I am a reformed coffee addict. I used to believe that the ONLY way to get me going first thing in the morning was with a large flat white (and some banana bread, but that’s a whole other story). Now I am not trying to demonise coffee – when I do drink it I have a short macchiato that makes me look like a much more hard core coffee drinker than I really am. But I know for some women the idea of not drinking coffee every day fills them with dread (and in some cases with tears). So I wanted to explain the good and the bad (and the ugly) when it comes to coffee consumption and let you decide.
The caffeine in coffee (and black & green tea) can help to increase not only energy levels but brain function too. It can also help physical performance especially for athletes. Coffee contains many nutrients such as Vitamin B2, B5, B3 plus manganese and potassium. And it is full of antioxidants.
The other thing I love about coffee is its beautiful social element. It always feels great to hang out with a good friend over a cuppa. Or take a break from the grind of work to go and grab a take-away at the local café.
This is a good time to reiterate that there is nothing wrong with a daily cup of coffee. As I’ve mentioned, there are many health benefits. If you only drink one cup of coffee (or black tea) a day, you may not even need to read the rest of this. But for everyone else…
I decided regular (milky) coffee wasn’t right for me after I completed my Cleanse Detox last year. After taking a week off dairy I realised that it was the milk in the coffee that made me feel uncomfortable. After my flat white I would often feel bloated, gassy, cramping in my belly and have loose stools. (I’m sorry if that’s too much information, but we are all adults here aren’t we?)
If you feel some of those symptoms after you drink your large coffee (or after your second one), maybe it’s the milk that is causing you the most pain, rather than the coffee? When I have my short macchiato, it is just a shot of coffee with a spoonful of froth. My tummy never feels upset after that.
If that rings true for you then talk to your barista about making your coffee with less milk and see what happens.
If that isn’t your problem, and you drink more than one coffee every day, read on for the ugly side of coffee.
Caffeine in coffee (and tea) sends a signal to the brain to produce adrenaline. That is what gives us that lovely spike in energy when we’ve had a cup of coffee. But adrenaline is also the thing that is produced when we are in a car accident. Or when we get ticked off by our boss. Or when we are about to miss a flight. Or when a kid gets knocked down during a footy match and we don’t know how he/she is yet.
One of these little spikes a day is fine. We can cope with that. But if we are fuelling ourselves with multiple coffees during the day, we are actually constantly in this state of “emergency”. The body & brain don’t know that we aren’t in serious danger because all it knows is that it has the “I’m not safe” hormone rushing around. This can lead to shallow breathing (not getting optimal levels of oxygen), the blood flow moving from the abdominal area to the arms and legs (digestion slows which can promote bloating & IBS and the reproductive organs aren’t being nourished which can lead to infertility and other problems) and to cortisol production (which tells the body to store fat in case we need it in the future).
(The other quick note for women over 40 is that the adrenal glands (they produce cortisol and adrenaline) would like to help you out by making some extra estrogen while you are going through peri-menopause. But they can’t when they are busy producing cortisol and adrenaline. Quitting caffeine could help minimise peri-menopausal symptoms)
I know this sounds very dramatic but a regular multiple coffees a day habit can really play havoc with your body!
I would recommend that you try to cut back to only one coffee a day. Don’t go cold turkey! Just slowly cut back. Try drinking green tea or herbal tea. And see how you feel after a month.
How do you feel about cutting back your coffee intake? Let me know in the comments section and I will give you some practical advice personalised for you.
If you would like to learn more about how stress, food and exercise impact your body, your health and your happiness then sign up for my free 3-part video series.