Kicking the Coffee Habit

imagesMmmm…Coffee! 90% of North Americans drink this legal, psychoactive drug each day. It gives energy and brings alertness, it boosts mood and helps you to be “on”. There are even some compelling scientific studies demonstrating that regular coffee consumption prevents heart disease and type 2 diabetes. My issue with regular coffee drinking, is much like my issue with regular alcohol drinking. It’s not for everyone, there is a safe upper limit and there are many other lifestyle and nutritional factors that can be implemented in your health regimen for disease prevention. There are many downsides to the use of coffee and other caffeinated beverages on a regular basis.

For most people, 300 mg of caffeine daily is the safe limit which is equivalent to around 2 to 3 (250 ml) cups. Some of the negative effects associated with chronic caffeine consumption include: hypertension, elevated heart rate, anxiety, panic attacks, muscle twitching, osteoporosis, increased urination, increased elimination of minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, heartburn and insomnia.

If you are thinking about weaning from coffee, do it slowly to avoid the withdrawal symptoms. Headaches, fatigue, lethargy and constipation are some of the symptoms to be weary of.

How to Wean

The weaning process can take place over 2 weeks to 4 weeks or more, depending on how much coffee is regularly consumed.

Step 1: Reduce the size of the cups/container used
Step 2: Drink 1/3 decaffeinated (ie. Kicking Horse – Swiss water method to avoid the chemicals involved in the conventional decaffeination process) and 2/3 caffeinated
Step 3: Drink 1/2 decaffeinated, ½ caffeinated
Step 4: Drink 2/3 decaffeinated and 1/3 caffeinated
Step 5: Replace with green tea (less caffeine, contains antioxidants, boosts metabolism)
Step 6: Switch over to a decaffeinated/herbal tea or stick with green tea (contains approximately 35 mg of caffeine per cup)

Other Tips

-Sleep (get to bed at a decent hour) and add in/boost the frequency of your exercise (improves mood and energy)
-Eat meals regularly (keeps blood sugar and insulin levels stable and prevents craving for sugary snacks)
-Eat fiber to prevent constipation (examples include: hemp seeds, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, fruits and vegetables, steel cut oatmeal and whole grains)
-Drink water and add some lemon (improves digestion, supports liver). There are chemicals in coffee that disrupt the liver’s normal detoxification process.

Supplements  (consult with your ND for individualized dosing)

-Electrolytes (green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, avocados, bananas, Ener-C (natural electrolyte replacement pack), coconut water (natural electrolyte replacement found in nature)
-Vitamin C – an antioxidant that supports the adrenal glands (stress hormone producing glands) and the liver.
-B Complex boosts energy and mood. During times of stress your body utilizes more B vitamins and vitamin C as these nutrients are required for producing stress hormones such as cortisol in the body.

Here is the link to my segment on Global’s News at Noon, where I help the host, Antony Robart, kick his coffee habit.

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