I was recording one of the final interviews with Dr. Shelly Sethi yesterday for the Natural Solutions for PCOS online conference and we were talking about how important it is to know how you metabolize caffeine.
Is it making your symptoms worse or better?
Caffeine can really mess with hormone balance and especially in higher doses as in the case with coffee.
But more importantly it can shorten your life by years if you are a slow caffeine metabolizer. I’ll help you figure out what type of caffeine metabolizer you are below.
A study published in JAMA looked at the effect of slow caffeine metabolism in more than 4,000 people in Costa Rica. The participants were slow caffeine metabolizers and the results showed that caffeine increased their risk of heart attack by 36% if they drank two to three cups of coffee daily. Their risk increased to 64% if they drank four or more cups daily.
This is alarming!
I love the “high” I get with caffeine. I become more chatty, more optimistic and I get a lot of stuff done. In fact, I’m on fire!
Then the next day, I’m a bit worn out and I can feel many ways it didn’t serve me. I’m a slow caffeine metabolizer.
So caffeine gives me a big energy boost at first, but because I’m running on overdrive I wear myself out much faster. And it does many other things to my body too that I need to be aware of.
200 milligrams is about 2 cups of regular coffee.
For every woman it pushes adrenal function so while you have more energy initially you could easily make more testosterone causing a worsening of your symptoms.
Coffee is acidic and acts as a diuretic so you’ll be purging a lot of valuable nutrients that will need replacing.
Here’s a short list of what higher levels of caffeine can do to your hormones:
- Speeds up bowel transit time by stimulating the release of the hormone gastrin. It also can increase bile and digestive enzyme secretion which may cause you to run to the bathroom and may contribute to acid reflux and damage to your intestinal lining.
- Increases blood sugar and so will increase insulin causing more inflammation
- Increases cravings – when you come down off your caffeine high you’ll be needing a quick fix to bring your levels back up.
- Disrupts sleep – if you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep this alone will increase inflammation significantly, increase cravings, create more insulin resistance, cause you to pack on more weight and worsen your symptoms… big time. A busy day equals a busy night.
- Purges valuable nutrients making you at much higher risk for worse PMS or menopause symptoms like cramping, moodiness and hot flashes, osteoporosis, arthritis, and worsening of autoimmune conditions.
- STRESSES you out more! Increases the stress hormone cortisol which raises insulin which suppresses progesterone production making your symptoms worse.
If you’re a fast caffeine metabolizer switching to green tea might be a much better choice because it has 1/10th the caffeine as a regular cup of coffee PLUS it’s alkaline instead of acid, so won’t purge valuable nutrients. Like coffee, it’s considered a SIRT food which means that it turns on your genes that mimic fasting and exercise.
If you’re a slow caffeine metabolizer, switch to decaf and consider giving regular green tea a try, either caffeinated or decaf. It contains a calming amino acid called L-theanine, providing a nice energy boost that is sustained and may help to manage blood sugar and insulin spikes better.
So how do you know what kind of caffeine metabolizer you are?
If you’ve ever done your genetics, check the genetic marker CYP1A2. If your gene is CYP1A2*1A then you are a FAST caffeine metabolizer so 1 cup a day may work OK for you. If your gene is CYP1A2*1F then you are a SLOW caffeine metabolizer like me.
If you have not done genetic testing here are some ways to figure it out:
- Caffeine affects your sleep
- You can feel your heart rate elevate
- Your blood pressure increases
- Your cravings get worse
- Your symptoms get worse
- Your fasting blood sugar (<85) and fasting insulin (<5.4) are not in optimal ranges
- You don’t feel calm and balanced
I hope this helps you to determine whether to coffee or not. No matter what kind of metabolizer you are, be sure to pay attention to your symptoms so that your health is getting better not worse.
Let me know what you’ve figured out for yourself.
Wondering if the symptoms you are suffering with could be PCOS?
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