It’s no secret that I love coffee. I found a new love for it after the birth of my son and drink it daily (though I can only hack one cup a day - read on to find out why!) For this reason, I’m always on the lookout for reasons that confirms the health benefits.
According to some studies, coffee has been associated with many health advantages due to its high antioxidant content which may help protect against cell damage, oxidative stress and premature ageing. Some research has even linked coffee to improved cognitive function and a lower risk of type II diabetes and Alzheimer’s (all studies linked below).
With that in mind, the potential negative consequences of drinking too much caffeine can’t be ignored - especially when it comes to our hormones!
You may be familiar with the issues associated with drinking coffee - it can be addictive and may cause digestive issues but did you know that a single cup of coffee can lead to a prolonged increase in your stress hormone, cortisol? This can also cause blood sugar and insulin spikes, which is NOT good for our hormones!
Here are a few reasons why you may want to rethink your morning beverage (especially if you're having it on an empty stomach).
Nutrient Depletion - caffeine DEPLETES essential vitamins and minerals in the body needed for optimal health such as magnesium and B vitamins such as folate, which can worsen PMS symptoms such as anxiety and breast tenderness. In fact, caffeine has been shown to increase the development of benign breast disease.
Mood Regulation - caffeine can also mimic symptoms of anxiety and nervousness and also reduces production of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin in the body so may affect mood.
Inflammation - if you struggle with period pain, you might want to think twice about reaching for that cup of Joe! Coffee causes inflammation and has been shown to make period pain much worse.
I think it’s also important for to understand how your body responds to coffee as some people don’t metabolise caffeine as well as others.
Caffeine is broken down by the liver using the enzyme CYP1A2 and depending on your genetics, you’ll either make a lot of this enzyme or a little. If you have a mutation on this gene, this will dictate on how your body can break down and eliminate caffeine from your system.
Personally, I know that caffeine REALLY affects my nervous system and will often feel super anxious or jittery if I have more than 1 cup a day. I wasn't therefore surprised that after a genetic test I was found to have a mutation on this gene. Up to 90% of the population are also thought to have the same mutation!
If you struggle with any of these symptoms, it might be worth looking at how much caffeine you are consuming and consider reducing your intake (and to consider the quality of the coffee you’re drinking too...instant is just not the same).
Great alternatives to coffee include green tea or other herbal teas, chicory tea. If you do have to have a coffee in the morning, make sure it's high quality (preferably organic and NOT instant) and you're having it with breakfast, rather than on an empty stomach.