Attention, Coffee Drinkers! Did you know that caffeine disrupts your hormones for a full 24 hours?
That’s not all. Caffeine stays in women’s bodies longer than men’s and it robs them of essential hormone-balancing nutrients and minerals. Studies link coffee consumption with infertility and poor gut health, which interferes with your body’s ability to detox excess (toxic) hormones.
Then there’s the link between caffeine consumption and cysts in your breasts and ovaries.
In other words, coffee is dangerous stuff if you suffer from hormone imbalances… and it can be dangerous stuff in general. That’s because many people can’t tolerate caffeine and don’t know it.
So that brings up two key questions: how can you tell if you have a hormone imbalance? And how can you tell if you have a caffeine intolerance?
Let’s start with signs of a hormone imbalance…
How to Tell if You Have a Hormone Imbalance
How do you know if your hormones could use a little TLC…and that caffeine might be something you should eliminate from your daily routine?
Here are some signs and symptoms of a hormone imbalance:
Severe period cramps
You have been steadily gaining weight for a few months or years
You can’t seem to lose weight even with a healthy diet and increased exercise
Breast or ovarian cysts
Low sex drive
I encourage any woman who is experiencing one or more of these symptoms to ditch caffeine for good, especially if you don’t tolerate caffeine well…and research shows that only 10 percent of the population produces enough of the specific enzyme that helps breakdown and eliminate caffeine. That means 9 out of 10 of you reading this right now are caffeine intolerant, whether you suffer from hormone imbalances of not!
How to Tell If You Have a Caffeine Intolerance
As I just mentioned, caffeine intolerance is surprisingly common, but most of us think of ourselves as immune. Three cups of coffee each morning might affect my coworkers or my sister, but not me! I explain the genetics of caffeine intolerance—and why hormone imbalances and caffeine intolerance often go hand in hand—below, but first let’s take a look at the signs and symptoms of caffeine intolerance.
Almost everyone who drinks coffee or other caffeinated beverages will recognize that familiar pick-me-up feeling that caffeine brings. But if you experience any of the symptoms on the following list—symptoms that are often attributed to other conditions or physiological responses—you might be caffeine intolerant. Symptoms like:
Fatigue (yes, fatigue!)
High blood pressure
Poorly balanced blood sugar
Feeling wired but tired
In many cases, these symptoms are chalked up to other diagnoses, like adrenal fatigue or anxiety disorders, but the real culprit might be coffee OR the causes of your symptoms are multifactorial and coffee consumption is one of the factors.
Why Caffeine is SO BAD for Hormones
Here’s why caffeine is so problematic for women with hormone imbalances:
Caffeine Problem #1: Caffeine may increase the risk of benign breast disease (BBD), and specifically a form of BBD called atypical hyperplasia, which is a marker of increased breast cancer risk. This is scary stuff! One in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, so it is wise to take every step you can to protect yourself. Giving up caffeine is easy (and free!), and comes with a host of other benefits, like reducing anxiety and supporting better blood sugar balance.
The good news? The same study suggests that taking multivitamin supplements can have a protective effect against developing BBD.
Caffeine Problem #2: Caffeine consumption is linked to infertility. A woman is more likely to miscarry if she and/or her partner drink more than two caffeinated beverages per day in the weeks leading up to conception, according to research from the National Institutes of Health and Ohio State University. Women who consumed two caffeinated beverages every day during the first seven weeks of pregnancy were also more likely experience pregnancy loss.
Studies suggest that caffeine consumption may delay pregnancy among fertile women.
Male partners, beware! Some research suggests that caffeine consumption among wannabe dads may reduce the chances of conception. Men who drank two or more cups of coffee per day had only a one in five chance of conception through IVF.
Caffeine increases cortisol levels, and high cortisol sends signals to the body that it is not an ideal time for conception.
Finally, caffeine depletes the body of vital nutrients needed for ovulation and healthy fertility (including B vitamins and folate). If you hope to become a mom someday, you need optimal levels of five key micronutrients, which you will want to take in supplement form…and you won’t want to deplete them at the same time by drinking coffee! Don’t do the good work of getting your essential micronutrients and then shoot yourself in the foot by drinking caffeine.
Caffeine Problem #3: If you struggle with hormone imbalances (and if you’re reading this right now, you or someone you love probably does), it can be sign that your body has a hard time metabolizing caffeine. Hormone imbalances might be a sign that you don’t process caffeine efficiently. That’s because the same process in the liver that helps metabolize caffeine is also involved in the metabolism of estrogen.
Caffeine is broken down by the liver using the enzyme CYP1A2. Your ability to produce this enzyme is regulated by the CYP1A2 gene. If you have a mutation in this gene, it will affect how your liver breaks down and eliminates excess caffeine. You will also have a harder time processing and eliminating excess estrogen.
Based on your gene variation, you’ll either make a lot of this enzyme (and be a successful caffeine swiller) or a little (and have a tough time with caffeine). Turns out only 10% of the population make a lot of this enzyme. That’s just one in 10 of us! So if you fall into the majority — if you’re one of the 9 out of 10 women who don’t process caffeine efficiently — you also, very likely, have a buildup of estrogen in your body. And estrogen dominance is what gives rise to a lot of the unpleasant period problems you experience.
This is why getting off caffeine is such an important part of the FLO Protocol. Estrogen dominance gives rise to so many of the symptoms of hormone imbalance and you don’t want anything blocking your ability to detox estrogen.
Ready to Ditch Caffeine? Here’s How
Ready to say no to the hormone-damaging effects of caffeine, but afraid of withdrawal? Never fear! You can quit caffeine without symptoms—and without losing energy. If you follow these steps, you will feel great as you wean off caffeine and you’ll be much less likely to relapse.
- Start to wean off caffeine during the ovulation phase of your 28-day menstrual cycle, when you naturally have the most energy.
- Nourish your adrenals with adaptogens that help combat stress, like rhodiola, ashwagandha, and maca root powder.
- Use magnesium to replenish your mineral reserves, balance your mood, and combat headaches.
- Supplement with B vitamins. Make sure you’re getting B5 and B12 as part of your B complex.
- Rehydrate with coconut water that is rich in electrolytes.
- Do gentle exercise, like walks and yoga, but avoid heavy cardio in the week or two after stopping coffee.
- Eat a big, healthy breakfast every morning, which will give you fuel for the whole day.
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!
BALANCE by FLO Living Hormone Supplement Kit
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Balance by FLO Living Supplements are a complete package that work together to keep your hormone levels healthy. They include a 2 month(2 cycle) supply of the following formulations so you’re never caught short in any phase of your cycle.
When you take these 5 supplements daily, you’ll be giving your body excellent micronutrients to support healthier hormone levels. Which means that you’ll start to see your worst period symptoms get better… and even disappear after a while.
Click here to learn more about the BALANCE Bio-Hacking Supplement Kit.
I’m intrigued, what about Decaf? I know I cant have caffeine it makes me all nervous and jittery. However, I do enjoy a cup of decaf once in a while. Will that still impact hormones?
Yes, dacaf will negatively impact hormones as it still contains enough caffeine. If you are drinking it rarely, it shouldn’t be an issue!
Sarah B says
I gained 10lbs in three months after quitting caffeine. I am struggling because I do see the benefits; no acne, PMDD diminished greatly, less anxiety. The trade off, weight gain, tired, less intense workouts. Not sure about the trade off. I’m hoping after three months my Body will adjust. The weight gain is annoying!!!!!
Looks at ways to support your adrenal system – maybe some adaptogens, more sleep. Keep your workouts it sync with your cycle to optimize training and not create high cortisol which will undermine your fitness and health goals!
I was never a coffee drinker until last month, i drank coffee in the morning and tea at night for 1 month because i loved those 3 in 1 coffees i tried in Europe. After a month i started having severe abdominal pain that would last for hours. In the middle of my stomach, above my belly button and its so severe that it radiates to my back. I will be having an ultrasound to clear gallstone. Im on pantoprazole day 2 and i seem to not have any attacks anymore.
I will never touch any caffeine ever.
Sara Saint-Hogan says
I am not a coffee drinker, never have been. I drink it sometimes, because I like the taste. And by sometimes, I mean like once every couple of months. But based on your symptom list, I am likely caffeine intolerant. I get very, very tired shortly after drinking caffeine. In the very rare times I tried to use it as a stimulant (once upon a very long time ago), I would still feel tired, except that I was wired and jittery. I hated it. I never could understand people’s addiction to caffeine, especially since I feel so crappy after drinking it. Now, I understand.
Thanks for great info. Is a cup a day, of Organic Decaf (decaffeinated with Co2) allowed? Please let me know thank you
HI Liz, please see my replies to Anna and Kara!
Kara George says
Is drinking decaf a reasonable alternative? Or are the still negative effects from drinking decaffeinated coffee?
Hi Kara, Decaf coffee still contains caffeine and is still a problem. If you do make the switch to reduce your caffeine intake, make sure that it is organic and that it is decaffeinated via the water process.
decaf coffee has less caffeine per 8oz cup than the kukicha tea you say is no problem.
Angie Fredrickson says
Alisa, I am having a LOT of trouble saying goodbye to the ritual of my morning cappuccino. I don’t want to caffeine, but I do crave the frothy milk and the ritual of sitting with a warm cup. Is a decaf cappuccino okay? If not, what alternatives can you recommend? Thank you so much!
Hi Angie, please see my responses to Kara and Anna. Decaf is still an issue. Try roasted dandelion tea with some frothed coconut milk!
Hi Alisa, Thanks so much for your response and your suggestion. I am loving your book and I love your work!
Chelsea Yergensen says
Hello. Is dandelion tea safe for breastfeeding? Thanks!
Hi Angie, I’m not an expert and I follow Alisa for a few months now. I was also having problem to say goodbye to coffee ( I used to drink 2 to 3 cups a day and I don’t even recall when I started drinking it (maybe as a baby with my zippycup)) but after reading Alisa’s bloggs I took the determination of leaving coffee for good and it was not too bad. When I have hot beverage cravings I do organic hot chocolate instead or fennel tea, or even steamed coconut milk whith a little bit of cinamon is fine. I hope this helps!
What are your thoughts on matcha? It seems to get a lot of praise but is also caffeinated. Can it still mess with hormones?
Yes, caffeine is still caffeine. There are =benefits to tea and even coffee, but they are not always worth it considering the side effects of the caffeine.
How about other sources of caffeine like chocolate or green tea?
Is Matcha a reasonable alternative to coffee? Do the benefits of the matcha outweigh the caffeine, especially since its a different form than coffee? Thanks!!
I really wish you would mention chocolate here. I’ve seen you talk a lot about the harm of caffeine and getting people to quit coffee, tea, and sodas, but in other places you seem to speak glowingly of the benefits of dark chocolate. But dark chocolate is also high in caffeine. People who have a major chocolate addiction depending on how dark their chocolate may be daily getting the equivalent of 1- 1 and a half cups of coffee a day in caffeine. Plus Chocolate is a psychoactive food and overstimulating in other ways besides just caffeine.
I’ve had hormonal issues for a while and I quit coffee, but it took me a long time to understand the problem of chocolate because everybody pretends chocolate doesn’t have caffeine in it while they are going on about the glowing health benefits. WHY this ignoring? It’s SO important to quit CHOCOLATE, too. Especially the “healthy” kind (dark chocolate). Thoughts?
I would love to know more about this. Just recapping to clarify…chocolate, coffee and non-herbal tea (decaf and regular) should be eliminated from our diets??
Yes. If you still drink sodas, then some of these can have caffeine as well.
Chocolate does contain caffeine. I only recommend eating 1 or 2 squares in a 24 hour period, and not every day. You will learn more when you read about the cycle syncing aspect of my protocol. 1 square is about 8 to 12mg of caffeine. One cup of coffee is at least 95mg of caffeine. If you are very caffeine sensitive or find chocolate to be addictive, then this is not a food for you – there is no food that is good for everyone, every food has a potential down side. So, know your self and stick with what works for you! Thank you for your question!
Alicia Parker says
Basically all pleasure 🙁
Tea will never be able to replace coffee and fruits don’t replace chocolate.
I think all in moderation. I don’t believe in elimination diets.
I’d love to hear a reply to this comment (about chocolate). I am definitely caffeine intolerant and have no trouble staying off coffee but I go thru periods where I think I can handle raw cacao drinks or dark chocolate and quickly realize these cause just as much distress to my body as coffee does. And are just as “addicting”.
Would love to hear your thoughts Alisa.
Chocolate does contain caffeine. I only recommend eating 1 or 2 squares in a 24 hour period, and not every day. You will learn more when you read about the cycle syncing aspect of my protocol. One square is about 8 to 12mg of caffeine. One cup of coffee is at least 95mg of caffeine. If you are very caffeine sensitive or find chocolate to be addictive, then this is not a food for you – there is no food that is good for everyone, every food has a potential down side. So, know yourself and stick with what works for you! Thank you for your question!
Hello! In The Woman Code, I read that coffee is listed as a ovulatory phase food to consume. Why is that? Thank you!
Dear Alisa, I was recommend Lupin Coffee as an alternative. Would you recommend that too?
Olivia Neubauer says
I would be interested in that as well!
Hi Alisa! Thank you for this information.
I know that matcha still has caffeine, but is it better than coffee?
Alisa Vitti says
If you are experiencing caffeine related symptoms, then it is still enough caffeine to impact you negatively.
Soumya sahu says
I was never a coffee drinker. But one fine day i thought of giving it a try. Maybe i was caffeine intolerant. Earlier if i drank coffee i got jitters. But this time i didnt. So i continued to drink it for 1 month but things started changing. My sleep got ruined and i started to have racing thoughts. Anxiety and some digestive disorders. Its been almost 1.5 months that i didnt touch coffee but still suffering from a lot of symptoms. Should i consider this happening because of coffee..?
Alisa Vitti says
The caffeine could have created some adrenal stress. Make sure you are supporting sleep, and try some herbs like chamomile, ashwaganda, and passionflower to support healing.
I quit coffee and all other caffeins because i have many of the symptoms described. How long will it take for them to get better after quitting?
Greta Atwood says
How long will it take to notice improvements in symptoms after giving up caffeine?
How can we tell if we’re part of the 10%? I’m a bit ashamed to admit this but I’ve been consuming a major amount of caffeine for years now and it never seems to affect me the way it does to everyone around me. I know I should cut back and I’m trying, but I’m just curious about that 10%
FLO Coach says
Hi Oksana, Headaches are a symptom of caffeine addiction. The headaches will subside after a few days without caffeine.
XO, Christina – Flo Coach