Updated: Jul 6, 2020
Sometimes, our best laid plans fall by the wayside.
Your kid will wear a zipped-up sweatshirt but no polo shirt underneath it. You won't figure this out until he is checked for dress code at school.
Your "Sparkling Champagne" bathroom candle will not only set off the fire alarm during your cooking class but also leave a black soot spot on your bathroom wall.
And your friend, Coffee, will turn into a menacing, adrenal-killing, PMS-intensifying foe. A monster, really.
How is this fair?
It's really not. Let's say it all together. It's not fair! Why, coffee??
Before you leave me hate mail on Facebook, let's discuss. Coffee is only a problem for those people, women especially, who are in some stage of adrenal fatigue.
(How do we assess adrenal fatigue? Don't guess. You should really be tested. We can figure out what your cortisol levels are and how physically stressed your body is. Then, we can formulate a plan to begin to heal you.)
If you are a person who is not unusually fatigued, who is not struggling with intensifying PMS, who does not deal with random headaches, who has not put on 5-10 mystery pounds over the past few years, or who has not developed strange unexplained symptoms like cold hands and feet, then now is the time to check your stock portfolio or find a hilarious cat video. If you feel like you may be struggling with adrenal fatigue/ HPA Axis Dysfunction, read on...
What are a few other symptoms of adrenal fatigue, or HPA Axis Dysfunction?
-Mild depression or anxiety
-Multiple food or inhalant allergies
-Lethargy and lack of energy
-Increased effort to perform daily tasks
-Decreased ability to handle stress
-Dry and thin skin
-Low blood sugar (shakiness, irritability, headache relieved by eating)
-Low body temperature (cold hands and feet)
-Low to no libido
-Poor memory or concentration, "Brain Fog"
-Insomnia but wanting a nap
-Weight gain around the middle
-Lightheadedness upon standing
-An increased need for salt
-Pain in the upper back or neck
-Unexplained mood swings
While we have talked before about things that can possibly cause adrenal fatigue, like ketogenic diets, there are other things that can contribute to your body's breakdown of adaptability and its compensatory reserves.
Like too much coffee. Notice I did not say All Coffee. Just Too Much Coffee.
How much is too much?
My girlfriend asked me this question over the weekend at our cooking class. I asked her how much she was drinking and she got sheepish look on her face. I won't embarrass her because I know the pull of the coffee idol. I have consumed amounts similar to her at different times in my life.
I will make it easy for you.
Anything over one standard cup of coffee (6-8oz.)
for an extended period of time
will tax your adrenal glands.
We women need to nurture and pamper our adrenal glands, not force them to work overtime. Remember, your adrenal glands are little cone-shaped organs that sit on top of your kidneys and produce a cortisol response at the behest of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Any stress, real or perceived, internal or external, will tax your adrenal glands and cause more and more cortisol to be released. This, more often than not, leads to what we FDNs call "Metabolic Chaos". The metabolic system is thus broken and needs to be gently led back toward health and homeostasis.
So, to reiterate.
1 cup of coffee. Per day. Like, total.
Some people do better just cutting it out completely. I will warn you, do this slowly. Quitting coffee cold turkey will reward you with a splitting headache. But if you like deadlines and goals, you could cut coffee out completely. Just for now, while you heal.
I realized that I should probably attempt to do this when my husband asked me 4 days in a row, "Why are you so angry this morning? I know you worked out and read your Bible and pooped! What do you have to be mad about?" (He knows me).
After thinking on this, I realized that coffee may make me a little angry. It heightens my stress response so little things irritate me. It wasn't always this way. Coffee and I used to enjoy a wonderful relationship. Coffee woke me up, made me feel better, got me through my homeschool days, and was waiting for me after lunch when I was ready to work. Even the smell or promise of coffee sent little shivers of excitement through me.
But fickle, self-serving relationships come and go. And sometimes, it is better to take a break.
So I dropped the coffee and replaced it with lemon water. I will admit, it sucks. I don't like it. I miss coffee. But I am still healing from Stage 3 Adrenal Exhaustion and I will make this sacrifice for a short time so that my body and my HPA Axis can rest.
I would encourage you to do the same, if you are struggling with (3) or more of the aforementioned symptoms. Remember, you don't have to give it up completely. Please, still enjoy your single cup of coffee. But as the day goes on, remember that your body needs rest and repair. Coffee does not help with that process. Know that Coffee will be waiting for you tomorrow morning.
I have a hack for you, if you love your coffee and you also are dealing with some adrenal malfunction. I call it Hormone-Proof Bulletproof Coffee. I love Bulletproof Coffee, but I don't love it for a meal replacement for women who are stressed and sick and skinny. My coffee is not meant to be a meal replacement. Enjoy it along with some avocado and breakfast sausage. Enjoy it like it is a fine glass of wine. And then stop. And continue on with your day. And realize that coffee does not control you and may not be the healthiest option for you at this point.
Weary women: here is your recipe:
1. Coffee: try to use as clean of a coffee as possible. I like the Bulletproof brand. It could be hype, I don't know. At $18.00/ pack, it is a little steep. So buy the best you can. Because you are only drinking one cup. Organic is fine. But full disclosure- Beau and I like regular ol' Cafe Verona from Starbucks.
2. Collagen Powder: Collagen will give you a hefty dose of protein with a very mild flavor. One scoop contains 10 grams of easily digestible protein and only 40 calories. Collagen powder is also a building block of strong hair, skill, nails, and joints. This is my favorite. Also consider this creamer- it has many of the same benefits.
3. D-Ribose: This is my secret weapon for fatigue. Only take a little bit at the beginning. D-Ribose is a simple sugar that directly feeds your mitochondria, providing instant energy. Its effects are noticeable after about 12 days, so give it time. (If you buy D-Ribose from my dispensary, message me and I will give you 10% off your entire order).
4. Maca: This supplement will regulate hormones and has a testosterone-raising effect. If one of your most worrisome symptoms is a total lack of libido, make sure you add maca to your Hormone-Proof coffee. I like the maca from Trader Joe's. It is gelatinzed, so it is more bioavailable.
5. MCT Oil: MCT oil is a fat that is satiating and burned quickly by the body. I again submit to the Bulletproof hype here. I buy a three pack of Dave Asprey's Bulletproof MCT oil at once. He says that unlike regular MCT oil (a coconut-oil derivative that is easy to digest and gives immediate energy), his MCT oil will not give you "Disaster Pants". Um, sold.
6. Ghee: Ghee is butter with the casein and the lactose removed, which means that people who are lactose or casein sensitive can generally enjoy it. Ghee is also a clean-burning source of calories and fuel. And it tastes yummy. It give the coffee a creamy texture. It also contains what Weston A. Price called "Activator X", which allows you to better absorb all of the amazing polyphenols and antioxidants that the coffee bean provides. I get mine from Sprouts.
7. Cinnamon regulates blood sugar. Dysregulated blood sugar furthers adrenal fatigue. Cinnamon is also a potent antioxidant. And it tastes delicious. In autumn, consider subbing 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice. Try to buy organic, if available. I get mine in a giant container from Sam's Club.
Try my coffee and let me know what you think. If you are scared to make it by yourself, pop by and I'll make one for you.
I'll only let you have one, I promise.
Yours in health,