Updated: Sep 1
Wondering if your morning cup of joe is helping your health or hurting it? You're not alone. Americans are drinking more coffee than ever (and they are also more stressed than ever- coincidence? I think not!)
I'm definitely not here to say that coffee is bad for your health- in fact, it has many health benefits (in the correct amounts). But just like any other food, we are all bio-individual & have different health needs. Something that is beneficial for one person may not benefit another. If you experience high levels of stress/anxiety, hormonal issues, or you are struggling to sleep, coffee can potentially cause more harm than good.
Coffee is amazing- it can make you feel on top of the world! But, there are also some not-so-desirable side effects, including:
Potential pesticide exposure (if you're not drinking organic coffee)
Adrenal fatigue or other adrenal health issues
Trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep
I'm not here to tell you to quit caffeine entirely (but if you can, that's even better!)-I sure haven't. But, cutting back on coffee or switching to tea can promote many health benefits and support your hormonal health.
Here's a few reasons why I quit drinking coffee and switched to tea, and how to wean off coffee if you think that's a good option for you.
A cup of coffee has approximately 95 mg of caffeine, while a cup of black tea only has 47 mg. So, you're getting about half the caffeine when you switch to tea. Besides the caffeine count, most people don't realize that there are many phytochemicals classified as caffeine. Coffee has 5 phytochemicals, and all 5 of them affect the nervous system, causing jitters, racing heart and nausea. That's why you get an energy spike from coffee (and often, a crash a couple of hours later- resulting in the need for more coffee!)
On the other hand, tea only has 3 phytochemicals which stimulate the adrenal glands and the thyroid. This is why tea is shown to increase metabolism, and it has a mood boosting effect as it wakes up the body. Tea also has theanine, which makes the body metabolize the caffeine more slowly. This results in longer, sustained energy with less of a crash.
Tl;dr: the types of caffeine in coffee and tea are not the same and they affect the body differently.
2. Coffee can exacerbate stress + anxiety
If you suffer from high levels or stress or anxiety, you might think that coffee can help you stay more alert and be more focused. However, as mentioned above, the caffeine in coffee affects your body differently and can exacerbate stress levels and anxiety. Drinking tea instead can help with energy and focus, without the jitters.
3. Coffee impacts your sleep
Coffee can impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Coffee has a half life, and depending on your metabolism, can stay in your system up to 10 hours or more. Certain people can drink a cup of coffee and go to bed (I have NEVER understood this!), but many of us will feel wired and might not be able to fall asleep or stay asleep when we drink coffee, especially later in the day. You'd be surprised how many people quit coffee (or switch to just having 1 cup in the AM) and report the amazing changes in their sleep!
Weaning off coffee
So, you're ready to quit coffee, huh? (Or reduce your coffee consumption). I'm not going to lie- it wasn't easy for me. As someone who loves my morning beverage ritual, it was really tough for me to wean off coffee. Even after I adjusted to lowering my caffeine consumption, I still craved the TASTE of coffee for months. Here's a few suggestions I have if you're looking to quit (or reduce) coffee:
1. Start slow.
Give your body time to adjust. If you drink more than 1 cup per day, you'll likely have coffee withdrawal symptoms for a few days at least. Try lowering your consumption incrementally over a couple of weeks and try half-caf alternatives.
2. Give yourself a caffeine cutoff.
Ideally 10am. This helps to reset your natural circadian rhythms. Switch to decaf coffee after lunch, or a low-caffeine tea (like green tea or oolong). If you are used to drinking coffee later in the day, start incrementally pushing up your caffeine cutoff by 1 hour every few days to give your body time to adjust.
3. Find a new beverage that you LOVE.
This was a big one for me. If you're big on habits and rituals like I am, cutting out coffee can mess with your routine. Find something else you love that you can replace it with. Here's a few of my morning beverages of choice that use tea:
Matcha latte (matcha power with non diary milk and sweetened with monk fruit, honey, stevia, or maple syrup)
London Fog (earl grey tea with non-dairy milk)
Chai latte (chai tea with non-dairy milk)
Or try many of the caffeine-free coffee alternative teas out there (I love Teeccino- you can find them online or at HEB or Sprouts).
4. Incorporate energizing herbs & adaptogens into your diet
There are many herbs & adaptogens that promote energy but have zero caffeine. Try looking into the following:
Maca root powder- I take this every day!
Coffee can be good for you, in the right amounts. For some people, coffee can cause more harm than good. Try to lower your caffeine consumption and consider switching to tea. Incorporate energizing herbs & adaptogens into your diet to help keep your energy and focus up.