The most common reaction I’d normally get would be in the lines of: ‘OMG, how are you not dying without coffee right now?!’.
Well, fast forward 4 weeks and, yep – I’m still standing. And not even just standing, I’m thriving more than when I was on the coffee-bandwagon – a band-wagon that nearly half the population (46%) of Australia is on – for better or worse.
Now, I’m not saying that coffee is bad for you, or in anyway unhealthy – unless you load it up with creamer and white sugar in teaspoons – actually, coffee is and can be a very healthy, hot drink – what it comes down to is how you take it (straight?), but more importantly, how your body reacts to it – something that a lot of people fail to notice.
Which leads me to the point; Why did I stop drinking coffee?
I’ve had a very sensitive gut for many many years. Genes, illness, eating disorders, poor eating, too strict eating – you name it – it’s all contributed to the very sensitive stomach I deal with today.
One of the problems (for me) with a very sensitive gut, is that I get incredibly bad reflux or heartburn. It’s so bad, that if I do a downward-dog and open my mouth, chances are, that the stomach-acid will be coming up and straight out of my mouth. Sorry for the visuals, however, I want you to understand how much a sensitive & ruined gut can wreck havoc on your life.. Not to mention the pain it causes.
My poorly-functioning gut also shows up like bad skin (breakouts and dullness), poor sleeping patterns, a lack of energy, depressive mood-patterns, dry body-skin, thin and fine hair, non-clear eyes and much more.
Basically, your entire body-operating system takes place in the stomach and gut, and if that is not well, functioning and thriving, then it will not absorb the nutrients you’re feeding it, meaning it won’t be sending out all the good vitamins, carbs, proteins and other building-blocks it needs, in order for you to look and feel as great as you’re suppose to.
So, what’s this got to do with coffee?
As I mentioned to begin with; coffee isn’t bad for you. BUT, if you have a sensitive gut like me, then it could very well be your enemy.
I’ll tell you why:
- GERD: If you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), it’s a good idea to avoid coffee as it stimulates the secretion of gastric acid, which can bring on the heart burn even if you don’t have a bad case of GERD. And if you do? It’s going to be much worse!
- STOMACH ACID: Caffeine stimulates the stomach cells to release more hydrochloric acid, which can, at times, aid digestion, but regular coffee drinking, especially in the morning on an empty stomach, reduces the amount of stomach acid available for digestion later on.
The main bacteria responsible for ulcers, prefers highly acidic environments. Combine this with the way coffee weakens the protective barrier of the stomach – the mucosal layer — and the risk of damage and ulcers increases.
- GLUTEN: Coffee is like gluten, at least that’s what our bodies might think. If you have gluten sensitivity, then you should approach coffee with caution.
Turns out, coffee is one of the most common cross-reactive foods. In other words, the body can mistaken coffee proteins for gluten. And that means, just like it would produce antibodies to attack gluten (thereby causing inflammation) it might do the same with coffee.
- INFLAMMATION: Regular coffee consumption – more than half a cup a day – has been shown to increase circulating white blood cells and key inflammatory cytokines. So, when you regularly drink coffee you end up with inflammation-causing cells spreading throughout your body. That leads to chronic systemic inflammation, albeit low. But even at low levels, more inflammation is what you want to avoid if you have a sensitive gut.
- FOOD ROTTING: Coffee’s known to encourage the stomach to release its contents into the small intestine before complete digestion has occurred. Food that doesn’t get fully digested often ends up sitting and rotting in the gut. This creates a toxic environment ideal for ‘bad’ bacteria to spread in the intestines, damages the intestinal wall, and leads to inflammation and an immune response to enzymes in the coffee.
Just remember, these things may not resonate with you, if you are the ‘lucky’ owner of a strong, healthy gut. But if you don’t, then keep reading on..
How did I do it?
Well, to be honest; there’s not really any tips, tricks or magical advice – I just went cold turkey. Part of me also wanted to prove (to myself), that it was simply just a habit having 2-3 cups of coffee a day. Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE COFFEE! And I love enjoying it whilst I work, sipping on it on a rainy day etc.. But it became a security and habit-blanket that was doing more damage than good.
The first 3 days are definitely the worst ones. I will have to be honest; I didn’t feel like I got those withdrawal-symptoms that a lot of people talk about. Rather, it was ‘hand’-withdrawals from not having that cup to grab after, however I quickly substituted it with tea & raw honey for sweetness – and now, more than ever, I’m obsessed with tea and will have 3-4 cups a day (if not more!).
After one week, I found it really easy to continue going. I wasn’t missing it, especially as I’d substituted my coffee-drinking habit with tea, which is actually helping my water-intake and soothing my tummy instead.
The hardest part was getting my regular coffee-spot (Cali Press) to understand I was OFF coffee after they kept asking ‘So, just your regular coffee, Caroline?’ every day for a week (hah!) – they helped strengthen my NO-bone in my body
After 4 weeks off coffee I can genuinely say, my gut and stomach is so much happier.
In just those 4 weeks I have noticed a huge increase in:
- Far fewer days with reflux
- Less bloating and upset stomach
- Better and deeper sleep
- Less fatigue and tiredness – I have high energy into the early evening
- Better & more regular bowel-movements
- Better and clearer skin – my skin is glowing.
- My eyes are white, clear and not itchy.
- My mood has improved, and I don’t have as many mood-swings and depressive moments.
For me; these gains far outweighs drinking coffee – not only by my body feels, but also how I can now operate without feeling like I have an addiction running my life.
What do I drink instead?
- TEA, TEA, TEA! I’m now a huuuuge fan of tea. Pash has introduced me to Earl Grey which I’m obsessesing over with raw honey and a dash of almond or coconut milk.
- Also, peppermint and chamomile tea’s are calming for your tummy and nervous-system – too much stress can cause your stomach to flare up and get upset.
- I also have Turmeric Latte’s which are anti-inflammatory and healing for the gut (do half plant or nut-based milk with water).
- Water with Chlorophyll (I use one from Swisse) but you can get one from your local health-shop – it helps to detox your liver and keeping your insides alkaline.
I’ll probably still have a coffee on a Sunday or one every-other week, just out of pure enjoyment, but my stomach will be able to process that far better, than the non-stop, mindless coffee-drinking on a daily basis.
So, maybe ask yourself; is it time to ditch the coffee-drinking because it’s purely a habit or could you even cut down on it? It’s food for thought, and you could be healing yourself further, if you have stomach-problems like myself. Or even just challenge yourself and your mind by quitting coffee, even if it’s just for a week or two.
Please, keep in mind that I’m not a health professional and this advice is purely from what I’ve tested on my own body – everyone is different and whilst some may work on my body, it may work differently on yours.