A couple of weeks ago I challenged my brother to 10 days with no caffeine. We both have coffee beans for brains so I thought it was a brill idea and a perfect opportunity to prevail because he is more obsessed with coffee than I. Enough time passed that I was beginning to think he was wussing out on me. Yesterday he informed me he was finally ready and would call me before Monday when we start. He woke me up with a text at 4:00am in the morning saying, “IT’S ON!!!”
I am sitting here at my desk, with a headache and an intense psychological need to lessen the blow of the Monday morning with a large cup of Peet’s. I really don’t know what to say other than I was clearly smoking the crackpipe when I came up with this insane idea. Brutal. I didn’t realize how dependent on coffee I was for my well-being, ability to talk to people without snapping at them and to construct the most basic sentence without staring at my screen in a catatonic state. I realize that drinking coffee is one big huge lie. Basically, we wake up in the morning at an ungodly hour and our body says, “I’m tired. I don’t want to go to work. Can’t we just lay here in bed and sleep a little longer?” By pouring coffee down our throats we’re saying: “Shut up! You’re lying. You’re not tired! What you want doesn’t matter. Now wake up. ” And so we obey. How awesome would it be if we could wake up when we wake up…..9 or 10, shuffle around, eat a leisurely breakfast, listen to some music, read the paper and then actually be refreshed and rejuvenated to start our day? We wouldn’t even have to lie to ourselves.
Do we use coffee as some kind of mood panacea because we don’t enjoy what we’re doing or because we just have a vague general malaise and we don’t know why? Anything can seem tolerable with a nice caffeine buzz going. Suddenly that boring drone at the office who has decided to suck 90 minutes from our life in a pre-meeting planning meeting before the big meeting seems mildly interesting. Coffee gives us instant motivation, we’re on instant turbo-charge, which by the way is the way Americans are supposed to be. Go, go, go, go, go be bionic.
An Indian sage had landed in NY and was to speak at a conference there. It was her first trip to the City. She made the remark, “What is everybody running from? A tiger?” her chaperone said, “No, they’re not running from something, they’re running after the dollar.” In a way, by pumping our blood full of caffeine we are putting the world of work in front of our bodies and health. Or maybe the coffee consumption isn’t all about work at all, but simply something we rely on as an anti-depressant or over the counter mood lifter?
Here’s something interesting to note. According to the Global Market Information database, the highest amount of coffee consumption in the world comes from five of the northernmost European countries:
|# 1||Norway:||10.7 kgs|
|# 2||Finland:||10.1 kgs|
|# 3||Denmark:||9.7 kgs|
|# 4||Sweden:||7.8 kgs|
|# 5||Netherlands:||7.1 kgs|
Either they get depressed up there or they just really need their comfort java when the day is only light 5-6 hours. Some will tout all of the studies on coffee being good for you and having antioxidants, helping to stave off Parkinson’s or Alzheimers. No doubt, coffee can be beneficial, but it was never meant to be a daily drink. Daily coffee has more harmful effects than we would like to admit. Here is David Hogg’s (ND) two cents on the dangers of daily coffee:
“So, here’s the straight information. I believe everyone agrees that coffee stimulates the adrenal glands to release adrenalin. I hear you say, “Yes, that is what I want it to do so I can wake up and get to work.” Well, I understand. Except, daily drinking coffee keeps your adrenals turned “on” for hours everyday your drink it. When your adrenals are on, adrenalin (epinephrine) is constantly pumped through your blood stream. Adrenalin helps to shut your digestion and immune system off, and shunts blood to your bones, heart, and muscles. The reason is that your body is misled to believe you have a bear to fight or run from. No, I am not talking about your boss. Your body is falsely put into a fight or flight response by drinking coffee. This is not healthy to do to your body everyday. Many of us do this everyday and have for many years. I spoke last time about gambling with your health, and this is what you are doing with your health drinking coffee everyday. How many years do you think your body can take the coffee you drink everyday.
Part of the trouble is that after many years of drinking coffee everyday, you need more of it to get the same effect. For those of you are now drinking 1/2 to 1 full pot of coffee everyday, you probably started out drinking 1 cup a day. Those of you who are currently drinking only 1 cup per day need to understand that you may be having to increase the amount of daily coffee to achieve the same results.
The main trouble is when you drink coffee; the first thing that happens is the caffeine stimulates the adrenals to produce adrenalin. Adrenalin then stimulates the pancreas to produce glucagon, which tells the liver to convert fat to glucose. The glucose is there for energy to go to your muscles to fight or run from the bear your body has been fooled into believing is there. When you do not use the glucose, it rises to excess in your blood stream. Excess glucose in the blood causes your pancreas then to produce insulin that makes the glucose go back into fat storage. Your heart rate increasing, from the coffee, will use some of the glucose, but the rest will most likely go back into fat.
I believe coffee will wear out your pancreas and adrenals. I believe some of the obesity and diabetes in this country is due to abuse of coffee. Coffee also causes adrenal fatigue as well. Please realize the fatigue you feel the next day is NOT due to a coffee deficiency. Your fatigue IS due to the coffee you are drinking everyday. When you feel so fatigued that you cannot get going without coffee, your daily coffee causes the fatigue you feel. Understand? So, do you want to treat your fatigue with more coffee? Or, do you want to treat the cause? As a naturopathic doctor, I help you treat the cause of your fatigue. How many years do you think your body can withstand you drinking daily coffee? People come in to my office with migraines, high blood pressure, diabetes, hives, allergies, and others that can be contributed to by daily coffee.”
So after reading this, I don’t feel as tempted to medicate myself. I’m aware that often we are only debiting our health account as a result of addiction and dependency rather than a conscious decision. I get it. Actually, here’s an encouraging fact. If I can master my addiction to coffee and after a few uncomfortable days recognize how I’m feeling better and how much energy I have, I might relegate coffee to a once in awhile thing, and that would just deepen my love affair with it, because I would appreciate it more. I’m all over that. It’s ON!!! Then again, perhaps that’s another tool of self-denial that enables me to remain addicted.