Self-Care Saturdays: Kicking the Coffee Habit
Just when you resolve to kick the coffee habit for good, yet another news report touts the health benefits of moderate coffee drinking.
The media continues to keep us in a quandary with conflicting reports on coffee’s impact on our wellbeing. Surely, with it’s sumptuous aroma and the promise of a caffeine jolt, it can’t be all that bad can it? While it’s consumption might enhance alertness and concentration, the negative effects of guzzling down numerous cups of coffee each day are far reaching, especially if you drink more than one cup a day.
The more stress we have, the more coffee we drink just to keep up the pace of modern life. It’s a vicious cycle. Coffee gets us going in the morning, yet this unnatural stimulation creates stress levels that wreak havoc on our immune system, and puts stress on our thyroid and adrenals, increasing stress hormones in the body such as cortisol and epinephrin, and raising insulin levels, leading to inflammation and pain. The caffeine in coffee also interferes with gamma-aminobutyric acid metabolism, or GABA, a neurotransmitter that regulates the body’s mood and stress levels.
Heavy coffee consumption has negative effects on the gastrointestinal tract. While it is fairly well known that coffee can be harsh on the stomach, it can also irritate the lining of the small intestine. Coffee drinking can be problematic for people suffering from ulcers or IBS, and can cause heartburn. It also has has laxative properties, which can be unpleasant in it’s self, but also interferes with the body’s ability to absorb important nutrients like iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins.
Coffee contains Acrylamide, a potentially carcinogenic substance that forms when coffee beans are roasted at high temperatures. The darker the roast, the higher levels of acrylamide are likely to be. In fact, coffee has been shown to be one of the major sources of this chemical in the standard American diet.
Most people would admit that coffee is indeed addictive! It gives you a surge of energy, followed by a crash, and an urge for more of the stuff to maintain the desired level of stimulation. Addiction to other illicit substances is identified as requiring increasing amounts of the substance to get a high, while total abstinence results in nasty withdrawal symptoms. While coffee drinking is more socially acceptable than drugs or excessive drinking, yet anyone who has gone cold turkey off coffee can testify to experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms!
Eight tips for kicking the coffee habit for good!
Cutting out coffee should be a careful, graduate process, especially if you rely on more than one cup a day. Caffeine withdrawal is no joke, with headaches, flu-like symptoms, drowsiness, irritability, and constipation, just to name a few! Here are eight ideas for easing the discomfort of kicking the habit:
Water: ensure you get six to eight glasses of filtered water a day. Instead of your usual morning cup of coffee, have a cup of warm water with some freshly squeezed lemon juice
Green Tea: green tea contains a small amount of caffeine but it is also rich in antioxidants. Also consider herbal teas such as peppermint, chamomile, ginger or rooibos, all of which are naturally caffeine free and are crammed with health benefits
Roasted Dandelion Root: dandelion root can be made into a surprisingly good substitute for coffee, and is rich in flavor and high in vitamin C, D and beta carotene
Chicory Root: chicory is a healthy, caffeine-free coffee alternative which can brewed in your own coffee pot and smells and tastes very similar to the real thing
Sleep: when you take coffee away, you are likely to feel tired and lethargic, so be gentle with yourself and allow for more time for sleep each night
Eat: some people substitute coffee for real food, so when you’re feeling hungry, make sure to eat and not let your blood sugar get low. Try protein rich foods such as almonds or tuna
Exercise: to fight off the fatigue get a daily dose of exercise, even if it’s simply going for a 30 minute lunchtime walk
Pause: caffeine withdrawal can been stressful and unpleasant. Many people benefit from meditation or other mindful activities to calm your mind and body, and boost the immune system
Most people are protective of their coffee and mourn its loss when they are required to give it up! But if you’ve read this far, then maybe you are seeing some value in at least cutting down. Kicking the coffee habit is a challenging goal, but your body will thank you and reward you with greater clarity, a sense of calm, more restful sleep and an authentic energy that is rightfully yours!