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The Effects of Caffeine can Disrupt Adrenal Recovery, Here’s Why

An image of two people about to experience the effects of caffeine with many cups of coffeeThe effects of stress on the body can be damaging. However, many realize that certain lifestyle habits and bad diet choices can also worsen its effects to the point that adrenal recovery becomes impossible. In fact, did you know that the effects of caffeine alone can worsen the condition of your adrenal gland until it hits exhaustion? By taking more caffeine and artificially stimulating your mind and body, adrenal fatigue becomes harder to combat and your quality of life would continue to become compromised.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a substance that functions as a stimulant. When you take a food or beverage that contains caffeine, your central nervous system becomes stimulated and you begin to feel more awake. Moreover, caffeine can also provide the body with a significant boost of energy.

One of the beverages that contains a significant amount of caffeine is coffee, and people typically like to drink coffee in the morning to help kickstart their day. If you are a healthy individual, there is nothing wrong with taking a caffeinated drink in the morning. However, if you suffer from adrenal fatigue, drinking that cup of coffee might be compromising your health more than you know.

Caffeine and Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is a condition that is triggered by stress, particularly chronic or prolonged stress. Even worse, adrenal fatigue can also advance further with continuous intake of caffeine.

Typically, the body is able to cope with stress with the help of its NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system. The NEM stress response system is made up of six circuits.

Among these is the cardionomic circuit, which is composed of the lungs, blood vessels, and heart. The cardionomic response is usually triggered by the hormones or catecholamines that are produced by the adrenal glands. These include the primary stress hormone cortisol as well as norepinephrine and adrenaline or epinephrine.

The moment your body’s cardionomic response to stress is triggered, your heart rate would immediately go up and your breathing rate would also become faster. At the same time, blood would begin pumping more vigorously throughout your system. All of these take place to make sure that your body is ready for a ‘fight or flight’ response to stress, which would be carried out by epinephrine and norepinephrine.

Typically, all functions involved in the NEM stress response system return to normal the moment the stressful episode has finished. However, when stress is unending, all the systems involved in the NEM stress response system are also forced to continue working. As this happens, the body ends up becoming flooded with catecholamines. Meanwhile, the adrenal glands are forced to produce more cortisol to meet the body’s demand. However, there would eventually come a time when the adrenal glands’ production would become insufficient. At this point, the body would experience significant hormonal imbalance and this, in turn, would trigger adrenal fatigue.

An image of a woman experiencing the negative effects of caffeineWhen you are already suffering from adrenal fatigue, consuming caffeine can make your condition significantly worse. This is because once consumed, caffeine would stimulate your brain’s neuronal activity. These neurons, in turn, would lead to an increased demand of cortisol, causing your adrenal glands to become further overworked. In fact, one study conducted by the Veteran Affairs Medical Center found that caffeine can increase one’s cortisol secretion in the body.

Meanwhile, there are also some debilitating effects of caffeine on your body’s cardionomic response to stress. In fact, caffeine alone can trigger both your heart rate and blood pressure to go up, causing you to become more panicked, anxious, and stressed out.

One study conducted by the SVS Medical College in Mahabubnagar, India, found that caffeine intake can readily increase one’s systolic blood pressure by 17 percent and mean arterial blood pressure by around 11 percent. Moreover, the same study also found that caffeine consumption leads to a significant increase in heart rate.

At the same time, caffeine has also been found to lead to a significant increase in catecholamines in the body. In fact, a study conducted by Vanderbilt University School of Medicine has found that caffeine led to a 75 percent increase of plasma norepinephrine in the body as well as a 207 percent increase of plasma epinephrine.

Even more alarming, a study conducted by the European Society of Cardiology found that an increase in heart rate due to mental stress can lead to an increased risk in unexpected death due to a heart attack. Because of this, it is important to significantly reduce caffeine in your system if you are already suffering from adrenal fatigue. Even better, you should consider trying to avoid consuming caffeine altogether.

Easy and Healthy Ways to Avoid the Effects of Caffeine

Now that you know about the harmful effects of caffeine on your body and how it can prevent adrenal recovery, it’s time to find out how to minimize or fight off caffeine in your system. This way, your adrenals would stand a better chance at recovering from adrenal fatigue. Moreover, your NEM stress response system can return to normal function too.

Before you try to remove the effects of caffeine on your body on your own though, it may be best to consult with your physician first. This is because there may be certain foods and/or supplements that may counteract the effects of other supplements or medication that you are already taking. Moreover, it is also possible for you to have an intolerance or allergy for certain foods.

That said, here are some easy ways to avoid the effects of caffeine from taking over your body:

Drink water

Caffeine typically has a diuretic effect. And when you don’t properly hydrate, you can become dehydrated following caffeine consumption. Hence, you need to make sure that you drink enough water daily to maintain good fluid balance. This way too, your body would not suffer further imbalance and become more stressed out in the process.

Sip some herbal tea

An image of a glass of tea, one alternative to avoid the effects of caffeineA soothing cup of herbal tea can help reduce harmful caffeine effects on your body. In fact, tea has been found to help reduce one’s risk for both stroke and heart attacks. This is because tea has the ability to calm you from within, bringing down your stress levels and heart rate effectively.

At the same time, tea is a healthier drink alternative for adrenal sufferers. In fact, herbal blend teas typically have no caffeine. Meanwhile, traditional teas have less than 50 percent of the caffeine that is found in coffee.

Be mindful of what you eat

You may not realize it, but certain foods may contain caffeine and worsen your adrenal fatigue without warning. These include chocolate, decaf coffee, weight loss pills, pain relievers, energy drinks, chocolate breakfast cereal, and even coffee ice cream.
To make sure you don’t consume foods with high caffeine content, study the label carefully.

At the same time, make healthier choices in your diet. Eat nutrient-rich eggs for breakfast and enjoy some wholesome whole grains like sprouted wheat. These contain complex carbs as well as iron and vitamin B which act like natural stimulants for the body.

Exercise regularly

Having a regular workout is a great way to get your body moving without the need for caffeine. After your exercise, you would feel wide awake, alert and ready to face your day. Meanwhile, if you happen to be suffering from joint pain, you can try sports such as bicycling or even swimming, which also serve as a low-impact cardiovascular exercise. Do not overexert yourself if you are weak. Overexercise can trigger adrenal crashes.

Keep all these tips in mind and remove the effects of caffeine from your body as safely as possible. For many, this process takes some time and should be until the body is ready in order to avoid rebound and withdrawal. Quitting coffee abruptly if you have been on it for some time can trigger adrenal crashes.

© Copyright 2015-2019 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam's Key Question

The effects of caffeine on adrenal fatigue sufferers are quite harmful. This is because caffeine is a stimulant which can readily trigger a demand for more cortisol. This, in turn, further puts a stress on the adrenal glands, which have already become exhausted and overworked due to adrenal fatigue.

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