National Caffeine Month

This month is also National Caffeine Awareness Month. Did you know that 75% of Australians drink at least one cup of coffee per day? 28% of those people drink more than 1 cup per day. Scarily, 1 in 4 coffee drinkers say they cannot survive without it, with the most affected generations being the younger generation (Gen X 30% & Gen Y 33%). Perhaps this follows their love for energy drinks? One study observing the association between energy drink consumption and the use of alcohol and illicit drugs among young Australian adults reported that 48% of participants consumed at least one energy drink per month, with participants consuming an average of 1.3 drinks per day. This is particularly alarming as energy drinks can contain up to 80ml of caffeine per 250ml. Most energy drinks are much larger than 250ml, resulting in teenagers and young adults consuming enough caffeine to cause heart palpitations. To put it into perspective, a can of Coke contains 36ml.

To be fair, there are many health benefits that accompany the consumption of caffeine, among them, increased alertness, improved brain function, improved athletic performance, high antioxidant content and reduction in risk of forming Alzheimer's Disease and dementia.

But at what cost?

A group of 96 men and women were studied for their cortisol response post caffeine consumption. They began by abstaining from caffeine altogether for 5 days, then abstained from consuming dietary caffeine and were instead given capsules containing a range of caffeine amounts from 0mg - 600mg to take at allocated times during the day. The group who had abstained from caffeine for 5 days showed a robust increase in cortisol production post caffeine consumption. Cortisol is a stress hormone, normally released during fight or flight incidences. Cortisol is also responsible for depositing fat around the belly - it's your body's natural response to protect its vital organs. The sustained or constant release is 1 element of chronic fatigue and burnout.

Interestingly, the group who had not abstained from caffeine showed a dulled cortisol response. This is not a good thing though. Caffeine has been consumed for centuries, at low doses, infrequently. It has likely served its purpose, achieving the consumer a higher state of awareness for a short period of time. Then not been consumed again for months. The constant consumption of which leads to adrenal fatigue. In this state, your adrenal glands are exhausted and cannot make cortisol or adrenaline when needed. They then have difficulty regulating your blood pressure, metabolism and immune system. 

Think about it like this - each day you start with 100% energy (hear me out, I know you're probably laughing at me right now) but you've had a stressful day at work that's left you feeling drained and you still have to take the kids to 700 after school activities and then make dinner, so you decide to grab a coffee. In essence, you're borrowing 2% of tomorrow's energy for today. Then because you had coffee so late, you don't sleep well and wake up feeling another 3% down. So that's 5% less energy for today. This cycle continues regularly enough that you eventually move to having a morning coffee every day to get you started. About 30% of you will increase that to 2 or more cups per day. Thus perpetuating the cycle of fatigue, consumption and addiction.

This is why we insist on abstaining from caffeine during a cleanse. It gives your adrenal glands an opportunity to recover and gives you the opportunity to assess your potential habit. The abstinence from caffeine during my first juice cleanse was a veryrude awakening as to just how addicted I was! I was consuming 1-2 cups per day (and by 'cup' I mean a medium or large size from the local café. The large size often being consumed in the afternoon). I experienced migraine-like headaches from withdrawals and I was super cranky! I even caved in and got a decaf thinking that would suffice and when it most certainly did not I freaking cracked it (imagine an adult tantrum). This was an eye-opening experience for me. I now still have a medium coffee every day, but as I make it at home I can choose to use 75% decaf grounds and make it with a combination of soy milk and coconut cream, the fat from which helps slow the absorption so I don't feel a sudden 'hit', it's a more sustained release. 

Cleansing is a perfect time to re-evaluate the food and beverage habits that we want to allow to control us. Each of us will have our own limits. I highly recommend taking the time to do a cleanse of at least 3 days to allow the body to do its magic thing and show you how life can be without drugs (food, beverage or otherwise)!

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