The mystery of coffee, and how it has an effect on our hormones
Each person reacts differently to coffee. Have you ever noticed some people can drink coffee before bed and it won’t affect them in the slightest? Then you have others who are buzzing from coffee all day? Well, that would be me, bouncing off the walls, and buzzing around. However, there is a certain way to have coffee that will counteract the buzz, which I will explain in more detail later.
While we know many things about the impact caffeine on the human’s stress physiology, there are certain mechanisms of how it occurs that are still relatively mysterious. 1.
When we drink our coffee, it goes directly into our intestines where it then gets absorbed into the blood stream and then attaches to receptors in our brain (this is when some of us start to get the buzzing effects of caffeine) eventually after circulating the blood stream; it hits the liver where it is metabolised.
So why do we react so differently to coffee...
You have fast metabolisers – Generally speaking the effect of caffeine on their body is shorter in duration. So they tend to have more coffee throughout the day. However, there are people who still do not react well to coffee amongst the fast metabolisers.
You have slow metabolisers – The more sensitive types, as the effects of caffeine linger around in their brain and blood stream longer. They tend to not be able to drink caffeine at night and would still be buzzing around for a few hours.
So how do you know whether you should drink it or not? Or what else you could do to help the effects of caffeine.
Firstly, we need to assess your situation and your personal reaction to caffeine.
How stressed am I..
Most people tend to drink caffeine during stressful periods; this is a mistake as coffee intensifies stress levels. Human’s studies have shown that caffeine increases hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine during resting periods. So drinking coffee actually re-creates stress conditions for the body. 2.
The release of too many of these hormones sends our body into a "fight or flight" behavioral mode. Meaning our mind and body thinks it’s in a constant threatening situation, eventually leading to a constant state of anxiety.
How are my Hormones...
Caffeine is detoxified using the same pathway that also metabolises the hormone estrogen through the liver. So women with hormonal imbalances such as, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis or a history of all this tend to be more sensitive to caffeine and tend to be slow metabolisers.
Caffeine strongly affects the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis: the linked system of hypothalamus and pituitary glands in the brain, and the adrenal glands that sit on top the kidneys. The HPA axis influences the body’s ability to manage and deal with stress, both at rest and during activity and plays a huge role in the communication of our hormones. 3.
What tips should I consider..
Coffee is acidic, so never have it on an empty stomach as it destroys HCL which helps digest food. Eventually this could lead to stomach ulcers, nausea, and heartburn. Always eat something before your coffee. Why not try a slight tad of cardamom in your coffee, which is widely known in India and Israel. Cardamom is alkaline, making it a natural antidote to the acid in coffee!
Weight gain. The fight or flight response, as mentioned above, releases cortisol into our blood stream. High levels of cortisol will cause our body to store fat in our stomach.
Feeling low. The hormone ‘Serotonin’ that sends happy signals to the brain, is produced in our gut. When we have coffee on an empty stomach, it then decreases ability to produce this hormone. Why not add some coconut oil to your coffee? The fats in coconut oil help increase your metabolism at the same time as releasing a slower effect of caffeine into your blood stream. Perfect for those slow metabolisers. Also if your feeling that low, why don’t you swap your coffee to Matcha green tea for a while. Matcha Green tea contains L theanine which helps us focus, calm and alert.
Caffeine suppresses hunger. Do you eat breakfast in the morning? If not and you live off coffee, it is time to change your mindset. Not having breakfast within an hour of rising, will lead to insulin resistance. This is where your body will store your next meal as fat on your body. If you have no appetite try a nutri bullet smoothie with almond milk, water, banana, natural protein powder, oats first thing in morning then have your coffee later. Protein is great for transporting hormones. Nutristrength is a great protein brand.
Increase green leafy veggies – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Swiss chard, and spinach all help speed up your metabolism of caffeine. These veggies also help liver detoxification pathway and help filter hormones.
L theanine & Lemonbalm – helps calm down the caffeine hit. There is a great brand by Viridian.
Hows your digestion - Coffee has a digestive effect, and someone with a sensitive stomach, will notice they immediately need the toilet. This is because the coffee activates a nerve in the stomach that causes it to dump its contents into the intestines. This can affect our intestines and its sensitivity. If this is you, I would possibly consider a good probiotic probably from Optibac to help restore your gut flora.
Fancy a coffee....I would say if you really fancy it, don’t deprive yourself but if you have PCOS, Endometriosis, PMS, Thyroid issues or any other hormonal imbalances then you may have to go through a healing stage where you may have to stay away from coffee for a while. For those with a history of hormonal imbalances, It is something I would only recommend as a good treat.
A nice balanced coffee
One cup of froth almond or coconut milk
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
1/3 tsp of cardamom
Cacao is full of antioxidants. So, why not try adding a heap spoonful to your coffee every time you fancy a chocolate kick.
A great place to go in London for your chocolate guilt free choice and coffee, with the most amazing coconut milk is Rabot 1745, based in London Bridge
1. Coffee and hormones, walsh
2. Caffeine stimulation of cortisol secretion in waking hours, Pubmd, Psychosom Med 2008
3. Stress and the HPA access, Alcohol Res, 2012