This 14-Day Caffeine-Free Challenge serves as an opportunity to break the caffeine addiction for good or as a temporary break to give your neurotransmitters a hard reboot. Consider it a reset to your caffeine tolerance.
The 14-Day Caffeine-Free Challenge // Reset Your Caffeine Tolerance
To simplify it, as your body becomes accustomed to consuming caffeine, you need to consume more and more of it to experience the same energy boost. Acting in a similar manner to anti-depressants, high doses of caffeine on a regular basis acts as central nervous system stimulant and can flood the brain with neurotransmitters, creating neurotransmitter resistance or long term receptor damage 18. Olekalns, N. (1996). Rational addiction to caffeine. Journal of Political Economy, 104(5), 1100.
Reasons to Take a Break From Caffeine and Reset Your Caffeine Tolerance:
- Caffeine no longer affects you the way that it once did
- You crave caffeine and NEED it to start your day or to get through the day
- Your daily caffeine consumption amounts are insane
- You are experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, anxiousness or adrenal fatigue
- Your sleep health has been suffering
- It’s leading to health problems
- Doctors orders
How-to Beat the Coffee Addiction
The good news: to kick the caffeine habit, you really only need to get through about 7-12 days without drinking any caffeine. During that time, your brain will naturally decrease the number of adenosine receptors on each cell, responding to the sudden lack of caffeine ingestion. If you can make it that long without a cup of joe or a spot of tea, the levels of adenosine receptors in your brain reset to their baseline levels, and your dependence will be broken. 2https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/this-is-how-your-brain-becomes-addicted-to-caffeine-26861037/
You can certainly go cold turkey on cutting out caffeine for this 14-day challenge, but if you are a hardcore caffeine consumer, you may want to consider preparing by cutting back gradually and replacing your traditional caffeinated coffee with either half decaf or more gentler forms of caffeine, found in quality teas like green or black tea. I personally really LOVE a Matcha White Hot Chocolate as a gentler alternative to caffeinated coffee, such a treat.
How-to Take a Break from Caffeine and Reset Your Caffeine Tolerance:
1. ↑ 8. Olekalns, N. (1996). Rational addiction to caffeine. Journal of Political Economy, 104(5), 1100. 2. ↑ https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/this-is-how-your-brain-becomes-addicted-to-caffeine-26861037/
Are you feeling that afternoon slump and reaching for coffee or other caffeine to power through? Is your sleep inconsistent and often interrupted? Are you finding yourself needing more and more coffee to get through? Follow along to learn How-to Take a Break from Coffee and Why You May Want to Consider It.
How-to Take a Break from Coffee (and Why You May Want to Consider It)
I am not one of those die-hard, ride or die coffee drinkers who’s been at it every morning for many, many years. There was a very long time, during the middle of my healing journey that I wasn’t able to handle any coffee at all. Even a single cup would cause extreme jitters and serious feelings of anxiousness.
After I healed my gut, went through an extensive liver detox and rectified my adrenal fatigue, among many other things, I did a little experimenting and low and behold, me and coffee were friends once again. We would connect occasionally when I was craving it. Generally it was Boosted, as I found this lessened any jitters straight up black coffee might cause. Overtime I created my own Healthier French Vanilla Coffee Creamer for those folks in my life that wouldn’t give up the sketchy store-bought stuff. I learned to make my own cold brew at home and I even fell in love with a Mint Mojito Iced Coffee number and found myself adding it to keto granola. But, some time last year my occasional cup of coffee, only when it sounded good, turned into an every single morning thing. It became part of my morning routine and the ritual of it became as much a part of the craving (or more) as the caffeine itself.
Then my one 8 ounce cup of coffee in the morning turned into 12 ounces. Suddenly my life included the occasional afternoon coffee. Sometimes even an evening cup. This evolved into me craving coffee when I felt that afternoon slump hit and I would actually at times find myself smelling it, even when it wasn’t around because my brain was lusting after it so deeply to give me that boost. I was finding myself traveling and making plans for how I would get that perfect cup of coffee on the road.
It was fine. Because in my mind, coffee has so many wonderful health benefits and if a light caffeine reliance was the worst thing I had going for me, I would say I am doing pretty good in life. After all, at this point I have chosen to basically all processed foods and for the most part all grains, dairy, legumes, sugar, etc etc all to manage my health and autoimmune symptoms. Just let me have my dang coffee.
The Benefits of Coffee
Coffee has many brain-protective compounds and an abundance of antioxidants, polyphenols and bioactive compounds. Coffee contains vitamin C, magnesium, polyphenols, catechins, flavonoids, and chlorogenic acids. and it’s generally regarded quite favorably by recent research. 1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26784461
Is snacking healthy? Should you snack? If you find you are chronically grazing on many small meals throughout your day because of excessive hunger, you can likely blame imbalanced blood sugar and not eating for satiety. In this post we talk about snacking along with some healthy snack ideas for when a gap snack might be necessary.
Is Snacking Healthy? Should You Snack?
Let’s talk about snacks baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things, that may be. Let’s talk about snacks! hahah. Sorry. I digress. Seriously though. Determining what to eat is challenging enough of a question, but add to that, the question of when and how often to eat – this adds a whole new additional layer of unanswered inquiries and confusion for many.
Smaller More Frequent Meals Helps Boost Metabolism, Right?
While convention nutritional advice long touted 5-6 small meals throughout the day as a means to increase your metabolism and encourage fat loss, this antiquated approach doesn’t look at the full scope of our day and what is actually happening in the body with every snack or small meal. For so long, many “experts” believed the idea that many small meals is theoretically “stoking the metabolic fire,” while less frequent meals “slow your metabolism.” The thought process was that eating many small meals keeps your metabolism plugging away at a high rate for the entire day, helping you burn more fat. Conversely, it was thought that going too long between meals slows down your metabolism, so that when you do eat, your body is sluggish to respond to the caloric load and you end up storing it as fat.
Sounds pretty smart, right? But, guess what, it’s just not true. There isn’t any science to support it or research that proves smaller, more frequent meals has any metabolic advantage.
What we do know, as research has shown, the more you eat the more insulin your body releases, and this constant output of insulin interrupts the intended flow of blood sugar.
With every meal there is a rise in our blood sugar (which is just the amount of free glucose in our bloodstream) then a release of insulin follows. With lots of small meals through the day that means a blood sugar rollercoaster of highs and lows that can cause additional cravings, fat storage, mood changes, irritability and more.
Besides that, with every meal or snack that we eat, our body has to begin the process of digestion, this takes energy and time, as your body is breaking down the food into usable molecules that are absorbed by the body and utilized appropriately. This process takes energy away from other repairs and tasks your body should be doing. Anything we eat that the body cannot absorb or use in some capacity is then stored as fat. Whenever we snack this stops the process of our body using stored body fat in between meals.
The goal is to instead build a day with more steady blood sugar by getting enough fat and protein at every meal to reach satiety and not solely relying on refined starchy carbs and sugar for quick hits.
This is the third Happy Hormones post in our Hormone-Focused Series from Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Brynn D’Avello. I suggest reading the first post The First Step to Happy Hormones and then the second post where we tackle how Blood Sugar Imbalance Affects Your Hormones before you dive into this post covering the Importance of Digestion to Hormone Balance.
As we discussed in the previous post in this series, as important and crucial as blood sugar regulation is to hormone balance in this latest installment we will discuss how digestion is a very, very close second. Since I know Beth has done a killer job breaking down the digestive process in her Digestion 101 series I am only going to touch on the highlights…. with a very special emphasis on the liver.
Digestion is a North-to-South Process, and to help strengthen it effectively we must naturally start at the top and work our way down. Most of us would assume that the first step to digestion is in the mouth, but you actually have to go a little bit higher than that. The brain. To activate salivary enzymes your brain must be engaged. That’s why your mouth waters when you smell something delicious. It’s getting the signal that food is coming its way, and saliva, in addition to chewing thoroughly, helps start the breakdown of food into useable nutrients. (You can read more here about the roles that our brain and mouth play in digestion) Once our food gets to the stomach, gastric juices go to work on proteins and then it gets passed on to the small intestine. Here is where the gallbladder kicks in. Bile is secreted to emulsify the fats in our food to assimilate the necessary elements, to be used effectively. Without good quality bile, fats are not digested properly. Fats are absolutely critical to the entire endocrine system. Our body cannot produce hormones without fats.
This is the second post in a Hormone-Focused Series from Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Brynn D’Avello. I suggest reading the first post The First Step to Happy Hormones and then diving right into this one where we tackle Blood Sugar and Your Hormones!
How Blood Sugar Imbalance Affects Your Hormones
The number one principle of the Nutritional Therapy paradigm is, “Always address the foundations first.” So what exactly are The Foundations? The first and most important is a properly prepared, nutrient-dense diet. The other four foundations are digestion, blood sugar balance, fatty acid balance, mineral balance and hydration. When one or more foundations are weakened it leads to what we call consequences, which are usually the symptoms that clients are coming to us, or doctors, to help resolve. Issues like hormone imbalances, weak immune systems, and sluggish detoxification pathways. As Nutritional Therapy Practitioners we do not treat disease. It is our job to strengthen the weaknesses and remove the stressors. This will allow the body to correct the imbalance and bring optimal wellness back.
With hormone balance each of the foundations plays a role, but any attempt to normalize hormonal imbalance is futile until blood sugar issues are addressed. No ifs, ands or buts. In the last post about Happy Hormones we talked about how stress affects the adrenals and hormone production, and how these two glands handle our stress response, but that’s not their only job. In order to maintain proper blood sugar balance it takes the adrenals, the liver, and the pancreas working together in harmony to provide steady energy for the body. Chronic stress leads to elevated cortisol, which exhausts the adrenals. When the cortisol levels are elevated insulin receptors on cells do not respond adequately to insulin. This puts a strain on the pancreas to secrete more insulin, which leads to more stress on the adrenals, higher insulin levels and if this vicious cycle continues… to insulin resistance and possibly even diabetes. A daily roller coaster with dangerous consequences.
Our body’s innate intelligence constantly monitors the amount of glucose in our bloodstream to maintain balance. Too much or too little triggers the release of hormones to return levels to normal. A constant slow stream of glucose from unrefined, whole foods sources, entering into the blood stream in a controlled manner – this is the ultimate goal. Not the large dumps of sugar we see in our food culture. We are NOT designed to run on just carbohydrates. The body is designed to use a balance of unrefined carbohydrates (think vegetables, fruits and some whole, soaked/sprouted grains if you can tolerate them), along with good fats and quality proteins as the primary sources of fuel. Carbohydrates act like kindling in a fire; they are quick burning and work for a short time to get us bursts of energy, as needed. Inevitably we will need more, to keep the fire going for the long haul. When we exclusively are burning carbs/glucose we create a roller coaster with our blood sugar, with the highest or highs and the lowest of lows aka crashes or bonks! Healthy fats and proteins are the logs on the fire, providing a more sustained source of longer lasting, balanced energy, along with providing the body the necessary precursors to create healthy hormones.
Why Are We Talking About Fat?
The reason I write this post, is that even though, for so many us, we have woke to this knowledge and have worked hard to reframe our approach to nutrition and no longer fearing the fat, we still have so much work to do. After many decades of low-fat propaganda, the “fat makes you fat” rhetoric is still so deeply ingrained in the collective psyche. Many people STILL greatly fear fat, even though study after study shows that fat is not only harmless 1http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract but that it is in fact, quite necessary to many important functions in the body. I myself see this fear weekly in my nutrition clients, all over the internet and in my social feeds, at the grocery store, at restaurants, at the gym, etc and of course, all of the many side effects of low fat eating – we HAVE to change this dialogue!!
It is beyond challenging to decide where to even start on such a huge, huge topic. Chatting about dietary fat is a big undertaking and we are going to merely just scratch the surface with this initial post, decoding the myths and where the fat fearmongering began, along with the crucial reasons we need fat in our diet. So, let’s get to the basics.
First and foremost you need to know that fat is a necessity in our bodies. This vital macronutrient provides building blocks for the brain, hormone and cellular membranes throughout the body, it is essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K and it is deeply hydrating!
By adequately increasing my healthy fat intake, more than any other change I have made in my lifestyle and diet, I have personally seen profound affects on my health, from my digestion to my skin including chronic hormonal and cystic acne, from my moods to my ability to concentrate, hormonal imbalances to libido (YUP!). Fat is a powerful anti-aging food, both internally and externally. Consumed as part of a healthful diet, fatty acids (the building blocks of fat) help stabilize blood sugar – allowing your body to release fat, protect it’s lean muscle, and surge with energy. When our focus is on creating meals that are rich not only in healthy fats, but also quality well-sourced proteins and fibrous green leafy veggies, we can thank especially the healthy fats for keeping us satiated. Staying satisfied for longer means so you won’t find yourself searching for the junky, processed snacks in between these healthy, whole food meals.
1. ↑ http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract