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Caffeine and Your Adrenals — Could They Be Paying Dearly?

Part 1 - Your “Pick-Me-Up” Could Be Slowing You Down: What You Need to Know About Caffeine and Adrenal Fatigue So often, when people are struggling with feeling exhausted and worn down, they turn to coffee or other caffeinated drinks to make it through the day. When they come to me for help and I gently suggest they cut back on caffeine t...heir reaction exhibits just how important they feel caffeine is to their survival; some break down crying, while others emphatically say “No coffee? No way. I’m not doing that.” But when your adrenals aren’t working properly there are a lot of factors at play, and caffeine is definitely one of them. Cutting back on caffeine is one way to offer your adrenals the support they need to heal. It’s certainly a cultural norm to use caffeine to get us going in the morning. Just look at all the memes out there that tout the essential role of caffeine in our lives. Many of my clients say that their need for caffeine is priority one when they wake up; they even warn their families not to speak to them before they’ve had that first cup of coffee, tea, soda, or in a rather disturbing recent trend, energy drink of the day. So, I can understand the shocked reaction I see when I suggest avoiding caffeine. But here’s the thing… I’m not actually suggesting that you shouldn’t have any caffeine. As with most things, moderation is key. But when coffee, or any other form of caffeine, is the only thing keeping you going, and you find yourself caught in cycle of caffeine-induced ups and downs, it’s time to take a closer look. Often, an adrenal imbalance that prevents restful sleep is hiding behind the caffeine crutch. Caffeine won’t cause adrenal dysfunction all by itself, but your body changes with excessive intake of caffeine, putting stress on the adrenal glands. And if you choose an energy drink or coffee over a good night’s sleep or eating right, your adrenal health will suffer. Let’s examine the impact of caffeine on your body – more specifically, on your adrenals. Understanding the Connection between Caffeine and Adrenal Release: We all have a natural, physical response to stress. This “flight or fight” reaction is involuntary, and essential. The release of stress hormones – epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol are meant to jolt you into action when real danger is present. But caffeine masquerades as an emergency, spurring your adrenals into action when there’s no need for these stress hormones. And 100-200 mg of caffeine all it takes to set this response in motion.... Can you recall how you feel right after you drink and espresso? If you pay close attention, you’ll probably notice your heart begin beat faster, your muscles contract, and you’ll feel the instant energy from the sugar and free fatty acids your liver has released into your bloodstream. You may also notice feelings of anxiety or increased worry. But usually, when you’re having a caffeinated drink, there’s no actual emergency. Your body is ready to conquer a predator, even if you’re sitting enjoying social time with a friend. That boost of energy works well when you need it – to react quickly while driving, for instance. The most critical function your adrenals have is to help you survive. But their secondary function, to provide balance in your hormones throughout your life, is important too – and even more so as you age. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post - Recovering from Caffeine Related Adrenal Fatigue: Finding the Right Balance Happy New Year from all of us at Higher Health! X Yours in health, Maria Lucey, Nutritionist See More

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