Is coffee good or bad? It seems no one can agree. Some research says “yay” while other research says “nay” and if you’re like nearly eight in 10 Americans, it’s a daily ritual that you don’t think twice about.
By Dr. Lauryn Lax
Collectively, we go through approximately 400 million cups of coffee every day in our country, with the average coffee drinker consuming between two to three nine-ounce cups. And of those who do drink it, one study found that 90 percent of Americans prefer their cup of Joe in the afternoon, and almost 70 percent, drink it after 6 p.m.! Given these statistics, what’s the big deal?
I mean everyone is doing it, and if you’re part of this camp, you’re probably getting around just fine. At least it’s not any worse than sitting eight hours per day at your desk job, watching TV late at night or eating some non-organic chicken off the hot bar at Whole Foods. A little dirt never hurt, right? Yes, and no. While coffee is not a bad thing, when we rely on coffee to function or get through our day and can’t go without it, something may not be working 100 percent inside.
Here’s the scoop on WHY you crave coffee, plus three simple steps for finding a happy medium.
Why You Really Crave Coffee
Can’t wake up in the morning? Grab a cup of coffee. Afternoon energy dip? Grab a cup of coffee. Need a brain boost or to kick a headache? Grab a cup of coffee. Need to poop? Grab a cup of coffee.
Coffee drinkers can relate. Your energy and “good feelings” are dictated by the amount of coffee you’ve had in a day—or haven’t had in a day, but is coffee a necessary nutrient? No. The reason you crave coffee is multi-folded.
Coffee Craving Reason 1: Your Adrenal (Stress) Hormones Need It
People who crave coffee are often low in catecholamines (hormones produced by the adrenal glands, including dopamine, epinephrine-adrenaline and norepinephrine). Since coffee stimulates these hormones, your adrenal glands tell your body that it needs more of them, which makes you crave coffee.
Did you know that a 12 oz. cup of coffee can spike cortisol levels by 30 percent? After you drink coffee, cortisol levels can remain elevated for up to 18 hours!
While cortisol is a natural and necessary stress hormone, when we elevate cortisol beyond what it can handle, we experience side effects like increased anxiety, weight gain, hormonal imbalances and disrupted sleep.
Coffee Craving Reason 2: Your Brain Needs It
Coffee contains amino acids, which are the building blocks of neurotransmitters – the feel-good chemicals in our brains. When our brains are depleted of these feel-good chemicals, we reach for drugs to feel better. Cigarettes, alcohol, sugar and even coffee are all psychoactive drugs (drugs that change our brain chemistry). The body absorbs amino acids from the protein we eat; however, if we have impaired gut health from drinking too much coffee we are unable to break down the amino acids in our food the same way.
Coffee Craving Reason 3: Your Gut Bugs Are Hungry
Coffee is the most cross-contaminated food with gluten—a food with one of the highest food intolerance statistics. Hello leaky gut (or bacterial overgrowth)! Instant or cheap coffee, like Starbucks, Keurig and Folger’s, are the types of coffee to avoid since they not only contain gluten-like substances, but are also cited as one of the moldiest foods we can consume. Coffee beans contain mycotoxins, which can cause poisoning when we ingest too much of them, as well as chronic health conditions. Although mycotoxins are also found in all sorts of other foods, when we drink coffee we may over consume these molds to our detriment. Not to mention, your gut bugs LOVE moldy foods. As we continue to feed our gut bugs, we may experience symptoms like constipation, bloating, skin breakouts, seasonal allergies and anxiety.
4 Tips to Quitting Coffee (and Caffeine) Addiction
1. Cut back. If you’re used to the daily grind, it’s best to slowly reduce your intake of caffeine and coffee. If you’re drinking three to four cups daily right now, try going down to two, then one and possibly zero. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you’ve got this.
2. Replace Your Crappy Coffee. If you must keep coffee in, think quality for your cup of Joe. Reach for one cup of quality organic, whole-bean roasted coffee per day. In addition, eliminate artificial sweeteners, poor quality dairy and sugar. Keep it to grass-fed butter, ghee and/or MCT oil, coconut or almond milk (additive-free) or real full-fat grass-fed dairy creamer.
3. Support Your Gut. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to 2-4 oz. of water at meal times to boost digestion and support the breakdown of foods you eat. In addition, consider eating a medicinal dose of fermented foods daily, along with pre-biotic fibers and a quality probiotic supplement.
4. Move It. Exercise releases endorphins…endorphins make you happy…and give you less anxiety and more energy too! As counterintuitive as it may seem to exercise at times when feel drained, it increases your energy levels.
Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
You’ve probably heard all about the butter coffee hype. It’s coffee + butter + MCT oil, which supplies your body with healthy fats, helps with digestion and combats sugar cravings.
In addition, the butter coffee philosophy advocates for “quality coffee”—meaning the beans are less moldy than that Folger’s in your cup—and therefore a little bit better for your health.
Is butter coffee the best solution? No, but it can be an excellent alternative.
For more from Dr. Lauryn, visit her website at https://drlauryn.com.
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