Monday, March 22, 2010

Don't even think about touching my java

This is my favourite coffee cup. Everyone should have a favourite mug. One of my joys in life is to wake up, turn on CBC radio, put the kettle on, prepare my french press coffee, hear the kettle boil and pour the water over the divine coffee grounds. Then I add a little whole milk and a teaspoon of organic raw sugar, pour the coffee on top of that, sit down and read the Globe and Mail online and take my first sip of java. It's a beautiful ritual that brings me much joy and pleasure.

But is this something we should all be giving up in order to reach a higher level of health? Is caffeine the devil everyone makes it out to be? The reality is that we all react differently to stimulants. As a general rule, I stay away from any caffeine after noon and would never down a coffee in the evening (except for last Friday night and of course I didn't sleep well at all!)

Some key things to consider in your caffeine consumption are:

Can you fall asleep and stay asleep
Most people should stay away from caffeine after noon
If you consume more than 3 cups of a caffeinated beverage per day, you could experience bone loss
People at risk for osteoporosis should be particularly careful about caffeine intake
If you suffer from depression it might be worth talking to your doctor about the caffeine depression link
Caffeine drinks like Red Bull etc. are the devil in my books because the levels of caffeine are so extreme- be careful

According to the Mayo Clinic:

"There's no research that shows a direct link between caffeine and depression. However, caffeine and depression may be linked indirectly for people who are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine — a mild stimulant — than are others. In such individuals, a possible connection between caffeine and depression may merit trying a few changes.

Caffeine and depression may be linked to sleep. Caffeine can make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. A lack of sleep can worsen depression. If you have trouble sleeping, don't drink caffeinated beverages late in the day. Some people need to limit caffeine consumption to the morning, or quit drinking caffeinated beverages altogether to avoid sleep problems.
Stopping abruptly can worsen depression if you regularly consume caffeine. Quitting caffeine can also cause other signs and symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and irritability.
If you have depression, you may consider limiting or avoiding caffeine to see if it helps improve your mood. To lessen these withdrawal effects, gradually reduce the amount of caffeine you consume."

Then we've got the school of thought in naturopathic medicine:

"After prolonged "caffeinism," your body enters a state of adrenal exhaustion. Your caffeine consumption has simply pushed your adrenal glands so much that they've burned out. Ralph T. Golan, ND, describes this unfortunate state in his book, Herbal Defense: "Caffeine forces your glands to secrete when they don't have much left to give, and they have to keep digging deeper and deeper, making you more and more tired over time. And over the years, it takes more and more coffee to get the same result. Some people reach the point of drinking half a dozen or more cups of coffee to get the same result and it's barely keeping them awake. That's severe adrenal depletion."

The Hidden Dangers of Caffeine

If I was seeing a trusted naturopath who was dealing with getting my health on track and he or she told me to get off caffeine, I would. However, I would ween myself over a period of a week. But this would be because it was clear that caffeine was having a negative impact on me. Not out of some type of penance.

I always have people ask me, should I cut out caffeine? I'm not an extremist when it comes to health. I'm way more interested in constant steady moderation. Obviously too much of anything isn't a good idea. Many people put themselves on self prescribed "going off" diets like going off sugar, wheat, yeast, bread, caffeine etc. When in reality most people just need to learn how to stay in a constant state of moderation never overdoing anything or going from extremes in lifestyles and instead find a happy middle ground that can be maintained in the long run. Staying off the extremes of good and bad behaviour means that lifestyle interventions are less likely to be extreme to get our bodies back into their happy place.

So I'm not giving up my java and instead limiting it. A little of it brings me an exponential amount of pleasure.

1 comment:

  1. And there are numerous studies showing now that a cup of 'joe' before your workout can be beneficial to your performance.
    pulled this from another site
    Athletes gain additional benefits from drinking coffee. Human clinical studies show that caffeine enhances the body's ability to utilize body fat for exercise, and increases the body's ability to work out before fatigue. A cup of coffee before working out can do you good, enhancing both performance and endurance.
    me personally - I have to stick to decaf - the caf makes me run to the loo in a instant!!!