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The most common question I get in consults is “is coffee OK to drink with adrenal fatigue??!”
This question has been asked soooo many times over the last few years but I’ve never really made a post to address it completely. Most of my input on coffee and caffeine in general is based more on my observations over the years with my clients and not on any one source in particular (although I may link to further reading if I find some good articles).
Coffee: Good or bad?!
Years ago I saw a meme that stated all of the “facts” about coffee that had been determined in studies before. It can cure depression, it can cause depression. It helps you live longer, it shortens your life. It can hurt your liver, it can heal your liver. SERIOUSLY. These are all “proven” facts in studies done on coffee. This is what started to make me wonder how we cannot trust all of these studies, especially when you take into account they are not looking at every single possible variable out there (the biggest one being that there are 7 billion people on Earth and we’re all different- one study cannot prove anything for the entire population for Earth!).
So to answer the question if it is good or bad: it depends on the person, the quality of coffee, and the amount that one is drinking.
Caffeinated coffee (and caffeine in general) CAN negatively impact the adrenals. Caffeine can be too overstimulating for someone with adrenals that are already stressed out. If you get jittery from coffee, if you feel the energy it gives you, and if you ever get a crash from it later then those are the biggest signs that caffeine doesn’t agree with you and it would be best to cut it out. Coffee can stimulate cortisol to be released (this is partly why coffee gives people energy!). If your adrenals are already under-functioning and not making enough cortisol, this can be incredibly stressful to them! No matter what, if your adrenals are already stressed than coffee can just add to that stress. (source)
So basically, if you don’t feel good while drinking caffeinated coffee, don’t drink it! If you know you feel more anxious, irritable, or jittery with it then take a break. Switch to decaf, or a coffee alternative if you just want something that has a similar taste. For many people, drinking coffee is more about the taste and not the caffeine boost- that is how I am. I just like it! But since caffeine isn’t agreeing with me currently, I’ve switched to decaf, or just drink my dandelion root tea.
The amount of coffee might be the biggest issue! Some people feel perfectly fine with one normal cup of coffee a day. It is usually when someone is basically surviving on it that it gets to be an issue. Drink 4+ cups a day just to make it through your work day? Yea, that is a problem! That really means you need to work on your adrenals so you can work on your body’s natural energy bank instead of just relying on external stimulants.
Quality matters! The ideal coffee would be mycotoxin free, organic, fair trade, and farmed with sustainable methods. I know, that sounds like a tall order and pretty specific! Luckily since the demand is high right now, there are a few companies that are starting to market their coffee using these exact terms. You can read a bit more about mycotoxins in coffee here, and here is another great explanation as well.
Also, the additions you are using matter too. Sticking with real cream or a healthy dairy free alternative would be best, as well as a real sweetener if needed. No artificial sweeteners please! Or if you are just making it “Bulletproof”, make sure you’re using a good quality ghee/butter or MCT oil.
If you are reacting to coffee or you are one of those that needs a pot of it a day to function, it’s time to look into underlying reasons why your adrenals aren’t happy. HTMA can be a great start to figure out what is going on with your adrenals, and it gives a lot of insight on what areas you need to work on most for YOU.
Coffee Brands to look for and Coffee Alternatives
- Kicking Horse: This brand of coffee is delicious! I’ve tried Kick Ass (dark roast) and Smart Ass (medium roast) before (yes, the names are hilarious!), but they have several other kinds as well. Their quality control includes making sure that their coffee is free of mycotoxins. You can check out their site here, but you can find their products on Amazon, and now in Target!
- Bulletproof: This is probably the most popular brand you’ll found at health food stores now. I’ve seen it at Whole Foods and Vitamin Shoppe, and of course you can get it on Amazon as well. They have a few main roasts to go for- I recently switched to this decaf after deciding to take a break on caffeine again, and they have their Original medium roast or The Mentalist dark roast.
- Dandelion Tea: Dandelion Root Tea is one of my favorite liver healers and bile boosters. You can get Traditional Medicinals Roasted Dandelion Root Tea in most grocery or health food stores these days. Many people actual make their dandelion root tea “Bulletproof” too if they want to still get the benefits of this drink without the coffee component. I have the full recipe for that here! I don’t recommend Dandy Blend though- for the best benefit, using pure dandelion root is better. To compare: one serving of Dandy Blend has 630mg of dandelion/chiory mix (and we don’t know the ratio), while 1 teabag of the dandelion root has 1500mg of pure dandelion root. Huge difference!
- Teecino: This is not a brand I’ve tried, but I do see it around a lot. These are herbal teas that are made with chicory root or dandelion. They have many flavors too! These would be more for a treat for the taste, and they don’t seem to be very potent for any real benefit from the herbs.
- Rasa: I have heard from a few of my clients about this herbal coffee alternative. It is made with bitter herbs like dandelion and burdock roots as well as some adaptogenic herbs. It was created by a mama that was tired but wanted something to give nourishing energy instead of false energy, like how coffee does. The listing on Amazon even has several recipes you can use to switch things up with it too!