• leighmcswan

Coffee: Do You Need to Give It Up?

Updated: Jun 15

Should you stop drinking coffee? Is it really that bad for you? What about the health benefits? Like many top topics of debate in the nutrition world, nothing is black and white. There is nuance with almost everything- why? There are many reasons, but the one reason I focus on is holistic individuality. What’s bad for one person won’t necessarily be bad for another; what’s good for one person won’t necessarily be good for another. We’ll look at some symptoms to be aware of if you’re working on nurturing your adrenals and deciding if coffee has a place in your diet or if it needs to take a backseat.



The Good and the Bad


Before going any further, it’s important to note that differences between coffee being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for us can sway in one direction or the other depending on the type of coffee and what you put into it. It’s probably a good idea to evaluate how you’re drinking your coffee: is it sugar or aspartame-laden with gut irritating plant-based milks, or is it full of healthy, healing fat from sources like coconut oil, coconut milk, cocoa butter, grass-fed butter or ghee? That’s the first step and the first place to start when you want to drink coffee responsibly.


The second is to consider where you’re getting the coffee from. Everyone’s favourite coffee joint has coffee beans that are high in mold. This gives us the illusion that we’ve had a caffeine hit when, in reality, we’re getting the jitters from mold exposure which then further stresses the body, creates anxiety, brain fog and harms the adrenals. Look into the brands you’re currently buying and reach out to the company to ask about their mold and mycotoxin (this is naturally occurring in coffee, dried fruits, nuts and cocoa, but quality control should be done to mitigate high exposure) testing to help ensure you’re making a wise purchase.


Symptoms of High Cortisol


Coffee, and caffeine in general, does have an effect on cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) which can look like:

  • agitation

  • weight gain (specifically around the mid-section)

  • feeling tired but ‘wired’ in the evening

  • insomnia or difficulty falling asleep

  • waking between 3 and 5am

  • headaches

  • gastrointestinal issues

  • irregular periods

  • low sex drive

  • elevated blood sugar

  • high carb or sugary food cravings


Take a Break or Re-evaluate?


If you’re experiencing some of these symptoms it make be time to take a break from caffeine for at least 2 weeks and determine your baseline cortisol experience. A few years ago I quit coffee for a few months to nurture my adrenal glands and was able to bring it back into my life in a healthy way. Coffee or caffeine elimination doesn’t have to be permanent and if you enjoy a cup of coffee or tea as part of your morning routine, there’s something to be said for the happiness that brings you. Just be aware and make changes when needed.


Take a look at my free guide, How to Lower your Cortisol for some ways to get your cortisol under control.


Another option, since giving up caffeine may not be desirable for all people, is to eliminate coffee and switch to tea. Tea still contains caffeine but also has a calming compound called Theanine (which you can buy as a supplement too) which coffee doesn’t contain. Coffee contains a compound that tea doesn’t contain called Theophylline which stimulates the heart and can leave you feeling like your heart is racing or palpitating.


If eliminating coffee isn’t sitting well with you, eliminate coffee consumption after 9am. Many people report feeling better and less stressed/anxious when coffee is consumed earlier in the day and may even help with mental acuity when only taken early on and lowering the dosage to 300mg or below (1).


In vibrant health,

xo Leigh



References

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2257922/