Many women who come to me for help balancing their hormones tell me that they already eat clean. They’ve given up gluten, sworn off sugar, and they can’t remember the last time they ate a Chicken McNugget. And while all of that is awesome – and will definitely make it a whole lot easier for them to fix their endocrine imbalances – many of these women are unknowingly sabotaging all their efforts with one daily staple they just can’t quit: coffee.
If you cringe at the thought of giving up your morning cup of Joe, you’re not alone. But the harsh truth is this: coffee and all caffeinated drinks pose real hormonal risks for women. Not only does caffeine increase the likelihood of developing cysts in the breasts and ovaries, but it can actually disrupt your entire hormonal cascade for a full 24 hours. That means one seemingly innocent morning latte can send your hormones spinning for the rest of the day, and no amount of clean eating can make up for it.
Caffeine causes your cortisol levels to soar, and if you’re dumping cream and sugar into your caffeinated concoction, the sweet stuff will go straight to your bloodstream, causing you to crave sugar and carbs when the inevitable blood sugar crash hits. Because your entire endocrine system is occupied dealing with the repercussions of that one cup of coffee, crucial parts of your hormonal health are ignored. The only thing that can reset the dysfunction is a night of sleep…but guess what disturbs restful sleep? That’s right, caffeine. The result is a restless night and a subsequent groggy morning that leaves you begging for more caffeine.
It’s a maddening cycle, right? And yet so many women rely on coffee as their drug of choice to get through the day. But because women metabolize caffeine at a slower pace than men, we’re more prone to experience its detrimental effects. But men and women alike are susceptible to one major side effect of caffeine: infertility.
Scary, right? But it’s true — there’s plenty of emerging research to back up the assertion that coffee ups the risk of infertility:
- Women and men who consumed 3 cups of coffee have a 74% higher chance of miscarriage.
- Caffeine can make it difficult to conceive because of its association with sub-optimal or suppressed fertility.
- If you drink caffeinated beverages early on in pregnancy (maybe even before you know you’re pregnant), you can increase your risk of early pregnancy loss.
- Just like alcohol and cigarettes, caffeine is considered an impairment to fertility.
- Men who drink 2 or more cups of coffee a day have a lower chance of conception via IVF.
- Coffee increases cortisol levels and stresses the adrenals, which can disrupt ovulation.
- Coffee depletes vital vitamins and minerals needed for ovulation and healthy fertility (including absolutely necessary B vitamins and folate) and the acidity of coffee can cause problems with gut health.
Scary stuff, right? The good news is that you absolutely can detox from coffee. And you don’t have to go through crazy withdrawals to do it. Here’s how:
- Detox during your ovulation phase when you have the most natural energy reserves.
- Nourish your adrenal glands with adaptogens that help combat stress. Rhodiola, ashwagandha and maca root powder are good options.
- Get your dose of magnesium through an Epsom salt bath or topical supplement to replenish your mineral reserves, balance your mood, and combat any headaches.
- In addition to your usual B-complex, take added B5 and B12.
- Drink coconut water to replenish your electrolytes and stay hydrated.
- Do gentle exercises like walking and yoga, but avoid heavy cardio during the week or two after you cut caffeine.
- Start every day with a nutritious, substantial breakfast, which will give you fuel for the whole day.
And if you really can’t give up the feeling of a cozy, comforting hot beverage in the morning, take heart. There are plenty of healthful coffee alternatives worth trying:
- Kukicha or “twig” tea doesn’t taste like most herbal teas and, in fact, has a nutty taste – very similar to that of coffee.
- Maca root powder in warm non-dairy milk with a little raw honey as a sweetener not only tastes coffee-like, but also helps with your detox.
- An herbal tea with dandelion root.
- Burdock root tea.
Finally, don’t forget to audit your period. Every month, your period is a valuable biomarker telling you exactly how fertile you are right now based on the color of your bleed. Find out what your current fertile factor is with the Period Type™ Quiz.