Let me start off by telling you this: coffee is not the enemy. I’m a big fan of coffee myself, and it’s usually a part of my morning routine.
But there are times when coffee is not so good, and that includes times of stress.
When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands (little organs that sit above your kidneys) produce cortisol, which is kinda known as our ‘stress hormone’. Cortisol is a good guy, and is produced to help your body cope with the stress you’re experiencing. So it pretty much makes your body more resistant to stress. Sounds good, right?
The issue with this is that for our ancestors, stress was generally acute – meaning it didn’t last too long. Cortisol might have been produced when faced with a dangerous animal in the wild, but once that situation was resolved then cortisol levels could return to normal.
These days though, we have work deadlines and houses to clean and husbands and children who need our help on top of everything else we’re doing. We’re trying to be superwoman and do it all, but our adrenal glands are suffering as a result.
When stress is constant, or chronic, your adrenal glands are producing a lot of cortisol to keep up with all that stress. And when it goes on for too long, your adrenal glands can actually become exhausted, and begin to under-function. You might have heard of the term ‘adrenal fatigue’ before, and that’s exactly what happens. Your stress levels are high, you’re producing lots of cortisol to cope with it all, and then eventually your adrenal glands get ‘worn out’ and they can’t keep up with the cortisol production any more. So your stress is probably still high, but all of a sudden you don’t have any resistance to that stress (because your cortisol isn’t being produced in high amounts anymore), and you’ll start to really struggle to keep going with your daily life in the same way you were before.
Got it? Cool. Now what does all that have to do with coffee?
The important thing is that we need to look after our adrenal glands, by reducing our stress levels, getting outside as much as possible (being outside naturally lowers our cortisol levels), and…. *drumroll please*….. laying off the coffee.
Coffee stimulates the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands, so when you’re stressed and cortisol levels are already high, and your adrenal glands are already tired, coffee is just adding to the problem.
So in times of high stress, while you might tend to reach for more coffee each day, what your body really needs is less coffee. Less stimulants. Less stress and less strain on your adrenal glands.
Tip: Try substituting coffee with herbal tea. Licorice tea is actually nourishing for your adrenal glands, so that’s a great option. Calming teas like chamomile, lemon balm and lavender will help relax your nervous system and lower stress levels.
Top tip: If you love the flavour of coffee like me, try BonVit Dandelion Root Blend. It’s a combination of Dandelion Root and Chicory Root, and I find it quite similar in taste to coffee. I have it with my frothed milk, just like a coffee, and really enjoy it! You can get it from health food stores or online. Dandelion root is great for your liver and gallbladder, and can help to stimulate stomach acid production and keep your bowels regular. Win-win!
Bottom line: if you’re feeling stressed, and reaching for the coffee to help get you through, try to find a substitute. Wearing out your adrenal glands with coffee is only going to make it harder to cope with the stress anyway, and if you do get to the point of ‘adrenal fatigue’, it’s a long journey back to optimal health from there. Best to prevent it by keeping your adrenal glands happy in any way you can.