Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cutting coffee

Is coffee good for you? Is it bad for you? The debate rages on amongst nutritionists, doctors, scientists, and coffee shop owners... and especially office workers who look forward to their morning brew the way emphysema patients look forward to their next breath. 

There have been reputable studies done that suggest coffee is a great way to fend off Type 2 Diabetes as well as several types of cancer because it's chock full of antioxidants, yet there are others that show coffee can lead to insomnia, adrenal burnout, and even osteoporosis. So what's a Starbucks fiend to do? 

Whether or not you drink coffee, and how much and why, should be reasoned on an individual, personal level. Human physiology is complicated and individuals are affected differently by different substances. Does coffee give you the jitters, or heartburn, or intense euphoria? Then you should probably stop drinking it. Pretty simple. Does it help you wake up without giving you weird side effects and, if so, are you're self-disciplined enough to stick to just one or two (8 oz) cups a day? Then go ahead and enjoy your drink, knowing it might even be preventing you from getting colon cancer. 

Since my university days I've had a love-hate relationship with coffee because I've found that it's caused me several unhappy health problems but also given me that well known pep in my step. At the moment, I'll admit it, I'm addicted. I have a problem. 

For the last couple of months, I've been waking up each morning with the first thought being of how good I'll feel once I've had at least one cup of dark roast, and I sometimes go to bed at night excited at the thought of the creamy bitterness I'll get to enjoy again the next day. There's just nothing else on earth quite like a cup of hot coffee, especially when enjoyed with a friend. 

But as of today, I've decided to give up the black bean again, for about the tenth time in my life. This time I've decided to do it for four specific and important reasons:
  1. It's messing with my blood sugar – keeping my hunger at bay until I suddenly crash – which is making it more difficult to plan and anticipate meals as I continue my vegetarian diet adventure. The fact is, caffeine is a stimulant, not a nutrient, and in my case, it causes more negative than positive effects on my body and mind. 
  2. I'm addicted to caffeine and I don't like the idea of being addicted to anything (whether physically or psychologically), especially since I tend to binge, whether on caffeine or TV or anything else that's easy to over-do. Lately I've been having two or even three cups per day, which is way too much for me. 
  3. Coffee is particularly bad for people with sensitive bladders and I have an incredibly sensitive bladder because of a condition known as Interstitial Cystitis. I really need to cut the coffee to give my bladder a chance to heal.
  4. I'm recovering from a back injury, and since drinking coffee causes the stress hormone cortisol to increase, I know coffee isn't doing much to help the healing process in this instance either. 

Today is Easter Sunday, a symbolic day of renewal and rebirth. 

I figure it's a good day to start a healthy habit, and for me, that's going to be drinking herbal tea and other coffee substitutes instead of caffeinated beverages. If you want to join me, here are five steps to giving up coffee that I think will be quite useful. 

And if you need another 10 reasons to give up coffee, Dr. Mark Hyman, is a great resource for scientifically proven motivation and practical advice on avoiding withdrawal symptoms while you're weaning yourself off the caffeine bean. 

How addicted are you to caffeine? Take this quick quiz to find out.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
No Meat For Six Months
You Owe The World Your Health

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