Do you feel like your caffeine consumption is healthy?
I ask because a few weeks ago, a post of mine on Instagram got a lot of attention, and it's because I brought up coffee.
People seem to have strong feelings about their coffee, and I'm not judging! I know coffee has a lot to offer.
This post, however, brought to light the fact that using coffee as a stimulant to go poop every morning can actually be negatively affecting your gut and digestion.
We want our body and the fiber we consume to be able to digest easily and efficiently throughout the day. If we are using a stimulant (coffee, energy drink, etc.) in the morning to poop, and that is the only poop we take throughout the day, our digestive muscles aren't being put to work, and they weaken. The rest of the day our body stops digesting food because our muscles aren't strong enough, leading to bloating, constipation, and an imbalanced gut.
My suggestion is NOT to stop having coffee. Frankly, pooping once a day is better than pooping a few times a week, so let's keep things moving.
What I am suggesting, and what I work on with my one on one clients, is to work those muscles throughout the rest of your day so you are pooping twice a day, and then, possibly, slowing down on the caffeine.
If you need help making digestion healthier and easier throughout the day, download my 5 Tips to Top Notch Digestion PDF. Start implementing those tips so that your digestion is happening more regularly.
Once that is happening, and if you feel like adjusting the amount of caffeine you are taking in so that you have more stable energy levels (ie. you are tired of the afternoon crash), follow these five steps to decrease your caffeine intake in a gradual way...
How to Gradually Decrease Your Caffeine Intake
1) Start Your Day w/ Warm Lemon Water First
I don't know how many times my clients have told me that their morning coffee is the highlight of their day. I'm not suggesting that you give that up if that's you, but can you adjust it?
Start your day off with a cup of warm water and the juice of half a lemon. This will help support digestion naturally (sans stimulant), hydrates you first thing in the AM, which your body needs after a night of dehydration (coffee further dehydrates you), and helps with a mini detox. Once you finish your warm lemon water, feel free to move on to your coffee.
2) Switch to Half Caff
Once lemon water is going, can you switch each cup of coffee to half caff? This means take your normal amount of caffeine and cut it in half, filling the other half with decaffeinated coffee. Give it a try for a week or two and see how it makes you feel.
3) Drink Black or Green Tea
If you have cut down the amount of caffeine you you are drinking, you can replace it with a source that is not quite as caffeinated, but still gives you a little boost. Swap in a cup of caffeinated black or green tea. You will be getting in new nutrients and antioxidants but ingesting a bit less caffeine.
The amount of caffeine varies depending on where you get your drink, but a cup of coffee usually has over 100 mg of caffeine, black tea is more like 50-70 mg, and green tea is usually under 50 mg.
Make this change for a week or two and see how you feel.
4) Can You Swap to Decaf Coffee?
Once you have gotten used to less caffeine from coffee, can you make the change to decaffeinated coffee all together? This is great for people that truly love the taste and ritual of coffee (that was me when I made this swap a few years ago!). You could bump up your tea consumption a bit to mitigate the energy dip, but see how it feels for a week or two. Keep in mind that decaf coffee does still have a little bit of caffeine.
5) Cut Out Coffee Altogether
If your goal is to cut out coffee altogether, this is the last step! Make the swap completely to tea and stop with your coffee consumption.
This is a gradual process to minimize your coffee and caffeine consumption. You will probably experience some headaches and lethargy throughout the process as your body is getting used to less caffeine. This is normal and, if you stick with it, will go away.
And as I mentioned above, if you are a person that uses your morning coffee to help keep your poops regular, it's important that you incorporate the morning lemon water and follow my 5 Tips to Top Notch Digestion handout first. The priority is to keep our bowels moving. I would prefer them to happen because your digestive muscles are strong and you are getting in a lot of fiber, but if you aren't there yet and your bowels slow down as you get off the caffeine, we need to keep working on your fiber intake.
Feel free to send me a message if you would like one on one support with this transition!
Please check with your doctor before you make any changes to your diet and lifestyle, particularly if you have a chronic disease. I am not a doctor, and any recommendations made here are from my own experiences and those of my clients.