammation. This is due to its stimulation of gastric acid production. On an empty stomach these acids can irritate our GIT lining, worsening reflux and increasing the risk of stomach ulcers. That is why I find it best to have a mid-morning coffee with a snack such as a muesli bar, nuts or granola with yogurt.
It can deplete key nutrients
Caffeine has shown to also increase excretion of nutrients including B vitamins, and small amounts of calcium and potassium.
B vitamins have a crucial role in energy production (among many others) and fuel our adrenals. So not only do we lose them when we drink coffee due to its diuretic action, we also lose them from adrenal stimulation. It is important for coffee drinkers to be mindful of this and include an array of B vitamins in their daily diet – think leafy greens, seeds & nuts, whole grains and legumes.
It can affect insulin sensitivity
Caffeine has shown to be a contributing factor for insulin resistance. A recent study found that by having coffee first thing in the morning before breakfast and after a poor night’s sleep caused significant disruption of blood sugar control. This means you will likely experience a spike in blood sugar followed by a crash later in the day – cue low energy and hello cravings! This study displays after a poor night sleep the best option is to have coffee after eating breakfast.
Some of the benefits of reducing/eliminating coffee include:-
- Better sleep
- Increased focus
- Decreased feelings of stress & anxiety
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased energy on waking (ok this one might take a while to achieve)
- Weight loss
I challenge you to take a week or two off from coffee (for the brave, try 1 month). I recommend starting it on a weekend or when you don’t have any pressing work to do - caffeine withdrawals are real! During this time journal and be mindful of how you feel, noting improvements in any of the above areas of your health.
If and when you do decide to rekindle your love affair with coffee, try to remember the hints provided in this article to ensure you maintain a healthier relationship with that beautiful, golden liquid.