Let me begin by saying that it is important for us all to understand that although we share physiological/biological and other similarities, we have all experienced different lifestyles that are profoundly influential over our current state of health (good or bad).
The environment along with our personal lifestyles and surroundings present many types of “stress” that influence every “body,” and how that “body” is capable of interpreting a stress is highly dependent upon that individuals current level of vitality!
This is important to you because there are many ideas out there as to what is “healthy” and what is “not healthy.” What I observe as painfully obvious is that not only are we severely misinformed and confused about these issues, we are completely unaware of what might be present within our own environment that could potentially and/or presently be weakening our foundations.
In addition to this idea, and more in alignment with what I am sharing with you today, I also want you to consider that certain things suggested as “unhealthy” might not be all that bad and it is the way that they are being incorporated that may not be optimal. Meaning that with a few shifts these things can actually assist in the healing process!
As suggested by Ray Peat in his article, “Caffeine: A vitamin-like nutrient or adaptogen,” he states, “any of the essential nutrients, if used in isolation, can be used as a drug for a specific effect on an organism that it wouldn’t normally have when eaten as a component of ordinary food.”
As a caffeine drinker I find this point very important because this very idea is one of the bigger issues when it comes to drinking coffee. How many of you wake up in the morning, get ready, pass up breakfast and head to the nearest coffee shop for a 24 oz cup of joe in preparation for the day and as a comfort tool for the drive into work? This is a problem on many levels and fully embraces what I discussed earlier…is it the actual coffee or how it is being consumed that presents the issue?
Caffeine increases the metabolic rate which increases the consumption of glucose (our bodies main source of energy).
What does that mean to you?
When we wake up in the morning we have to remember that our bodies have been fasting for anywhere from 6 hours to 8 hours and that within this time a huge demand for energy (glucose), necessary for rebuilding and repairing, has been placed on the body. Any energy output by the body (keeping in mind that every function of the body requires energy, just like your vehicle requires gasoline, oil, and other fluids to run optimally) requires energy input by way of the nutrients we receive from the foods we eat. If these nutrients are not provided in the right amounts at the right time and are not the right type, the body stimulates a stress response as a back up mechanism for energy production.
This back up plan stimulates the release of cortisol and adrenaline, which assists in the mobilization of energy in the way of stored glycogen from the liver to increase blood sugar (fight or flight). When glycogen stores are depleted, and/or our bodies are being challenged by an inability to absorb sugar into our cells (diabetes, hypoglycemia, etc.), the release of adrenaline will cause fatty acids to be drawn into the blood from fat stores. Cortisol on the other hand, causes tissue protein to be broken down in to amino acids, and then to fat and sugar for use as energy.
This introduces an entirely new issue at hand as many people limit the intake of protein into their diets or due to chronic stress become protein deficient. If the diet does not contain enough protein to maintain the essential organs, especially the heart, lungs, and brain, they are supplied with protein from the skeletal muscles. This is important when considering your bodies ability to interpret and manage stress, whether it was initiated from caffeine or another source in your environment.
Because of the amino acid composition in muscle proteins, their destruction stimulates the formation of additional cortisol, to accelerate the movement of amino acids from the less important tissues to the essential ones.
The amino acid tryptophan, from the catabolism of muscle tissue protein, as well as from dietary protein, is a precursor to the production of seratonin. Seratonin activates the pituitary stress hormones, increases cortisol, intensifies catabolism and leads to the release of more tryptophan from muscle tissue! IT’S A VICIOUS CYCLE AND THIS IS ONLY PART OF IT!!!
On a more positive note, caffeine stimulates the uptake (inactivation or storage) of seratonin, increases metabolic energy and tends to improve mood, which is one reason why coffee drinkers may have a lower incidence of suicide then non-drinkers. It is the excess seratonin (produced through the chronic stress) that causes several features of depression, such as learned helplessness and reduced metabolic rate.
Why is this a problem?
Because…everything challenges our ability to maintain blood sugar and when it comes to how we are starting each and every day, we are not getting started on the right foot! When this cycle has been initiated it becomes very difficult to shift it as the body is stuck in playing catch up. When we are unable to stop the cycle we increase our susceptibility to disease.
How can caffeine assist in reversing this vicious cycle?
First let me again reiterate myself by saying that caffeine (according to many studies and presented quite well in Ray’s article that I have provided you) is not the culprit. Mismanagement of blood sugar by not eating frequently (refueling first thing in the morning), not eating the right foods in the proper ratio and the proper amounts for you, not taking the time to rest, not taking care of yourself mentally and physically and other lifestyle factors are!
So if you are like me and enjoy a little caffeine, be sure that you are taking care of yourself and that you are not turning something good into something that could potentially kill you!
Few things to consider if you are a coffee drinker:
1. Schedule time in to eat something as soon as you wake up in the morning to help in restoring your depleted energy supply
2. Limit yourself to a reasonable amount of coffee in the morning and take your time while drinking it. Coffee can bare a negative effect when consumed in large doses over a short period of time.
3. Always avoid drinking coffee on an empty stomach.
4. Eat more frequent meals and always include a balance of healthy carbohydrates, proteins and fats.