Many of my patients drink one, two, three, and sometimes more cups of coffee a day as a matter of course. How else are you going to wake up in the morning, have enough energy throughout the day, and focus and concentrate…and even have your daily bowel movement? Caffeine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that is so engrained in our cultural senses that we don’t think about the harm it’s causing on a micro and macro level. When fall and winter are upon us and the days are darker, colder, and shorter, most of us reach for something that will perk us up and warm us up. So, what’s wrong with caffeine (especially coffee) and what does it have to do with autoimmunity?
Coffee beans contain lectins. The little-known truth is lectins are found in most foods. However, they are more concentrated in grains, beans, and nuts. They are Mother Nature’s insecticide and when consumed in large quantities by humans can cause trouble in the small intestine. Lectins bind with carbohydrates and stick to the intestinal lining and damage the tiny tender villi who have the huge job of shuttling nutrients into the bloodstream. Lectins are a big root cause of leaky gut syndrome and implicated in autoimmune diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colitis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, restless leg syndrome, rosacea, Raynaud’s, eczema, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and more (insert any chronic inflammatory issue and all autoimmune diseases). Consuming coffee is a big reason people with autoimmunity don’t heal. See my Master Class on Lectins and Autoimmune Reversal.
Caffeine is addictive. For some reason, people seem to understand being addicted to Oxycontin is a bad thing, being addicted to alcohol is not good for anyone, being addicted to gambling, porn, shopping, and cigarettes…not great. But the highly addictive nature of caffeine is widely ignored and accepted as something that can even benefit your health. No…it doesn’t and it’s time to understand that the headaches, fatigue, brain fog, and aches and pains that occur when you try to stop your caffeine addiction are clear messages from the body that you are in the grips of a serious withdrawal. It’s even worse for those with specific genetic SNPs that cannot metabolize caffeine. You can do a genetics consultation if you want to know if you carry those addictive and under metabolizing SNPs for caffeine.
Caffeine leads to adrenal and mitochondrial burnout, hormone imbalance, and blood sugar roller coastering. Many people these days are practicing intermittent fasting. I am a huge fan of giving the body 16 good hours of rest so it can do something other than break down the foods you put into it. However, if your adrenals and mitochondria are in a fatigued state and you drink caffeine to keep on keeping on…you will wind up in an energy deficit. This is like a diabetic eating a candy bar and then taking extra insulin and thinking this will work out in the long run. It won’t and it doesn’t. Instead, your fatigued adrenals and mitochondria will drag your thyroid and the rest of your endocrine system down with them as you continue to drown out their messages to you by self-medicating with caffeine. If you are curious about the state of your adrenals and hormones you can check in on them doing a simple urine test.
Caffeine can inhibit the absorption of calcium and contribute to osteoporosis (bone loss). Caffeine leaches calcium from bones, sapping their strength. You lose about 6 milligrams of calcium for every 100 milligrams of caffeine ingested. And yes, this does mean tea and chocolate too. Alternatives to coffee are mushroom coffee, Capomo (my favorite), chicory coffee, and Dandy Blend (a dandelion based coffee alternative that is yummy and easy to make).
True sources of energy are found in whole foods packed with nutrients. Caffeine is not a food, it’s a drug. Foods that contain anti-nutrients still pack vital life force, but it’s found underneath the protective coating that can be hazardous to human health. Your body has supported you for years and years, largely without appreciation and gratitude. It’s a good idea to turn toward it rather than away from it and ask it what it needs from you to continue to support you as you continue to age. This is the first step in learning how to reverse chronic inflammatory issues and autoimmune disease. Check out my Master Class on lectins and other anti-nutrients and discover how to properly test for antibodies to lectin containing foods and how to prepare them in a way that deactivates their toxic effect and activates their nutritional power.