One of the questions that kept popping up was about detoxing from caffeine. There is no easy way to go about it, but that is really just all the more reason to try. See, a cup of coffee once in a while is a delicious and enjoyable treat. As soon as you have to start relying on it just to drag your bottom into your day, well then it becomes a little more problematic.
Ideally, with this whole healthy living thing we’ve got going on here, we want to do our best to not have to rely on any substance except maybe fresh food, water, sunshine and a little fresh air to function. Just like it’s not ideal to be chained to a medication to function okay, we also wouldn’t want to be chained to a voluntary substance like coffee, or sugar for that matter.
Now, moderate amounts of caffeine, in a relaxed setting and when in fine and dandy health, is no problem. This, however, is not how most of us are drinking it, and many of us, if under any kind of stress, become even more sensitive to it. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Caffeine has a half life of 4-6 hours, which means it is kicking around in there a long time. It affects the functioning of a whole cocktail of hormones including:
- Adenosine- Inhibits absorption of adenosine, a hormone that helps calm the body. This is in part why we feel alert in the short term, but causes sleep problems later on.
- Adrenaline- Oh this hormone that fuels our workforce! Caffeine injects adrenaline into our system, offering a temporary boost, but what goes up, must come down and it can cause us to feel fatigued and depressed later. What do we do then? Grab a second cup. In-taking more caffeine to counteract these effects leaves us feeling agitated and edgy.
- Cortisol- The “stress hormone” that is supposed to help us cope with long term chronic stress gets played out with caffeine consumption. Elevated cortisol is associated with weight gain, moodiness and over the long run it has been associated with heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
- Dopamine- Dopamine is a feel good hormone, and caffeine increases its levels in the bod, acting in a way similar to amphetamines. Unfortunately, once it wears off, we are left feeling rather low, and can also lead to a physical dependance.
Caffeine can affect sleep by keeping us awake longer, allowing us less time for those all mighty restorative deep sleep cycles. This in turn affects levels of alertness the next day and there we are in the caffeine dependence cycle.
Increased levels of cortisol lead to crazy cravings for caffeine, fat and carbohydrates, and cause the body to store fat in the belly, which we know carries with it greater health risks.
If caffeine elevates levels of cortisol and other hormones for a temporary boost, after caffeine wears off, we feel fatigued and feelings of mild to moderate depression can set in. This then makes keeping active more difficult.
Caffeine and Stress
Because caffeine and stress can both elevate cortisol levels, high amounts of caffeine (or stress) can lead to the negative health effects associated with prolonged elevated levels of cortisol. If you ingest high levels of caffeine, you may feel your mood soar and plummet, leaving you craving more caffeine. A slippery slope.
Now does this mean you have to give up your occasional weekend latte or what have you? No. Not yet at least. You can have that. You just don’t want to have to depend on it.
Do I drink coffee? Nope. Not in seven years (wow, does time fly). I’ve been known to throw a few coffee beans into a frosty smoothie for flavour, but a whole cup? Wowsers, I would be climbing up the walls.
I have a few alternative lattes that I love to bits. They all have the same base of vanilla and honey sweetened hemp milk. I love using hemp as my milk as if you blend it long enough, it just blends right in without needing to strain it.
But here is my recipe for my ultimate morning Chocolatte and My Chico-Latte. Please keep in mind that for this, I am using raw chocolate which has only trace amounts of caffeine as compared to roasted cocoa.
(Makes 2 servings- of which I drink both)
2 Tbs raw cacao
1-2 tsp raw honey
2 Tbs hemp seeds
1 tsp vanilla bean powder or a few drops of vanilla extract
3 cups of water
- Bring your water to the hot drinking temperature you like
- In a high powered blender, blend all ingredients together
Note: if your blender can’t do hot liquids, blend together a small amount of water, hemp, vanilla and cacao. Then add your boiling water.
Chicory is naturally bitter which makes it a great coffee replacement. Check your local health food store for a coffee alternative blend that will usually include chicory, dandelion root, maybe some carob and perhaps some roasted barley.
Use directions above but replace raw cacao with 2 tsp of coffee replacement or as directed on the package.
Now, there is another extra, super favourite morning bevy that I can’t wait to share with you but I have yet to find a source for it in Canada. I am back down in California this week so I am hoping to bring some back with me. Oh... wait for that!
Here are some of my other fave warming bevvy recipes:
Question Of The Day: What beverage warms you to your toes on these chilly mornings?