A Visual View of Caffeine

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist July 5, 2012

Take a close look at the picture above.

Does this look friendly to you?   Think with your gut – literally.

Is this something that you think your body would welcome if you consumed it frequently and in large quantities?

Do you think this would be health promoting in any way?

Caffeine is a Plant Pesticide

Even without knowing a single thing about caffeine, it is abundantly clear by simply looking at this astonishing electron micrograph of caffeine crystals that this substance is very likely a toxin to the body. These insidious crystals are found in varying quantities in the leaves, seeds, and even the fruit of some plants and guess for what purpose?

To stun, paralyze, and even kill insects that feed on the plant for food.

In short, caffeine is a natural pesticide.  It is certainly not on the toxic magnitude, of say, Monsanto’s Roundup, but it is a pesticide just the same.

If insects are instinctively smart enough to avoid plants containing caffeine to ensure their own survival, don’t you think you probably should avoid it too?

Caffeine Increases Stomach Acid Levels

Let’s think about what happens when you consume caffeine.

Caffeine increases stomach acid production.  While this is not necessarily a bad thing if you just ate, it can cause problems over time if excessive stomach acid becomes a constant feature of your personal biochemistry.

Acid reflux (GERD) is one symptom of imbalanced stomach acid levels and Prilosec, the over the counter medication for this condition is one of the most popular drugs stolen by organized retail crime (ORC) rings – indirect but telling evidence of the widespread nature of reflux problems today.

Could the reflux epidemic be associated with all those Starbucks and Red Bulls folks are consuming?  Remember the gal who recently put herself in the ER by drinking too many 5 Hour Energy Shots?

The high demand and dependence on PPI drugs (proton pump inhibitors) like Prilosec or a 24 hour drug like Nexium does not come without a heavy price!

Undesired weight gain is one of the associative side effects of long term treatment with PPI drugs as reported and published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology.

Once on the purple pill, always on the purple pill.  The outlook is bleak and a ballooning backside is on the horizon unless you take charge and make some changes – losing the caffeine being Job #1.

Caffeine Whacks the Adrenals

Even folks who are seriously health conscious seem to have trouble shaking the caffeine habit which never ceases to surprise me.   Those who eat low carb seem to be particularly devoted to caffeine perhaps because caffeine stimulates the liver to release sugar into the bloodstream – in essence, a way to get carbs without actually eating them.

Don’t forget about the 5 Hour Energy Shot junkie who ended up in the ER.  Let the lesson ring clear.  Her liver started to shut down from all that caffeine because she was drinking about 10 of those suckers per day for 2 weeks straight!

I know several people on a first name basis who are not far behind that insane level of caffeine consumption and I’m sure you do too.  Just because it doesn’t put you in the ER doesn’t mean it’s not hurting you badly.

One thing’s for sure.  If your diet is making you so tired that you need caffeine to indirectly boost your blood sugar and artificially stimulate your adrenals, you’ve got a problem and the diet you’re following is clearly not optimal for you.  Time to do some tweaking my health conscious friends!

C’mon.  You know a big plate of sprouted waffles would be totally, rockin’ AWESOME.

There’s no doubt a plate of sprouted waffles – YES – even every single morning would be a more healthful habit than that coffee addiction.   Don’t fool yourself and rob Peter to pay Paul.

Frequent stimulation of the adrenal glands from caffeine eventually leads to adrenal exhaustion whether this be at age 20 or age 60.  If you’ve been drinking coffee for years and think you are “just fine thank you”, think again.  Feeling bone tired and not being able to get off the couch to do much of anything could be just around the corner as hormonal problems can strike suddenly and seemingly out of the blue (just ask any menopausal woman).  It is the sleeping giant you best not ignore.

Other symptoms of adrenal exhaustion include lack of physical endurance and stamina, weight gain, reduced ability to handle stress, impairment of calcium absorption, and depression of immunity.

Probably most worrisome is the blood sugar issues caffeine exacerbates as mentioned earlier. Caffeine stimulates the liver to release stored sugars into the bloodstream which then has an effect on the body’s overall ability to regulate blood sugar levels.

The hormonal system requires such a delicate balance that caffeine’s negative effect on the adrenals can’t help but create hormonal challenges in the body over time.   Dr. Bruce Rind MD, a holistic endocrinologist notes that the health of the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands are inextricably linked.   If one goes south, the other one probably will too.

So the next time you reach for that cup of joe, chocolate bar, espresso, or energy drink, think about the picture above with all the spikes and points and imagine what this plant pesticide is really doing to your insides.

Ouch!

 

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

 

Comments (124)

    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Coffee does have some antioxidants but so do a lot of other foods that don’t have caffeine in them. My recommendation if you desire optimal health is to lose the coffee. The few benefits of the antioxidants in coffee are not worth the risk to your overall hormonal and digestive health.
      Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: A Visual View of Caffeine

      Reply
      • There have been very specific studies showing that moderate coffee intake (3-4 cups per day) that have protective mechanisms against Alzheimer’s, depression, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Antioxidants themselves do not have any effect, or not one as large as this. While short term studies on coffee and caffeine may show a negative effect on one system or another, the long term studies show mostly positive effects.

        I drink about 2-3 cups per day, and drink virtually all of my hot coffee with coconut oil, which is also mentally protective. I Also have a history of mental “interestingness,” so my health goal is focused on good mental health.

        I think coffee, especially used as a pick me up, can be detrimental to some people, but also believe that it is an individual’s own health and health goals that determine their intake. There are many people that have to cut gluten or milk from their diet, and others (like yourself) that thrive on those substances. To each their own best health.

        Reply
  1. Love your blog, but disagree with you on this one. Newer studies have shown that coffee may have benefits, such as protecting against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver cancer. And it has a high content of antioxidants. Also, people who drink coffee appear to have less strokes than people who don’t.

    I believe coffee has many benefits as long as it’s not overdone. Once again, like many things in life, moderation is the key.

    Reply
    • I’m with you on that! And just listening to your body and how you react to caffine you will know when to stop. I personally react during the 2nd cup, my tongue starts to feel coated and it no longer has the flavor and appeal.

      Reply
    • Tina, don’t forget that this blog’s advice is not based on actual scientific theory, but on her opinion. She thinks she is correctly analyzing scientific studies, but she’s so far off it’s very comical for people who actually know a bit about biology/anatomy/nutrition. Did you read the “How I fixed my son’s cavity” blog? Much of the advice she gives is dangerous, as it seems there are actually people that believe what she says.

      Reply
  2. Caffeine only negatively affects blood sugar if you have a large amount of free fatty acids, from consuming unsaturated oils and PUFA. PUFA block glycolysis, my blocking glucose from entering the cell.

    My Point: Say you add coconut oil to your coffee, glycogen is released from the liver, glycolysis occurs in the mitochondria creating energy and increasing metabolic rate. BOOM! Caffeine good in that sense.

    But, yes the fact is people are drinking coffee with soybean and canola oils, gluten/wheat products and the like making caffeine “bad”.

    Add coconut oil, raw milk, a pinch of sugar, and you have the perfect cup of coffee!
    Nick\’s last post: Spicy Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp Skewers

    Reply
    • This is the key, problem I have with people like Sarah, it’s an electron micrograph that is falsed colored. Of course it looks strange all things when looked that close look strange, even less importantly it is a caffeine crystal which is in the solid state. That being said, there is no reason that what ever the caffiene crystal structure looks like that can tell you if it is bad for you or good for you.
      Just more scaremongering.
      Get a MSc in electron micrography then show me pictures and tell me what they mean.
      Otherwise back off, stick to facts and stop trying to play on my emotions.

      Reply
      • I’m not sure why you read the blog if you don’t like it/her. You can disagree, but what is the point of following the blog – only to scrutinize her? If you generally agree with Sarah, or “people like her”; but disagree with something here or there, it makes sense to voice that and have an interactive conversation. However, to follow her in order to scrutinize her, I personally find disrespectful. It seems more productive and positive to join in a conversation that you prefer to be a part of ~ to be a part of something you’re for instead of against.

        Reply
        • love most of what sarah has to say, but i have to agree with steve on the one point that introducing the story with a false-colored micrograph of caffeine is a bit odd — under the electron microscope things tend to look totally weird and creepy and am not sure how it helps sarah make her case. the crystals would be dissolved in water anyway, so they’re not going to look like that when consumed.

          in any case, personally caffeine makes me feel crazy – profuse sweating, diarrhea, the inability to focus, etc etc. needless to say i have never been a habitual coffee drinker. it doesn’t work for me but i know people, like my 97 and 94 year old grandpa and grandma, who have been drinking coffee for probably 70+ years. they have no cognitive issues, mentally sharp at such old ages, and have outlived all of their friends and family. anecdotal evidence, though, not enough to say it’s good or bad in general… i applaud those who have the tenacity to give up caffeine! it’s so difficult, like any addictive substance!

          Reply
          • I love Sarah’s blog- one of my favorite places on the web- but I’m with Steve on this one. Good grief! There are many beneficial, healthy substances that would look worse under a microscope. Have you ever checked out beneficial bacteria?

            I’m not saying her view on coffee drinking is wrong, but basing it on an electron microscope image seems really strange. I can hear my husband reasoning me away on that one! :)…

    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Coffee enemas can be very helpful for detoxification especially for cancer patients. Dr. Gonzalez in NYC uses them in his holistic cancer treatment protocol from what I learned at the 2010 Wise Traditions Conference. If you want to use them at home, you may wish to consult with a holistic practicioner about it first.
      Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: A Visual View of Caffeine

      Reply
  3. Generally speaking every plant has some sort of a defense against pests. Some great points in this article but I definitely think that it’s a bit over thought. If you were to analyze every plant like this, we would have nothing to eat.

    Reply
    • Electron microscope pictures of crystals tell us almost nothing about how the compound behaves in solution, with other compounds, or in our bodies. If it did we could look at electron microscope pictures of all compounds and foods and determine how bad, good, or indifferent for us.

      My feeling is that starting an argument from an inaccurate emotional position only taints the rest of your argument with the brush of “I am going to reject this ugly thing with more insults and closed minded statements because it’s ugly and has no beauty.”

      Please give your readers more credit.

      Reply
      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        Did I claim that the picture was the end all and be all of the argument? No. I just said take a look and make the call just on the picture alone. When you combine the unsettling nature of the picture with all the known health negatives of caffeine .. the disruptive nature of it to the body’s blood sugar being a big one, then it is an easy call to get off this plant pesticide.

        A few antioxidants in coffee or chocolate in no way overcome the huge downside to consuming caffeine on a regular basis.
        Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: A Visual View of Caffeine

        Reply
        • Sarah, quinoa has a very potent natural pesticide coating also, yet it’s a very healthy seed/grain. They tried to alter quinoa crops to reduce or eliminate the saponin (the natural pesticide) and the crops ended up being decimated by birds!

          Your logic is flawed. I agree with the others. In moderation, coffee is NOT harmful. I have 1-2 cups daily and have NEVER had one bout of acid reflux/heartburn. When I went on a 21 day juice fast, I stopped drinking coffee and had no problems. I had a mild heachache for about an hour on day 2 and that was it. I drink coffee (black) because I love the taste of a rich Italian or French roast. I only drink it in the morning and then consume no other caffeine loaded food or drink for the rest of the day.

          The photo?…..just a silly attention getter!

          Reply
        • You didn’t claim the picture was the “end all and be all” of the argument, but you did, as Jason says, start the argument from “an inaccurate emotional position”. You then continued with reasonable justifications for avoiding caffeine, but the point is that no one can accurately do as you suggest in your comment, namely “make the call just on the picture alone,” nor can the picture even factor into a reasonable argument for or against caffeine. “Combin[ing] the unsettling nature of the picture” with anything is silly.

          Reply
        • > No. I just said take a look and make the call just on the picture alone.

          Why? What possible good can come of a knee-jerk reaction like this? Hope you don’t judge people and events the way you judge molecules. :(

          Reply
  4. Looks amazing! Caffeine is made “bad” by eating foods that inhibit thyroid function and mitochondrial respiration/glycolysis.

    Green tea is one of those foods that may have many antioxidants, but contains other phytochemicals that “can” cause a lowering of metabolic function. I choose coffee with raw milk, coconut oil, gelatin, and sugar over green tea any day!

    I want that photo as a poster!

    Reply
  5. An interesting view on caffeine… (and the picture is super pretty). Nice post, thank you! *Shared*.

    I’m not sure it’s this simple but excessive (a relative term) consumption of isolated, added caffeine is probably not a great choice for those seeking optimal health and wellness – for the reasons Sarah explains here. Caffeine intake from quality, organic, low-toxin or toxin-free coffee or from organic black or green tea, in my opinion, probably does not have the same health risks associated with it for otherwise healthy people, but individual variation and sensitivities must of course always be considered. These beverages may indeed have health benefits that only an individual can assess against risks.

    Reply
  6. Jan Gordon Bookwalter via Facebook July 5, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Looks painful to me. I’ve been caffeine free for 12 years, I never drank coffee, just liked my chocolate.

    Reply
  7. Kati Stiles Carter via Facebook July 5, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Diatomacious Earth also has microscopic pointy edges. And is supposed to be good for your gut because it kills parasites and detoxes. So, if caffeine is as bad as all that, it isn’t necessarily because of the sharp edges shown in this picture.

    Reply
  8. Although I agree with you that caffeine is a lousy thing to put in your body with any regularity, the focus of your first several paragraphs on how scary the caffeine image looks is just silly. Plenty of extraordinarily beneficial substances make scary-looking (for some definition of “scary”) crystals, and the poison hemlock plant, for example, is really quite beautiful. I doubt my spleen is particularly attractive, but I’d rather it be inside me than not.

    Reply
  9. Za Kocher via Facebook July 5, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Bee balm is also a natural insecticide.
    Lavender
    Citrus
    Etc….
    TEN opposed to TWO recommended doses for two weeks…YEAH there’d be problems.
    That picture is actually really pretty and inviting to my artful eyes. It reminds me of the way mint or basil or even grafted trees begin to grow their roots in water.

    Im my opinion, this is probably the poorest of your stories recently.

    Reply
  10. Fascinating, Sarah. Reading this reminded me of Dr. Wright’s prediction of a future epidemic of stomach cancer for the Prilosec generation, in his book Why Stomach Acid is Good for You. It also reminded me of the discussion about other plant toxins like oxalates, another sleeping giant for some people.

    Reply
  11. Every morning I have an iced coffee: 8oz raw milk, 8oz coffee, and ice. I enjoy it so much. I AM VERY sensitive to gluten as well, and I know you wrote an article about that issue. My question is, do you know of any coffee alternatives, because I really enjoy the TASTE of the iced coffee. I don’t really feel dependent upon it for the caffeine, but I may be wrong ;)

    Reply
  12. Sarah, I have never heard of the ‘pesticide’ quality of coffee used before. It is interesting, however, I am also told that coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops (pesticides). So what is the deal with that? Are there certain pests that are immune to the coffee bean? Just curious. I always love your blogs :)

    Reply
  13. Nick and Rachel, I use raw cream when I can get it, but try Wilderness Family Naturals coconut cream in your coffee. It’s rich and full of coconut oil and tastes fabulous. Easy to pack when travelling too as it comes in those “juice box” things. That way I don’t get stuck drinking ultra pastuerized crap cream.

    Reply
  14. LOVE this post and information!

    I gave up caffine cold turkey about a year ago – my body went into shock (severe headaches for about 2 days followed by complete lethergic thinking/processing information).

    Our society pushed caffinated products – its ridiculous! It merely illustrates the lack of understanding of how our body works.
    Amanda@BlindedByTheLight\’s last post: The Best Birth Plan

    Reply
  15. The part of your article that people seem to not be talking about is the GERD or reflux epidemic that is affecting this population. I drink coffee, but in moderation, and listen to my body when I do- and don’t drink it from sources that I don’t know and trust (ie: no Starbucks!).

    I see so many people in my daily work as a nurse, even as young as teenagers with GERD- probably all because of their consumption of those horrible energy drinks that are readily available in school vending machines. But also, adults hooked on sodas and coffee. It’s pretty amazing to listen to people constantly clearing their throats which is an indicator of untreated GERD. The amount of patients I have who take acid blockers seem overwhelming! If the way to health is through the gut, and they are blocking the body’s ability to function normally, what will happen as people get older? I am truly frightened of the the health conditions I am seeing, that I believe are a result of the horrible diet people consume out there, including too much coffee, soda, and energy drinks. And while I may be bit obsessive about my own diet, I am proud to say at the age of 47, I’ve never had one bout of reflux!

    Reply
    • Tina, I hear your sentiments echoed by other nurses who have knowledge of the impact of food on health and who see the staggering levels of health problems mounting all the time.

      Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Jo, thank you for sharing. Women especially need to watch that caffeine. We have so many assaults on our hormone health nowadays … caffeine is one of those that negatively affects us that we can easily control by eliminating it. An occasional cup of coffee if you just love it is certainly no problem, as it is the everyday habit/can’t function until I have my joe every am that is the problem.
      Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: A Visual View of Caffeine

      Reply
  16. “Caffeine increases stomach acid production. While this is not necessarily a bad thing if you just ate, it can cause problems over time if excessive stomach acid becomes a constant feature of your personal biochemistry.

    Acid reflux (GERD) is one symptom of imbalanced stomach acid levels and Prilosec, the over the counter medication for this condition is one of the most popular drugs….”

    Since acid reflux is actually a symptom of lower stomach acid levels (from bacterial overgrowth, etc.), and not excessively high levels, coffee could actually help by increasing stomach acid like you say…

    I’m surprised at the lack of research for this post.

    Reply
  17. Mariah Baseman via Facebook July 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Clicked through some links on your page to the article about your adrenal glands… http://www.tuberose.com/Adrenal_Glands.html
    Wow. It’s like looking in a mirror at my very own sad reflection. I recently cut out my afternoon cup of coffee, and have started making my morning cup very weak. Even then, I don’t seem to finish more than 1/2 of the cup. Maybe my body is telling me something here.. :)

    Reply
  18. Every time I think I’ve quit coffee, I end up drinking it again! I’m on GAPS and I know I need to quit caffeine.

    Do you think you could do a post on how to quit? (I know you said you never got into drinking coffee, but maybe you have some tips for those of us who can’t seem to shake it.)

    Thank you for all of your blogging awesomeness.

    Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I think the key is not to try and “quit”. I think the key is to learn to use it in moderation. Perhaps you could treat yourself to a cup of coffee on Sunday morning or after a dinner out (which I’m guessing would be occasional for most who eat healthy as cooking at home is the best way to eat on a regular basis).

      I’ve never tried to stop eating chocolate as I do enjoy it. I just allow myself to eat it on a nonhabitual, nonfrequent basis.
      Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: A Visual View of Caffeine

      Reply
      • Sarah, I only use raw cacao powder and make chocolate drinks (shakes, hot cocoa, etc). You can even add to coconut oil and make homemade candy with some stevia added.
        I try not to use cacao everyday, but I do use it several times a week. Is this damaging?

        Reply
  19. @Victoria Althouse, thanks for the article on Green Tea. There are just as many publications on green tea promoting estrogen as there are discussing it’s “potential” benefits. There are beneficial properties in anything, especially when nutrients, etc.. are studied and viewed uni-dimensionally.

    If you look at physiology, especially at the cell level, where everything happens and begins, you can develop a different understanding on how food, environment, etc..impacts our physiology, synergistically!

    Reply
  20. I agree that coffee is bad news. It is an artificial stimulant and it messes with your metabolism and appetite. Thank you Sarah for being brave and tackling this taboo issue, even in the health world!

    Reply
  21. Regardless of what one thinks about caffeine, saying “Does this look friendly to you? Think with your gut — literally” undermines your credibility because it’s based on assumption, opinion, and emotion. Nothing else. Stick to the facts lest you stoop to the Big Pharma sheeple strategies. It’s the same as another statement that if the name is long, it must be bad. Yeah right. I enjoy your newsletter. Let’s keep it credible. By the way, the picture, to me is quite artistic as an abstract and could easily be presented as a sculpture. Stick to the facts.

    Reply
  22. I had severe adrenal fatigue for years. I had coffee recently and it took me days to recover. It sent me into an episode of adrenal fatigue. When I drink coffee, my heart palpitates and I get an overdrive feeling inside that is so uncomfortable for me. I am very sensitive to caffeine and know I should not have it. Now, to break the dark chocolate habit….

    By the way, Dr. Rind was my doctor for many years! He treated my adrenal/thyroid issues successfully.

    Good luck for those trying to break the coffee habit!

    By the way, I have never been a coffee drinker, just a cup a few times a year.

    Reply
  23. How does the caffeine in Green Tea factor into this study. I use Green and OOlong Tea in making my Kombucha and am curious what your school of thought is on this.

    Reply
  24. The fact that caffeine kills animals, like dogs, should be a little alarming. If I am not mistaken, humans are one of the only creatures on God’s green earth to willingly consume the stuff.

    I don’t care for the side effects of caffeine in myself, as I usually don’t feel too well after consuming it; the increased HR/blood flow apparently feels too similar to the activated sympathetic nervous system in my body, and gives me a gnawing feeling of uneasiness that is not pleasant! But, my husband and I share a cup of coffee occasionally. It is not common for us, though.

    Coffee has, I am sure, many good side effects, but let us not be the drunkard justifying his red wine because it contains a serving of resveratrol.
    Mrs. H\’s last post: Real Humans!

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  25. The picture looks soooooo cool!!!!!

    Here are a couple of issues I have with this discussion:

    First- almost ALL plants have some kind of mechanism against buggies, all vegetables do…it’s called oxilates. Can’t escape that. Good thing we aren’t bugs!

    Second- stomach acid..it increases it…yay! For those of us with low stomach acid (which in most cases of those on the purple pill DO have, they just don’t know it, since they think GERD and heartburn, etc are HIGH acid, which we know they aren’t). I like having my stomach acid higher, it helps me digest :)

    I am not defending coffee/caffeine, other than to say, moderation in all things. And for people like me, who have high ferritin, coffee actually blocks iron absorption and right now, I NEED that!

    Reply
  26. Question: How does de-caf fare comparitively? My husband has been trying to go off coffee and has been drinking de-caf sometimes…

    Reply
      • My goodness – decaf is a horrible way to go! Your promoting it just gave away all credibility in my mind. Amy, please research most decaffeinated beverages and how they lose their caffeine – it’s with chemical processing that you *really* don’t want in your body. The only “safe” decaf is called a Swiss water process decaf, which is a natural way to decaffeinate, but it is very rarely used and hard to find!

        Reply
  27. No way! I am gluten sensitive but have to have the coffee, a small cup in the AM. I am pregnant with my 4th, the oldest is almost 5. I need a bit of energy to start the morning. If anyone has a healthier alternative I am all ears. Until then, a small cup of coffee during the week (not the weekends as hubby is home to help) and occasional dark chocolate.

    Reply
      • Oh enjoy your coffee Lisa, your body will tell you when you should and shouldn’t have it and it will make you sick if you even smell it at times. If you’re a coffee drinker herbal tea is not enjoyable! I consume a quart of herbal tea per day for health benifits but coffee is what I enjoy and I am waiting impatiently for #10 to arrive. Some of us are fine with enjoying things that may have a toxin. I love your blog Sarah, but you do have to admit optimal health is your passion and you are obsessive about it, that is not said to cause offense. You and your unborn are FAR worse off having twinkies or doughnuts so the sugar surge doesn’t compare to that.

        Reply
  28. I knew when I saw the title that you were going to get lots of unhappy comments! Thanks for being willing to put up with the negative comments and concentrate on getting the info out there for us to look at and check into it! I drink a half cup a day of organic coffee with raw milk and stevia and cinnamon. I decreased my usage from one cup a day to the half for the obvious side effects that I was unable to deny. Occasionally, I will have one of those fancy, expensive coffees while I am out with my daughter, and OH MY! I really pay for it! Heart palpitations, headache and sometimes nausea that can last for 24-48 hrs.! I have only done that twice in a year and then was sure of the culprit. It is not worth it to me. I am a definite Type A, and that little bit in the morning seems to clear the cobwebs without any adverse effects. I also eat a high protein and healthy fat breakfast to make sure that I don’t cause any blood sugar swings. Someday, I may just stop totally, as I am working toward a healthier lifestyle..but, it will have to be a little at a time. When I was younger, I was radical about everything, and now God has helped me to be more moderate and less compulsive. I really don’t want to be in bondage to anything… so, thanks for helping me understand better about my body and how everything works. P.S. To the commenter, Sally_Oh, you made me laugh so hard!!! Thanks! I needed that!

    Reply
  29. Another thing about caffeine, from a male perspective. It seems that men tend to have heart attacks in the morning, and drinking caffeinated coffee gets and/or keeps the heart going, preventing heart attacks. As in all thing, moderation is the key.

    Reply
      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        Willom, I appreciate the attempt at a positive spin on caffeine, but drinking caffeine in the morning to prevent a heart attacks sounds a bit outlandish to me!!! If anything, the sudden stress from the caffeine would trigger one (at least to me … even a half cup of coffee in the am for me on an empty stomach would cause panic attack type symptoms).
        Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: A Visual View of Caffeine

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  30. Maybe I missed something, but the article about the woman who overdosed on the energy drink said it was the B3 that cause her liver to fail:
    “Doctors believe the woman overdosed on one ingredient: niacin — also called vitamin B3 — which can damage the liver when ingested in high amounts.”
    Though the article references ones ability to grossly overdose on caffeine, a caffeine overdose was not what landed the woman in the hospital.
    Caffeine could very well be bad for people, I don’t know. What I do know, is that the information in this post would never convince me that it was. Without even addressing the faulty logic throughout this post, this kind of out-of-context reporting is what I would expect of the mainstream media, not my defender of politically incorrect nutrition.

    Reply
  31. Sarah,

    I have a question… I completely agree with you on the caffeine and coffee issue, so it’s not that. I have been so confused about Kombucha though. I don’t drink any coffee or tea from the tea plant and have been very confused about Kombucha for that reason. Does the fermenting alter the things that are harmful in the tea? Black tea especially is something I particularly avoid. And isn’t that the main ingredient in Kombucha? Have been very curious about this for a while… would really appreciate any insight you have in the matter! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Hi Emmally, there may be a slight amount of caffeine that remains in properly fermented kombucha but most if not all is gone else I would not allow my children to drink it. I have a great sensitivity to caffeine and have never had trouble with kombucha. Note the color change from when it starts to ferment (a dark tea color) to when it is finished brewing (a very light, ginger ale type color. You will have to try it and see for yourself how you react to it, but I have not come across anyone in my years as a WAPF Chapter Leader who has issues with caffeine who cannot drink kombucha.
      Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: A Visual View of Caffeine

      Reply
  32. Sarah I like your post and do not think it is fear mongering. Because something has antioxidants in it does not mean that it is universally a panacea. Not everyone does well with coffee ..or green tea and/or chocolate for that matter.

    Caffeine and all the methylxanthines have the potential to be “toxins”. Each person is just able to handle them differently. In our office we have seen many who have gotten off coffee who have had great improvements in their health. Some can later add some back, some need to avoid it forever. Same with kombucha, not everyone thrives on it. What harm is there in avoiding coffee or tea for a few weeks to see if one feels better, sleeps better, etc? Nature has provided numerous sources of plantioxidants.

    Reply
  33. Sarah, I enjoy the comments section of your blog as much as the posts! Always get a few good laughs and many benefits from hearing all the arguments.

    My simple take on caffeine is “what goes up, must come down.” Anything that gives you a high comes with a price tag: crash. Problem is, with such addictive substances, the crash lasts longer and pretty much cancels out the benefits of the “high.” So too much of anything that gives you a high will destroy your health in the long term.

    For me, the solution is knowledge and self-control, not necessarily quitting. The effects of alcohol, for instance, are well-documented, and people are constantly encouraged and educated to consume responsibly. Most are aware of its long-term damaging effects and choose to imbibe responsibly or irresponsibly. The facts are plastered all over warning labels and TV commercials and no longer even controversial. Many people are self-defined “alcoholics” and won’t touch a drop of the stuff. And this is right for some people and can save their life.

    But the dangers of too many refined sugars and caffeine, and the highly addictive quality of both of those substances, is still fiercely and frequently debated. So thanks for putting the truth so plainly and in a way that gets people’s attention!

    Personally, I have the occasional cup of decaf coffee and still get a buzz from that. But chocolate I can’t eat at all. I love the taste, but it makes me cranky. My wife still has some in moderation, and it doesn’t seem to affect her as badly.

    Reply
  34. After having my 3rd child, all of a sudden I had hyperthyroidism. Didn’t know where it came
    from all of a sudden. Then I was diagnosed as an anemic, with severe heart palpatations.
    I started taking Spirulina along with my fermented cod liver oil pills, anemia – gone (blood level count back to 12 from 6). Hyperthyroidism – gone. but I still have heart palpitations once in awhile, now I know, it’s the coffee, like I suspected. Thanks, Sarah

    Sarah, can you please advise the daily 1 cup, 2 stevias and organic half & half coffee drinkers, on what to subsitute? I really love your blog and respect your views.

    P.S. I’m prepared to go through the couple of days of body shock (headaches) to replace or just rid the coffee completely.

    Reply
  35. Well, Asian countries have been drinking tea on a daily basis for thousands of years, and they obviously haven’t suffered for it. I don’t drink coffee, but I’m a daily tea drinker, and it doesn’t bother me at all, and I have’t had heartburn in YEARS, and I don’t have any digestive issues, either. When I did have heartburn, it was from my crappy diet. Cleaned up the diet, and I haven’t had it again.

    There are those who are super sensitive to caffeine, and then there are the rest of us, who have no issues with it whatsoever as long as we don’t overdue.

    There’s a huge difference between enjoying 1-2 cups of coffee and tea everyday, and practically living on the stuff and making it your only source of hydration. I do know people who seriously only drink coffee throughout the day, and they suffer from all kinds of problems. Energy drinks are far worse.

    I just choose to be smart about my caffeine intake, not banish it from my life completely. Tea is much too enjoyable and beneficial for that!

    Reply
  36. There are different kinds of caffeine according to Dr. Nicholas Perrone. The caffeine in coffee activates cortisol, the stress/death hormone, locking up your body’s ability to burn stored fat no matter how hungry you are. Hence the difficulty losing weight. The caffeine in green tea doesn’t do this. If you switch from coffee to green tea you will likely see an effortless 5 lb weight loss. I’m disappointed you’d write an article about caffeine without knowing/mentioning this.

    Reply
  37. I am a confirmed coffee drinker. I’ve quit drinking it several times over the years – once for about a year (via a 3 1/2 day water fast) – but sooner or later, I always return to coffee. It usually isn’t for the so called “high,” but rather, it’s because I simply love coffee, and I like it strong – I even like grinding my organic coffee beans fresh every morning because it smells so good, and the coffee tastes so much better. Coffee substitutes never came close to the taste of coffee in spite of their creative marketing, and I don’t enjoy decaf, nor any tea (except as Kombucha). Over the years, I’ve tried everything I could afford to try to stop drinking coffee because I believed the negative hype that there is nothing beneficial about coffee, and felt guilty for drinking it. But **nothing** takes the place of coffee for me. [I follow my black coffee several minutes later with raw milk Kefir, then later, Kombucha or KombuCafé (made with coffee rather than tea, and it's delicious too!).] Kombucha causes me some acid discomfort (so does some raw fruit), but my strong black coffee does not.

    Our body’s nutritional intricacies are myriad and mind boggling. Trying to figure out everything just right is frustrating, can strip one’s life of pleasure, and is, I believe, impossible to achieve. Additionally, as science has now proven, we really are all different, so sure, some people should avoid all caffeine consumption, but that probably isn’t true for all of us, anymore than gluten is a problem for all of us, or oxalates are a problem for all of us, etc.

    And speaking of science, I am very disappointed that you commented to the effect that science was being used to justify an unhealthy habit. I find that troubling, and not just because I love coffee, but rather, because it makes you sound prejudiced against coffee consumption, and anyone who would defend it on even a scientific basis. There IS plenty of scientific evidence now to show that coffee drinking can be highly beneficial for some people, maybe even most people. Ori Hofmekler, who is very health conscious, studied coffee science, because he likes his coffee so much, and what he found is quite interesting and informative. For those who are interested, here’s a link: http://tinyurl.com/3dj9fk3 Dr, Mercola followed up with two more articles on coffee’s benefits here: http://tinyurl.com/7qo2l95 and here: http://tinyurl.com/3g4ezas Additionally, coffee’s benefits are reported at ScienceDaily here: http://tinyurl.com/79pju79 and Chemistry World: http://tinyurl.com/4x8s7zp And finally, the BulletproofExec.com has multiple articles on the benefits of coffee, and how to make sure that it is healthy coffee. And I’m sure that there are plenty more positive science-based articles out there, but this will do for a start.

    I am also disappointed that you *seem* to be lumping energy drinks, coffee and tea into the same category because they all contain caffeine. I don’t believe that’s fair, because the energy drinks contain caffeine isolate – and at very high levels – whereas coffee and tea do not contain isolated caffeine, and the caffeine level is much lower. To me, that’s a lot like saying that all milk is the same.

    Reply
    • I couldn’t agree more – this is very well written.
      I’m having a hard time understanding why Sarah is so *sure* of herself on this one, when there is so much conflicting information out there on caffeine. Saying that the caffeine is the ‘pesticide’ of the plant and should be avoided is a weak argument, because many plants we consume have natural pesticides or deterrents in them. It must greatly depend on what a person’s system can handle or not. The other argument about blood sugar – again a very weak argument since the blood sugar spike from coffee is very much dependent on the other substances in the body. I’m dumbfounded that she is *sure* that caffeine is an evil that must be avoided and continues to argue blindly and close-mindedly with all commenters about it. This actually prevented me from commenting, but I liked yours so much, I felt inclined to respond. Thanks!

      Reply
  38. What about caffeine’s effects on testosterone and estrogen? I’ve recently read that it can whack the T by increasing estrogen?

    Reply
  39. What about kombucha? I know you recommend that, is all the caffeine consumed by the SCOBY during the fermentation?

    Reply
  40. I quit coffee/caffine cold turkey about 28 months ago. I used to be super addicted to caffine and it was hard to cut it out but WAY worth it. We were planning a baby and wanted to have that out of my system. I know I can’t go back because if I eat a little piece of chocolate it makes my baby not sleep well at all. It’s hard but I feel TONS better–more energy, sleep better even with a baby, my mood is better, not sleepy throughout the day… One thing that helped me, was at work I see co-workers coffee cups and see how stained they are–I can’t help but wonder, what is it doing to the inside of me?

    I found that Roastaroma tea by Celestial Seasonings is a great substitute when I have an occassional craving. Tastes like chai spiced coffee.

    Reply
  41. I love a good capuccinno. I think anything like coffee if taken in moderation is good. To have such extreme views about anything is neither good for the mind, the body or the soul. So I really feel that to adopt the Buddhist Philosophy of taking the MIDDLE PATH is the key.Even THE HOLY PROPHET MUHAMMED said its best to be like the Olive Tree, neither of the East nor of the West. Take the Middle Path my friend. You will be happier if you are a PLUARALIST as opposed to an and EXCLUSIVIST or an INCLUSIVIST.Now go an enjoy a good cup of coffee as millions of people are dependent upon it to make a living. Just remember, moderation is the key.One good brew of coffee once in a while is SUPREME !

    Reply
  42. To all of you who consume caffeine moderately and wisely, congratulations. This is a tough road nowadays as coffee, chocolate and energy boosting products are everywhere just like sugar and finding a balance between occasional enjoyment and daily consumption/addiction is no easy road.

    Reply
  43. While I recommend teas over coffee for the many health benefits tea has to offer, there are so many decaf varieties out there, so you do not have to totally nix your tea consumption. I have to say thought that lately I have been drinking more herbal teas in order to gain the medicinal benefits of herbs that I need. Also, Roasted Chicory Root and Chicory Mocha Spice Tea that we carry – I have become totally (and in a healthy way :)) addicted to drinking these. For all you coffee drinkers, try the rich taste of Chicory Root. You may be surprised. And the health benefits are astounding!

    Nickole

    Reply
  44. I’m curious what you think about acid reflux that is not realted to caffeine. It seems like I get it when I’m consuming too much fat or am pregnant. Caffeine does it too, but like I said, I have also come down with it for a couple of months as a response to too much fat. One time I came down with it, I had switched to full-fat dairy, was including more butter in my diet, and had started taking flax and Cod Liver Oil (1/2 of the recommended dose of each per day). (I admit, the butter and other dairy were pasteurized as I have not yet made the switch to raw.) Cod Liver Oil sounds healthy from reading your blog, but do you have recommendations on how my stomach could tolerate it? I’m on Nexium during this pregnancy after having tried a long list of natural cures. Do you have any advice?

    Reply
    • Acid reflux is definately related to starches with me. If I’m in a heavy spaghetti or pizza period, whoa…..

      Reply
  45. Thanks for the great visual and informational representation – I do wonder, however – what about green tea?? I’m a faithful green tea drinker, daily, and have heard that “decaffeinated green tea” is chemically unhealthy (since they use chemicals to decaffeinate the tea)…Help! What are your thoughts??

    Reply
  46. Laura Webster Devaisher via Facebook July 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this!! Educate yourselves, and make an informed decision regarding vaccines!

    Reply
  47. On the subject of green tea: there are a number of natural health sites that recommend not drinking it anymore due to elevated levels of flouride in it. Is this true?

    Reply
  48. I find that when people are truly searching to understand, they can find the right sources, especially in this information age.

    Likewise, when people are confronted with an uncomfortable reality that jars an existing belief, they can turn around and find what they need to prove that they were right all along.

    Reply
  49. The Misconception: Coffee stimulates you.

    The Truth: You become addicted to caffeine quickly, and soon you are drinking coffee to cure withdrawal more than for stimulation.
    Mmmm, a warm cup of coffee with delicious cream, topped with a frothy head.
    You smell it brewing and feel cozy inside as you browse cakes and brownies, scones and biscotti.

    You get some of it in you, and you feel alive again…
    Coffee is awesome….

    Except, of course, much of this is an illusion.

    The truth is, once you’ve been drinking coffee for a while, the feeling you are getting after a cup isn’t the difference between the normal you and the super you, it’s the difference between the addict before and after a fix.

    Ok, this is a very simplified explanation:
    Caffeine is an adenosine antagonist. This means it prevents adenosine from doing its job.
    Your brain is filled with keys which fit specific keyholes. Adenosine is one of those keys, but caffeine can fit in the same keyhole.
    When caffeine gets in there, it keeps adenosine from getting in.

    Adenosine does a lot of stuff all throughout your body, but the most noticeable job it has is to suppress your nervous system. With caffeine stuck in the keyhole, adenosine can’t calm you down. It can’t make you drowsy.
    That crazy wired feeling you get when you drink a lot of coffee is what it feels like when your brain can’t turn itself off.

    To compensate, your brain creates a ton of new receptor sites. The plan is to have more keyholes than false keys.
    The result is you become very sensitive to adenosine, and without coffee you get overwhelmed by its effects.

    After eight hours of sleep, you wake up with a head swimming with adenosine. You feel like **** until you get that black gold in you to clean out those receptor sites.

    That perk you feel isn’t adding anything substantial to you – it’s bringing you back to just above zero.

    In addition, coffee stimulates your adrenal glands and when the adrenaline runs dry, you feel like you’ve been running a marathon, which leads you to look for more coffee to get those glands pumping again.

    After a few rides on the adrenal roller-coaster, you crash.

    You might think all of this probably takes a while, but it takes about 7 days to become addicted to caffeine.
    Once addicted, you need more and more coffee to get buzzed as your brain gets covered in receptor sites.

    Coffee also releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical in the brain which is released when you have an orgasm, win the lottery and shoot heroin. A similar addiction cycle with dopamine leads to depression and fatigue when you aren’t hitting the beans.

    Finally, caffeine takes about six hours to leave your system. So if you drink coffee six hours or less before going to bed, you won’t reach deep sleep as often. This means you wake up less rested, and need more coffee.

    If you’ve been drinking coffee for a while, you aren’t getting nearly as much out of it as you did in the beginning. You are just curing an addiction.

    The take home is that regular use of caffeine produces no benefit to alertness, energy, or function. Regular caffeine users are simply staving off caffeine withdrawal with every dose – using caffeine just to return them to their baseline. This makes caffeine a net negative for alertness, or neutral at best if use is regular enough to avoid any withdrawal.”

    Mind you, this is not a dependency. You will experience withdrawal symptoms upon cessation, but not like with amphetamines and cocaine.

    Coffee doesn’t seem to affect the dopaminergic structures related to reward, but before you breathe a sigh of relief, ask yourself how long you’ve been drinking it. Try and stop for two weeks and see how hard it is.

    A cup or three will still give you pep, but as with all stimulants, over time you need more and more to reach that golden hum.

    At the end of the day, despite the anti-oxidants and similar benefits, there are more negatives than positives when it comes to caffeine. Plus, you can get those benefits (the positives) through other means…

    -Grant T.C.
    Behavioral Scientist and Biochemist.

    Reply
  50. I do drink green Matcha tea and I do raw cacao a few times a week. I put in shakes, hot cocoa drinks, etc. Is this damaging too?
    I wouldn’t mind giving up the tea, but oh no..not the cacao..lol!
    I do feel a slight buzz from the tea and the cacao, but the buzz from coffee feels like cocaine to me. BTW..to get the so called benefits of various diseases that coffee is supposed to help, you would need 4-6 cups per day. I would be walking on the celing with that much coffee!

    Reply
  51. Pingback: How To Quit Coffee

  52. > If insects are instinctively smart enough to avoid plants containing caffeine to ensure their own survival, don’t you think you probably should avoid it too?

    Yes!! And, if insects are instinctively smart enough to eat dog poo to ensure their own survival, don’t you think you should probably eat it too?

    Reply
  53. What a childish group of people. If you do not like what she has to say then do not come here. Just because a study or studies says something is “good for you” does not mean it is good for everyone for everything all the time. Caffeine does not serve everyone well. If you health problems, eliminate coffee and caffeine containing beverages for a few weeks. Ween yourself off. Let’s put our big boy and girl pants and act like adults.

    Reply
  54. Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to consume caffeine for a few months now. I used to consume about 2 cups of coffee a day, and/or various teas for the rest of the day. Not to mention the large amount of dark chocolate I would eat. It wasn’t even that I wanted a caffeine fix (well… so I had thought at the time. Looking back now, though…), but that I really loved the taste of those drinks and foods, and thought they had wonderful health properties.
    Since I started trying to follow a WAPD, I cut WAY back on all of those drinks. Not because of the caffeine, but because initially when I was trying to consume fermented foods with every meal, water kefir was my go-to as I wasn’t fond of fermented foods. Several months later, I eat a wide variety of fermented foods, and I was trying to decide whether or not to add back a few of my old favorite hot drinks. I think I’ve sort of known I need to stay away from caffeine, but up until now, I haven’t found anything to really convince me.
    I now consume about two cups of coffee a week, with cream. (I used to drink coffee black.) I haven’t had tea in about two months and to be honest, I REALLY miss my tea, so I may start swapping a cup of coffee with a cup of tea. Herbal chai and other teas are really helping though. Chocolate is my next huge enemy. I LOVE chocolate. I guess it’s time to finally try carob. Really hoping it will be edible… lol

    Reply
  55. Pingback: Caffeine is a Drug

  56. Pingback: What I learned in 2012 « Mint&Chilli

  57. Pingback: Bullet Proof Smoothie | Loula NaturalLoula Natural

  58. I’d say decaf coffee is the a good compromise. I notice a slight pick-me-up effect even when drinking decaf and it would appear to avoid some of the consequences of highly caffeinated side effects that Sarah cautions here.

    Reply

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