Let’s get one thing straight, coffee is delicious. There’s no denying it, and I’m not about to tell you that reishi mushroom lattes or malt coffee is just as good. But many things are delicious which are not ideal for consumption, especially in the quantities many of us are consuming coffee.
So let’s dive into what I’m sure will be a very unpopular exploration of the reasons why caffeine is something you definitely want to limit or cut out entirely for your health and productivity:
Caffeine restricts blood flow to the brain
Through long term caffeine consumption, we actually restrict blood flow to the brain. Since many of us swear by coffee as a fuel for creativity and a means to stay sharp, it may be a shock to learn that your favourite latte is harmful to your ability to think. “Decreased cerebral blood flow lowers cognitive function and can exacerbate emotional and mental health problems.” says Dr Amen, a researcher into brain health.
Caffeine can cause insomnia or poor sleep
Did you know the half life of caffeine is about 6 hours (meaning it takes 6 hours to eliminate about half of the chemical from your system). This means that consuming coffee much after midday could already mean your sleep is negatively affected. This means, ironically, that caffeine consumption may well be the cause of the fatigue that makes you feel like you need a coffee. I don’t think you need much convincing that not sleeping enough or well enough isn’t great.
Caffeine makes you more stressed
Most of us are stressed the majority of the time, meaning we are living in a state of sympathetic nervous system arousal for far more of the time that we should be. Our stress hormones contribute to weight gain, insomnia and more. As a health coach, one of the primary causes of poor health I see time and time again is stress. Regular consumption of caffeine amplifies your stress hormones. By many of us, this feeling of the fight or flight stress response is perceived as the feeling of being amped up and laser focused, which may be what we crave from our coffee. However, this is extremely detrimental to our health and can lead to adrenal fatigue, where your stress hormones are produced in the wrong amounts at the wrong times of day, often leading to feeling wired but tired at night and exhausted in the morning (and probably more desperate for a coffee).
Caffeine can deprive you of essential nutrients
Caffeine consumption can cause nutrient depletion of important nutrients, like vitamin B6, and interfere with nutrient absorption of essential minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium and B vitamins. A primary side effect of deficiency in these nutrients is low energy levels, so you can really start to see how much of a vicious circle regular caffeine consumption can be on so many levels.
I know reading this may be frustrating due to your love of coffee. I get it, I love coffee too. But knowing how negatively it affects my productivity and health made it much easier to switch to a really good decaf (it does taste the same). If you’re keen to exit the caffeine dependence merry-go-round, start by cutting down one cup at a time or switching to decaf one cup at a time. Find other delicious hot drinks you love like golden lattes or beetroot hot chocolate (what a time to be alive!).
At Well & Truly, we know what helps people feel and therefore think well, so our workshops are caffeine free. If you’d like to learn about the other elements of our unique approach, click here.