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Coffee... how much is too much?

Managing our blood sugar by decreasing the triggers that push it out of balance is one of the simplest ways to optimize health from improving energy throughout the day to deep sleep cycles at night. Coffee may be one of those triggers especially if you are constantly sick, inflamed, hormonally imbalanced, nutritionally-compromised, overworked, stressed out, fatigued, or depressed.

Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world and although it does have cognitive perks — including boosting alertness, energy and feelings of well-being —overuse can cause a range of unpleasant side effects, including troubled sleep, jitters, irritability and gastric distress.

We’re not asking you to go cold-turkey on your morning cup of joe - we simply want you to be aware that caffeine use has the potential to become a problem and impact your physical and/or mental health. Caffeine is similar to most other drugs that are reinforcing, which caffeine is. People desire the effect and repeat the behaviour over and over again. When reinforcers like that are easily accessible and inexpensive, their use may get out of control.

Acting in a similar manner to antidepressants, high doses of caffeine, ephedrine, ephedra, guarana, Ritalin, and any other central nervous system stimulant can flood the brain with neurotransmitters, creating neurotransmitter resistance or long term receptor damage. People who frequently use coffee, tea, soda or energy drinks actually change their brain’s chemistry and physical characteristics over time. Because it is both water and fat soluble, caffeine can easily cross your blood-brain barrier, and as you dump more and more caffeine into your body, your brain cells actually grow more receptors for a neurotransmitter called adenosine.

Adenosine causes feelings of tiredness, but since the molecular structure of caffeine closely resembles adenosine, caffeine can easily fit into your brain cells’ receptors for adenosine. With its receptors constantly plugged up by caffeine, adenosine can no longer bind to those receptors and cause the feeling of tiredness. Unfortunately, your body's response is to create more and more adenosine receptors – so you eventually need more and more caffeine to block the feeling of tiredness – and over time, you build up tolerance.

The good news is that you can reset your adenosine receptors by avoiding caffeine for 7-12 days. Try switching to decaf for one week every 1-2 months to optimize your hormone health.

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