It’s the start of the week and we KNOW how much you’re probably hankering for a fix of your first dose of caffeine. This week we decided to hook you up with a little more information about your everyday addiction!
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a Central Nervous System Stimulant and the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug. The most noticeable effect of caffeine is that it blocks the bodies ability to recieve adenosisne ultimately stopping that post weekend fatigue you’re probably feeling (1).
The average cup of coffee has between 80 – 175mg of caffeine with most people downing upto 500mg of caffeine a day, well below the toxic level of 10 grams in adults.
So How Does Caffeine Affect My Reproductive Health?
Although there is no clear connection between moderate caffeine intake and fertility it’s worth noting that if you’re taking oral contraceptives they can extend the half-life of caffeine, increasing it’s effectiveness over time. Caffeine can also increase the effectiveness of certain medications, particularly those used to treat headache or migraine. Below we’ve listed how Caffeine impacts PCOS, endo, fibroids!
Caffeine & Endo
Although foods don’t CAUSE endometriosis, according to the Harvard School of Public Heath women who have 2 or more cups of caffeinated coffee or 4 cups of cola each day are twice as likely to develop endometriosis as other women.
Caffeine has been shown to aggravate and increase inflammation.
In a study conducted in 1996 the American Journal of Epidemiology found that caffeine may increase the production of oestrogen. Many women with endometriosis have higher levels of oestrogen and evidnce indicates that oestrogen and hormonal imbalance can encourage the growth of disease. Studies show that women who drink coffee have oestrgen levels up to 70% higher than women who do not (2).
Caffeine can increase anxiety levels and for many women with endo anxiety is a regular struggle and barrier which we struggle to commerce. Increased levels of anxiety can also encourage or trigger flare up and intensify experiences of pain and discomfort.
Caffeine and PCOS
The all important sex hormone binding globulin or SHBG is an important protein produced by the liver and is of particular interest for women with PCOS. SHBG picks up and binds to testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and estradiol (oestrogen) in the blood. (3) As soon as these hormones have been bound to SHBG, they become inactive and don’t have any affect on us.
Women with PCOS often have low levels of SHBG meaning that there is more active testosterone and estrogen in the body than we need or should have, resulting in hormone imbalances. So trying to raise levels of SHBG so that there is less testosterone and estrogen to run amok in the body is important!
Conveniently, one of the ways to raise levels of SHBG is by drinking caffeinated coffee (Yay!)
The adrenal glands play a crucial role in women with PCOS they adrenal produce hormones which eventually turn into testosterone. They also produce a small amount of testosterone themselves. 50% of women with PCOS have high adrenal androgens. So, it’s important that we’re aware of how we look after them (5).
As caffeine stimulates the adrenals and can lead to adrenal fatigue (when your adrenal glands become burnt out) caffeine might not be such a good idea for women with PCOS
Caffeine and Fibroids
The ovaries are responsible for the largest production of oestrogen in a woman’s body. Oestrogen can encourage the growth of fibroids so the last thing you probably want to do is include things in your diet which can make them worse. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, conducted from 2005 to 2007, Asian women who consumed 200 milligrams of coffee or more each day had higher oestrogen levels than those who didn’t. The reverse was true for Caucasian women, higher caffeine intake was associated with lower oestrogen levels. The source of caffeine also affected oestrogen levels. More than one cup each day of caffeinated drinks or green tea was associated with a higher oestrogen level in both Asian and Caucasian women. The study results indicate that caffeine consumption in certain cases is linked to increased estrogen, which makes fibroids worse.
Caffeine encourages the release of additional cortisol into the body meaning that you are more receptive to spikes in blood sugar levels.
Caffeine reduces the bodies natural ability to absorb vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and Vitamin B which are essential for hormonal, physical and mental function.
Swap This For That
So after all that early morning doom and gloom you probably want to know what your options are if you’re going to stop going steady with your long term relationship with caffeine!
For Those Who Like The Taste…
Whole Earth Organic No Caf Coffee Alternative is made with chicory, malt and figs.
It’s Vegan and you can get in at select supermarkets/health food stores or order it online
For Those Who Need The Kick
Green Tea. Although this still contains caffeine it has lower amounts than coffee and a mild leaf such as Mao Feng is easier on the system.
You can purchase it in Aldi for under a £1!
What’s not to love!
For Those Who Want To Try Something New
Yerba Maté is a great alternative for the caffeine lover who likes the high without the low. Made from the South American Evergreen Holly Tree.
You can purchase this from Tea Pigs in most major supermarkets