Coffee has many good uses. There have been studies that have shown coffee plays a role in the prevention of cancer, diabetes, depression, cirrhosis of the liver and gallstones, and it is also full of antioxidants and polyphenols.

However, being addicted to it is not one of the good uses.

Coffee increases blood sugar, creates sugar and carbohydrate cravings, contributes to acid reflux, damages the gut lining, releases more cortisol, amplifies PMS, is a gluten-cross reactive food, impacts the conversion of T4 to T3 thyroid hormones, is highly inflammatory, and can contribute to the development of osteoporosis – besides being extremely high in caffeine.

According to The University of Padova, Department of Internal Medicine, caffeine increases blood sugar. Blood sugar spikes, not good for pre- or already diagnosed diabetics, also cause cortisol spikes, which in turn disregulates the immune system. Cortisol spikes are also highly inflammatory. As a result of this increase in blood sugar levels, when ‘spikes’ come down, there is an emergency feeling to bring them back up. Such hypoglycemic episodes should never be responded to with carbs and sugars although this is what many people do, but rather with proteins. Many morning coffee drinkers are found turning to sugary and carby snacks by 11 a.m., thus raising the sugar levels again and starting a viscous cycle, leading to blood sugar issues.

Coffee also stimulates the release of gastrin which is the main gastric hormone. This hormone speeds up the intestinal transit time. Likewise, it also can stimulate the release of bile, both being reasons why bathroom trips are often necessary soon after drinking coffee. For people with autoimmune conditions, compromised digestions (such as IBS or Leaky Gut), this can cause further digestive damage to the intestinal lining.

Regarding endocrine (hormonal) issues, it has been well established that coffee contributes to estrogen dominance, which is manifested by too much estrogen in relation to progesterone, or an imbalance in the estrogen metabolites. Some of these metabolites are protective, while others are dangerous. Coffee also impacts the absorption of levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone replacement, and because of this, it is very important for thyroid patients to take their hormone replacement at least an hour before drinking coffee. The levels of caffeine in coffee can also contribute to miscarriages, and inefficient umbilical cords in a developing fetus. In addition, a study from The University of Nevada School of Medicine has shown that caffeine can reduce a woman’s changes of becoming pregnant by 27%.

As functional and integrative doctor’s all agree, the majority of modern diseases are caused by inflammation on a cellular level. It has been found that caffeine is a significant contributor to oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Chronic body pains and aches, fatigue, skin problems, diabetes and autoimmune conditions are just some of the consequences of inflammation.
Coffee has also been shown to change our body pH to a lower, more acidic, level. A low pH can contribute to osteoporosis. Studies have been conducted that confirm that habitual coffee drinking among postmenopausal women is one of the leading causes of osteoporosis.

Lastly, almost everyone is aware that caffeine can seriously disrupt sleep, depending on the individual’s ability to metabolize caffeine. Sleep is extremely important, not only for rest, but for your body to do it’s work. Many functions are conducted by the body during sleep that are necessary for life.

There are numerous other ill-effects of caffeine that studies have shown, including:
•More than 4 cups of coffee have been linked to early death. A Mayo Clinic partnered study found that men who drank more than four 8 oz. cups of coffee had a 21% increase in all-cause mortality.
•Caffeine consumption may raise blood pressure. Especially in those who already suffer from hypertension, or those who don’t regularly consume caffeine.
•Increased risk of heart attack amongst young people. Dr. Lucio Mos found that young adults diagnosed with hypertension had a r times the rick of having a heart attack when regularly drinking 4 cups of coffee, while moderate consumption showed 3 times the risk.
•Caffeine can cause incontinence. A University of Alabama study showed that women who regularly consume coffee are 70% more likely to develop incontinence.
•Caffeine can cause indigestion. This can especially occur when the caffeinated beverage is consumed on an empty stomach. IT can also aggravate ulcers and other stomach related issues.
•Caffeine can cause headaches. Although occasionally caffeine can relieve a headache, it is often because the ‘lack’ of caffeine is causing the headache; likewise, the overuse of caffeine can cause headaches and lead to migraines.
•Caffeine may not be healthy for type 2 diabetics. A study conducted by the American Diabetes Association has shown impaired glucose metabolism in those with type 2 diabetes.
•Caffeine causes more forceful heart contractions, as well as arrhythmias.
•Caffeine is a diuretic, so those who have electrolyte imbalances, potassium issues, etc., should be careful with caffeine consumption.
There are many other bad effects of caffeine.

While decaf version of coffee and other drinks can be an option to help make the weaning off process easier, long-term decaf use is not recommended. A chemical process is used to remove the caffeine, which have consequences and damaging effects on the body on their own. And – the small amount of health benefits found in coffee (which are found in many other foods) are found in what is removed. Eight ounces of brewed coffee have 108 mg of caffeine, while Green Tea has 25 and herbal tea has 0. There are many flavor and medicinal options with herbal tea. Roasted chicory is often used as a substitute for coffee, and it is also caffeine free.

Weaning off caffeine can be hard. Not only is your body addicted to the substance, but there is the social and peer pressures. Having a cup of coffee or grabbing a soda are social events. Start by drinking half caffeine, half decaf versions of your favorite drink, then to the decaf. Then to none…. And substitute numerous other wonderful and healthy drinks. The first couple of days will be tough, but by the end of a week, you will notice a big difference already!

Author's Bio: 

Lisa C. Baker, CNC, RNHP, is a certified Nutritional Counselor, and also holds a certificate in Complementary and Integrative Health. She is a member of the American Nutritional Association, the International Association of Natural Health Practitioners, International Institute for Complementary Therapists, and is a Registered Natural Health Practitioner by the IANHP. She is currently enrolled in a Naturopathic program.