Plus I share my thoughts on the Bulletproof Coffee trend
In my early 20’s during a routine GYN visit my doctor found a lump in my breast. Two other doctors arrived to examine it and the three of them were talking about it as if I wasn’t even there. My anxiety about potentially having something serious was mounting.
I remember being totally terrified, actually. Eventually, after what seemed like hours, they decided that it was a fluid filled cyst, so of course I asked what might have caused that. My GYN then asked me if I had been drinking lots of caffeine recently – the answer was a huge yes I had been to stay up late studying for finals – and then it came out that caffeine increases the tendency of tissue to produce cysts.
Caffeine causes cyst formation in the Breasts and Ovaries
Did you know that? I certainly didn’t! I LOVED coffee, espresso bars, the ritual, lattes – I’m not gonna lie, the stuff is delicious! After this scare, I began looking into caffeine and its effects on hormones. Turns out for women with PCOS, Fibroids, Endometriosis, Ovarian Cysts, and Fibrocystic breasts- caffeine is a guaranteed way to make more cysts. For everyone else with hormonal sensitivity, it might not cause cysts, but it will disrupt your system.
Sometimes it seems like coffee is our national drug of choice. We’re too often overworked, under-rested, plus poorly fed, and so coffee has become the crutch many of us use just to get through another busy day. A lot of people feel like coffee must be good for them in one way or another, and with all of the extraordinary marketing by big brands and continuously reported contradictory research, of course you would. The truth however is that we’re addicted and we don’t know the biochemical effects of this substance on our hormones.
Coffee is absolutely terrible when it comes to the female hormonal ecosystem and beyond this cyst formation situation there are 3 other reasons it’s not good for us ladies.
If you’re struggling with your period, fibroids, cysts of any kind in the breast or ovary, endometriosis, infertility, low sex drive, moodiness, low energy, and weight issues – coffee is making all of these problems much worse.
Reason #1 – You metabolize substances more slowly than men
The coffee-alcohol connection
Just like with alcohol, that other damaging yet socially-sanctified drink, women cannot tolerate caffeine (or any stimulant in fact) in the same way that men can.
We are brilliantly designed to conserve as much energy from whatever we’re taking in so we can grown other tiny humans in our uterus. Whether you are actively doing this or not, your body simply retains fluids for much longer and we metabolize the chemicals contained much more slowly.
Whereas liquids process through the male body at a rapid rate – men drink and urinate out both alcohol and caffeine fast and avoid much of the physical impact as a result.
Yet women are more likely than men to go without breakfast and drink coffee on an empty stomach, even using it as a meal replacement. This makes the negative physical impact even more profound and long-lasting.
Reason #2 – Caffeine disrupts your entire hormonal cascade for 24 hours
Your body on coffee/caffeine
This is the cyclical journey your body goes through when you drink coffee in the morning, on an empty stomach or not:
- If you add cream and sugar or grab any of the fancy coffees at Starbucks or Coffee Bean, your blood sugar will rise. Studies show the majority of women don’t actually enjoy the taste of coffee and will certainly add as much sugar and cream as possible to make it more palatable.
- The caffeine alone causes you to release extra cortisol which makes sure that any sugar goes straight into your bloodstream.
- That insulin surge makes you crave carbohydrates and sugar when your blood sugar level crashes, causing you to want to overeat or choose unhealthy foods.
- You are working at a hypoglycemic level, craving more carbohydrates and sugar to keep you going.
- Your whole endocrine function is focused entirely on dealing with the fall out of your morning coffee and everything else that desperately needs attention – your ovaries! -gets ignored.
- You cannot reset your body until you go to sleep and wake up the next day, and yet your sleep is disturbed for hours regardless of how long it’s been since the first coffee.
- You wake up groggy and your first instinct is to boost your energy with more coffee.
Reason #3 – Caffeine depletes the body of micronutrients essential for hormone balance
We all know not to drink coffee when we’re pregnant or breastfeeding, but the fact of the matter is – we shouldn’t be drinking it at all. At every stage it is bad news for your hormones.
Coffee drinking at any time of the day increases insomnia. Even one cup will disrupt your sleep for hours during the night and leave you tired in the morning. Lack of good sleep suppresses your healthy hormone production. Whether it’s trouble getting to sleep or trouble staying asleep, coffee is one of the main causes. Click here to figure out your sleep story and the best remedy, including cutting the coffee!
Coffee depletes magnesium and other nutrients and minerals that are vital for happy hormones, such as B vitamins. Here’s more from me on why magnesium is so very important for your ovaries.
The acidity of coffee causes an imbalance in your gut flora and makes it harder for you to absorb the goodness of even the healthiest of diets.
The Bulletproof Coffee dilemma
I love Dave Asprey and his work and I think Bulletproof Coffee is AMAZING…for men.
I do think that adding healthy fats to the coffee – especially the coconut oil – will definitely help your blood sugar cope with the caffeine.
However, for us ladies, the caffeine is still there, depleting your key hormone balancing micronutrients, spiking your cortisol and insulin and disrupting your endocrine function. You may also have a slightly fatty liver as a result of your hormonal issues, and you may have a hard time digesting not only the dairy, but also breaking down all of that fat and caffeine.
Many women are estrogen dominant and you only need to look as far as my post on dairy to see why I discourage this when dealing with hormonal issues. And if you’re here at the Flo Living blog, I’m guessing that you’re dealing with some hormonal issues.
The coffee detox – my 3-step guide to making the transition
Scenario 1: OK, I get that it’s bad for me, but I’m never going to cut it out completely. What can I do to minimize the damage?
If you want to wean yourself off, you need to first ask yourself this question – why do I drink coffee?
If it’s because you truly love the taste, I have a 3 step strategy for you to keep the habit under control and make it less harmful to your hormones.
If you like coffee because it keeps you awake and gives you energy, well I have a 3 step strategy for you too.
So, for those of you who just love the taste and do not rely on it to feel awake in the morning or to concentrate or to get through the day (be honest!) here’s how to minimize those bad effects:
- Ditch the White Stuff – Lose the sugar and the cream and minimize the blood sugar impact.
- Size Matters – Take the European approach to coffee drinking. Drink a small cup of fresh espresso, rather than a giant venti, trenti bucket from Starbucks.
- Only with Food – Again, the Europeans have this right, drink your small cup of coffee when you’re sat down, after or during a full meal. If you enjoy the taste, you should be savoring it – not gulping it down on the school run or as you dash to the office.
Scenario 2: Ok, I now see that this is probably making my symptoms worse and I want to stop, but the withdrawal is bad, what can I do to wean off of it for good?
For those of you who find yourselves groggy and tired even after what seems like a full night’s sleep, you might well be suffering with adrenal fatigue. Rather than jacking up your energy levels artificially, you need to think about healing your adrenal glands. Here’s how to start that process:
- Calorie Load for Breakfast – Eat a really good, big breakfast every day. Have a three egg omelette with spinach plus gluten-free bread and avocado. Make it the central meal of your day. This is eating with the natural biorhythm of your body. Your body needs fuel early rather than in the evening when it’s preparing for rest.
- Supplement Your Adrenal Function – Support your need for mental focus with ginkgo biloba and rhodiola. For natural and sustainable energy take ashwaganha, vitamin B12 and vitamin B5. To reduce stress and calm your cortisol, drink holy basil tea.
- My Ultimate Substitute – Swap coffee for kukicha or “twig” tea, which is made from the roasted stem from which green tea leaves are plucked. It has a nutty taste and is perfect any time of the day. It’s also alkalizing for the blood versus the acid-forming cup of coffee. I am a tea collector, and I know that most herbal tea over time just tastes like hot potpourri. But kukicha tea is in a non-floral, non-herbaceous class by itself – you will LOVE it (and want to keep it in your bag at all times!).
Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!
to your FLO,
Good things come in threes:
I want to hear from you
First, is coffee your drug of choice? Have you worried about how much you drink?
Second, will you try to wean yourself off? Let me know how it goes!
Third, you know every one you know is hormonal – spread a little good ovary karma and share this article on social by clicking the buttons below
Need more Hormone Help?
If you’re needing some health upgrading, it’s time you started you looking into what’s going on with your hormones.
I’ve designed a 4 day hormone detox and evaluation to help you understand exactly what’s out of whack and how you can start getting back to balance so that your hormones no longer have to suffer.
Click here to get your FREE detox and evaluation!