The warm weather is here at last in the UK and following on from May’s blog on the importance of drinking thirst quenching, rehydrating water, I though it would be a good time to discuss eliminating or at least cutting down on some less than healthy hot drinks, namely coffee.
I’ve just returned from Paris, which has to be somewhere guaranteed to see people indulging in breakfast, mid morning and after dinner coffees. We’re talking serious coffee drinkers here. Coffee was introduced to the Parisiens in the 1600s and has certainly become ingrained in their pavement and café culture over the last few centuries along with smoking. Coffee drinking in public has acquired a badge of respectability that has spread to the UK where it has increased dramatically in the last decade. The latest Mintel report gauged 2012 the year in which the UK retail coffee market broke the £1 billion barrier (still only half that of the French).
There is definitely something enticing about that dark sumptuous liquid with the caramel froth on top. It is a rare day now that I have a coffee, the reasons for which I will explain, but yes I did indulge in the dark liquid whilst in Paris. As I only drink coffee on very, very special occasions (we’re talking counts on one hand here, in a year), it was interesting to note the drug effect. I definitely felt jittery, a little anxious and yes more awake (part of the reason that Dr Mercola only recommends drinking coffee as a prop to get over jetlag and move sleep into the correct time zone). I had an urge to go to the toilet, a reason many coffee drinkers have a morning stimulating cup! I have also had heart palpitations after drinking it in the past.
Of course the millions of daily coffee drinkers will no longer feel the effects of the drug (caffeine) in coffee as keenly as this, needing more and more to get the desired effect of either the artificial ‘awake’ or ‘energy filled’ feeling. Coffee is a stimulant that many people become addicted to and end up needing to get them through the day to artificially boost their energy levels. How many times have you heard someone say ‘oh, I just can’t start my day and get going without a coffee’.
Coffee is a diuretic and contains the highest amount of caffeine out of all the hot drinks people consume on a daily basis. Caffeine levels in coffee, depending on strength, range from 60mg to 170mg per cup. Drinking several cups of coffee a day is going to place an enormous metabolic burden on the body as the caffeine stimulates the adrenals. The adrenals play a vital role in our overall health, in fact the jittery anxious feeling I get when I have coffee is the adrenals reacting to the caffeine. The stimulation of the adrenals after a heavy meal and alcohol is therefore very enticing.
It is interesting to note that in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the kidneys and adrenals, (which sit on top of the kidneys and are considered very much a part of the kidneys in TCM), and are represented by the water element with the key traits of fear and anxiety demonstrating their mind-body link. Of course fear is part of our survival instinct and makes us react in dangerous situations, however an abnormal amount of this emotion reflects an imbalance in the body seated in the kidneys/adrenals.
How our body manages the water to the vital organs, especially the kidneys is our operative system for survival in fight or flight situations. If we are constantly stimulating our adrenals we are on a permanent fight or flight response mechanism, which has all sorts of long term health consequences. The hormones released from the adrenals to help the body react in a dangerous situation at the same time stop the body’s less vital life survival systems like digestion. This is fine in the short term if we are fighting a sabre tooth tiger but it is not great to have this body state switched on permanently, a common state of modern day life. High cortisol levels are linked to a whole host of modern day degenerative diseases including chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. High cortisol levels are also linked to obesity as blood sugar levels and fluid levels cannot regulate themselves normally.
Though I drink coffee infrequently I do love to use it in enemas, as the way the coffee is processed by the body is quite different to drinking it. The pharmacologically active part of the coffee is absorbed into the haemorrhoidal vein within the colon and is transported through the portal system to the liver where it creates a contraction and squeezing out of the toxic bile. This process has a strong clearing effect on the liver enabling it to perform its detoxification role more efficiently.
Coffee is also known to disrupt absorption of some vitamins and minerals essential for your body to function properly and heavy caffeine drinking can in fact be a sign of mineral imbalance. Coffee interferes with your body’s ability to use folate, and vitamins B12 and B6. Your body needs these nutrients in order to keep your homocysteine levels within the healthy range. High homocysteine levels are also associated with heart disease, damaged blood vessels, high cholesterol levels and risk of stroke. It’s not looking good for coffee is it? On top of that, some of our less than healthy food and drink choices at least offer some nutrition in return; alas coffee is not one of them with no nutritional benefit to the body whatsoever.
For those that are pregnant I would advise extreme caution, I know doctors tend to be quite relaxed and say a low level of coffee drinking is fine. A decade long study in Norway showed expectant mothers drinking 2 cups a day were at much greater risk of low weight babies and a prolonged labour.
There are probably many of you thinking about switching to decaffeinated coffee or in fact already drink it thinking they are making a healthier choice, tests performed by the University of Florida found 8 out of 9 decaffeinated coffees still contained caffeine ranging from 8.6 milligrams to 13.9 milligrams, in truth they are actually reduced-caffeine beverages and can also contain cancer-causing chemicals used in the decaffeinating process.
It’s always worth looking at anything in your diet that you consume a lot of and consider removing it for a period of time. Too much of anything is not a great idea. Why not try a two-week break and see how you feel. The more of a metabolic burden it is placing on your body then the more symptoms and the more severe they will be when you remove the coffee drinking. If you still feel excessively tired and headachy after 2 weeks then this is a real warning sign that the coffee is being used as a prop to your diminished health. Though not recognized by many, genuine energy levels without any stimulants, are the main indicator of the state of your health.
Why not try introducing some other new beverages instead like Rooibos Tea, a full flavoured popular replacement to coffee. If you still want caffeine but in lower levels, try green tea as it also contains catechins, super powerful antioxidants.
I for one am going to stick to my occasional holiday espresso and putting my weekly coffee in my enema bag.
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5 reasons to detox using a coffee enema, including how coffee enemas have the power to reduce systemic toxicity by up to 700%:
Type 2 diabetics need to be especially cautious:
Risk to expectant mothers and their babies:
The caffeine and cancer-causing agents in ‘decaffeinated’ coffee: