Caffeine... good or bad for you?

Well, as with everything that has to do with personalization of medicine, it could be either one. In Ayurveda, the kapha body types can actually benefit from a little caffeine every once in a while. However, pitta and vata people usually do well to stay away from it.

What is up with caffeine and how do you know what is right for you?

I have studied Ayurveda and functional medicine and come at this question from the standpoint of, “each person is different”. What does caffeine do in the body? It’s a psychoactive stimulant. That’s why it’s put in diet pills and pain relievers. That’s also why, if your adrenals are not functioning well, it’s bad for you. When ingested, caffeine increases neuron firing rates in the brain and acts as an “on switch” for the sympathetic nervous system.

Effects of caffeine on the nervous system

Remember the sympathetic nervous system is the regulator of the fight or flight response to stress. If it’s turned on, and this can happen with the amount of caffeine in a small cup of coffee (200 mg), your adrenal glands will begin to release stress hormones that are sending the “danger signal” messages to be hyper-alert. This is the effect you are looking for when you reach for that early morning coffee-wake up and be alert! However, your pupils can dilate, heart rate increase (even to palpitations), your liver releases sugar and fatty acids, and your acidity level increases. With the increase of cortisol that is released by the adrenal glands, your body believes it is in danger. You will never lose weight or have sexual desire if you are in a constant state of emergency preparedness. Remember, it’s not safe to stop and have a baby if you are a zebra being chased by a lion and running for your life. This creates a cycle of craving more caffeine (and usually carbohydrates too) in order to stay focused, leading to being wired and tired. Additionally, the extra glucose released into the blood stream when we are in emergency response can create insulin resistance and torsal weight gain.

What are the warning signs that caffeine may be unhealthy for me?

If you feel you need coffee to wake up in the morning please come in and get your adrenals and hormones checked. For women, this is vitally important if you are going to maintain a healthy hormone balance to take you through peri-menopause, menopause, and post-menopause in a healthy, balanced way. If you experience an afternoon dip in energy and brain fog in the afternoon and want more caffeine, you know you are in an un-sustainable cycle of adrenal-hormone imbalance that can be easily fixed.

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