How to know if caffeine is affecting your hormones (with recipes & recommendations)
September 29, 2019
(updated June 3, 2021)
What’s Inside: How to know if caffeine is affecting your hormones, what to do about it, and my favorite caffeine-free and coffee alternatives.
Hormone imbalances can feel like a cruel joke. We lose our energy, our hair, and, according to our families, even our minds. But losing the coffee? Now that’s no laughing matter. So, do you really have to quit coffee and caffeine for adrenal health, PCOS, Hashimoto’s, and/or general hormone health? It’s just not that simple in my experience. Caffeine and coffee, in particular, are incredibly bio-individual. The jury is still out on how caffeine affects cortisol production and adrenals and everyone metabolizes it differently. So before you toss out your fancy fair-trade organic coffee beans, consider these facts.
WHAT REALLY MATTERS IS…
How coffee/caffeine affects your: SLEEP & STRESS. Those are the pillars of health that will directly affect your adrenals, and thus, your hormone health.
So you need to know how it affects you. The tricky part? When you’re a coffee addict and need it to function… you likely don’t even know how it’s messing or not messing with you (not speaking from experience or anything ????).
My best advice: Reduce it and/or remove it because experimenting is the only way to REALLY know.
First, CHECK-IN WITH YOURSELF:
When you consume caffeine…
do you get jittery?
do you get an upset stomach?
does it make you more anxious/stressed?
do you suffer from insomnia or winding down for the evening?
do you suffer from migraines or frequent headaches?
do you struggle with vitamin/mineral absorption?
do you need to add sugar to the caffeinated drink?
do you crave sugar after having a cup?
If you answered yes to any of those, you’ll want to explore reducing and possibly eliminating for a short period like 3-4 weeks to really see improvements. And keep in mind, perhaps it’s more of a dosage thing… maybe 1 cup is great, but 2 or 3 makes you feel bad… ALL IMPORTANT INFO TO TAKE NOTE OF! #knowthyself
PRO TIP: Keep a food and mood journal as you explore!
Other considerations for caffeine consumption affecting your hormones and health in general…
The extra load on your liver. One cup may be metabolized just fine, but more than that just may send you into a tailspin. And if you’re suffering from hormonal imbalances, your liver doesn’t need more of a stress in order to detox excess hormones such as estrogen.So less is more, and knowing what you can handle is key.
The possibility of vitamin depletion. There are studies to support that caffeine can bind and deplete the bodies of important nutrients like B vitamins and Iron (all-important for hormone health). This may or may not be affecting you, and again, the poison is in the dose. Just 1 cup may not be enough to do this.You could also try timing a multi-vitamin or prenatal for AFTER your morning cup of Joe. (source)
Excess stress and the contribution of caffeine. When we’re highly stressed, our sleep and hormones may naturally be affected and we may lean on coffee/caffeine for energy as a crutch that will just stress us out even more! If you’re feeling very stressed, give yourself some off-time from caffeine, coffee especially. It will feel like the exact opposite thing of what you want to do… but necessary to break a vicious cycle.See below for my printable shopping guide of alternative products and recipes you can try to still have a boost of energy and ritual to enjoy.
*Here are my top tips for caffeine consumption and managing lower stress & quality sleep.*
Keep your cup of coffee/tea to 1 cup before noon
Opt for organic coffee (less chance of mold and gluten-exposure which could upset your tummy) and if you like decaf, I recommend the “swiss water method” decaf which is a safer way of extracting the caffeine. I like Allegro Coffee the best which you can find at Whole Foods.
Switch it up! How about some MATCHA which has 1/4th the caffeine that coffee does (and has no jittery/crash feeling, just clean focused energy)? I drink it daily and find I do much better with it vs. my previous beloved coffee. PLUS. THAT. COLOR. One of my favorite brands right now is Pique Tea which is quadruply screened for mold and toxins to boot.
Nix the sugar and consider adding fat like coconut milk and Ceylon Cinnamon which is great for balancing blood sugar levels. Remember that added sugar in the morning day after day will definitely abuse your adrenals, and that’s what we are trying to avoid.
Sip slowly and mindfully to notice how it feels & enjoy!
Up for the experiment to eliminate and see how it feels?
Use all the tips above and start to taper off, switching to decaf (#2) is helpful as you taper off so you don’t struggle with some intense caffeine withdrawal headaches. Use decaf for a week, and then come off the caffeine altogether.