I’ve always felt a bit like an alien in society, because I don’t do caffeine. The responses I receive when I disclose this to people range from confusion, to amazement and utter disbelief. I was raised in a household where nobody drank coffee or sodas, and so it was just never on my radar. And in college, when chronic procrastination finally resulted in a situation where I needed to stay up and study way past my bedtime, I experimented with caffeine pills, which was probably the worst four hours I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. Every single part of my mind and body were asleep as I tried to review the notes I took over the course of the semester, except for my eyes, which wouldn’t close. I felt like a walking zombie. That was my first and last experiment with synthetic caffeine and somehow I still managed to graduate college with a decent G.P.A.
When I speak at health seminars around the country, the subject of caffeine comes up pretty frequently and everyone is curious to know my thoughts about whether it’s healthy or not. It’s like people subconsciously know that there’s something deeply unsettling about their daily (or multiple times a day) habit and they’re looking for someone to help relieve them of this internal conflict.
Is it toxic to the body?
Is it toxic to the brain?
Will consuming it daily have long term negative health consequences down the road?
Something so natural can’t be bad for you right?
Sometimes I refuse to broach the topic, since so many people are sensitive about it, but when I do respond, I always pause and moderate my voice before proceeding. So if you’re reading this now, imagine that I am speaking in a soft, loving, and non-judgmental tone...
There are several reasons why caffeine, consumed on a regular basis, is not good for your body. The first is that caffeine produces a dehydrating effect within your body, and therefore the cells on your body don’t have enough fluid to do their jobs properly or flush out toxins. And when you have cells functioning at low efficiency and toxins building up in and around the cells due to chronic dehydration, then you are setting the stage for degeneration and chronic health conditions in your body. We all know how important it is to drink enough water and stay properly hydrated. So it’s ironic, that at the same time we often engage in regular habits that deplete the water in our system, like eating salty food and drinking alcohol and various caffeinated beverages.
The second reason caffeine is not good for your body is that you have this thing called the endocrine gland system, which contains pretty powerful energy centers (i.e. chakras) where each gland in your body is located. The thyroid and adrenal glands are your two “energy” glands. The thyroid gland is located in your neck area and unfortunately, most of the American population is suffering from chronic hypothyroidism for various reasons I’ll go into in another post.
In addition, your adrenal glands are the two little glands that sit on top of each of your kidneys and handle your stress response, also known as your “fight or flight” mechanism. They also control all sorts of important functions in tandem with your autonomic nervous system, that regulate how you breathe, how fast your heart beats, the rate at which you metabolize sugar (see below), how efficiently you move waste through your colon (see below), etc. You know, pretty important stuff. And glands are funny in the sense that if you overwork them, they stop functioning (surprise!), which many people do by living with constant stress and living in a constant state of fear. And it doesn’t matter if the threat is real or not. Have you watched the news lately? Exactly.
Caffeine is just another factor that constantly stimulates your adrenal glands into action at a subtle level, and taxes an already overtaxed mechanism. The more your glands go down in function, the more you'll need something external to get you going in the morning...or keep you going throughout the day. And while caffeine provides an artificial boost, that boost has to be artificially maintained and it's characterized by "peaks and valleys". On the other hand, healthy endocrine glands provide a natural and sustained energy source that is consistent and constant.
The third reason that caffeine might not be so good for you is simply that’s it’s usually added to a beverage product that is simultaneously laced with copious amounts of sugar. The only reason I visit Starbucks these days is to use their free Wi-Fi while I travel. But I see the things that people order and it's a bit shocking. I’m not sure when it became popular to have dessert for breakfast, or during multiple times per day, but all of those pumpkin spiced lattes, and frappuccinos look like pretty decadent treats from my perspective. So you’re getting this double whammy of stimulation from these caffeinated, sweetened drinks, and the sugar is wreaking havoc on all the cells in your body, especially those in your brain and nervous system, in ways that science is just starting to figure out.
And the final reason to forgo the caffeine, is that it can mask serious problems with your digestive health. Ideally, you want to be having regular bowel movements 2-3 times per day on average. I often come across people who say they have to consume caffeine daily, because it’s the only way that they can “go” in the morning. Listen to me carefully... You do not want to be in the position where you are regularly using any sort of external stimulant to remove waste from your colon, whether it’s caffeine or laxatives – which is one of the most popular OTC items these days. If you’re not pooping on a regular basis, most likely, you are not suffering from a "caffeine deficiency." Ha! Instead, you probably have sluggish adrenal glands or a diet and lifestyle imbalance that needs to be addressed sooner, rather than later -- that is only being masked by your caffeine habit.
But I really don’t want to make this article about demonizing caffeine. Really I don't. And I’m sure you would love to continue drinking your morning coffee and afternoon latte with a somewhat clear conscience. Right? So I have an idea. Let’s shift our focus and start to examine some of the potential reasons why you would require an external stimulant in order to live your day to day life. #realtalk My personal theory is that the regular consumption of toxic foods and/or beverages is primarily fueled by underlying toxic thoughts, emotions, belief systems, and/or lifestyle habits. And those are the things that are worth paying attention to and consciously shifting, instead of engaging in some self-imposed guilt trip or endless mind-numbing debate about the latest scientific studies on whether caffeine is good for you or bad for you. It is my opinion that nothing is inherently good or bad, it’s all about how you use it in your life and for what reasons, that makes all the difference.
Stay Tuned Next Week for Part 2 of This Series!
LaShanda Greene is a former CPA turned Health Educator and Wellness Consultant. She overcame a long list of health challenges five years ago by cleansing her body, changing her diet, meditating daily, and pursuing a more fulfilling life and career path. She's passionate about helping people address the root causes of their chronic health issues, heal mind, body, and spirit, and live an empowered life filled with joy, excitement, and purpose. She's currently working on a book and traveling the world to learn about various healing modalities, as well as speaking publicly about natural healing and the health benefits of detoxification. Click here to learn more about her new educational video series entitled "Learn With LaShanda".