The coffee conversation
To coffee, or not to coffee? That is the question...
If you, like myself and my friend Jess Blair, cannot remember a day when you didn’t start with your usual long black, then please sit back, relax, and grab a liver loving smoothie to enjoy while you read this…
A little bit about our old friend, the Big C. - also known as caffeine
Caffeine is a bitter xanthine alkaloid – best enjoyed in the form of an espresso martini or long black for daytime use. This alkaloid is a phytochemical, so basically it works similarly to an antioxidant in your body.
Caffeine is essentially, completely absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream promptly after ingestion. Peak caffeine concentrations are reached 1-1.5hours after consumption, and distributed around the entire body.
It is at this time, that it crosses the blood brain barrier, the placenta into the amniotic fluid and also into breast milk (Nawrot et al. 1999, p.3).
The primary site for detoxification of caffeine from the body is the liver via the CYP1A2 enzyme pathways. The elimination and half-life of caffeine ranges between 3 to 7 hours, and there are many additional factors that can impact this elimination timeframe, including: sex, age, gender, use of oral contraceptive pills, pregnancy and smoking. This is because they are metabolised via the same enzyme pathway.
Now, this is what happens in our body when we drink coffee, specifically in relation to hormones, mineral excretion, and glucose
Caffeine increases the release of norepinephrine, cortisol, dopamine and serotonin in the brain, and triggers an increase in circulating catecholamines in the blood (Nawrot et al. 1999, p.4).
A reduction in serotonin levels can occur when the caffeine supply is stopped, and this can be responsible for experiencing symptoms of anxiety, irritability and diminished motivation.
Norepinephrine & epinephrine are considered to be the stress hormones that increase vasodilation, heart rate and blood pressure. The flow on effects stimulate the production of cortisol, a glucocorticoid that is responsible for signalling the breakdown of glycogen to increase our blood sugar levels.
When blood sugar levels are increased, the pancreas has to constantly secrete insulin to bring the blood sugars back down. Chronic high levels of insulin and blood glucose can cause desensitisation in the cell receptors and insulin resistance.
The daily effects of caffeine
Caffeine and mineral absorption:
Decreases the absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and reduces vitamin C levels (due to increased cortisol production), B complex vitamins, inositol and vitamin A.
Caffeine & vitamin/mineral excretion:
Promotes the excretion of B vitamins and magnesium, which are essential nutrients required for methylation, liver detoxification and nervous system support (Wolde 2014, p.59; Gropper & Smith 2013, p. 452; Leiber 2005, p.15).
Symptoms of over consumption or intolerance of caffeine
Caffeine toxicity can present with a spectrum of clinical symptoms including:
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Sensory disturbances
- Elevated respiration
- Gastrointestinal disturbances (increased bowel motions)
So, in essence…
A coffee, 1 espresso shot has roughly 100mg caffeine. This will differ slightly depending on the brand and preparation method, but generally speaking, 400mg of caffeine (or 2 x medium espresso coffees) is considered an acceptable dose of caffeine per day, however; caffeine in excess of 4-7 cups of coffee (500-700mg) per day is considered to be the upper limit towards toxicity, and can present with any number of the side effects listed above (Nawrot et al. 1999, p.4).
So with all of this in mind, you can now ask yourself:
- Do I experience any of the above symptoms when having coffee?
- Is it possible that I am having too much coffee?
- Am I aware of my own limits with caffeine?
And if you (just like me), need a break from coffee from time to time, then here is a wonderful liver loving smoothly to get you by in the meantime...
- Bridget x
LIVER LOVING SMOOTHIE
Caffeine withdrawal can present with symptoms such as dull headaches, fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness, cravings, inability to concentrate and constipation among others, therefore additional support is needed throughout the detoxification period.
This smoothie, as you can see, is LOADED with essential B vitamins required for the healthy production of energy. Magnesium, B6 and zinc for neurotransmitters production, involved in healthy mood, sleep and mental clarity. Iron, Magnesium, zinc and B complex vitamins are fundamental for optimal functionality of Phase I & Phase II liver detoxification.
Coconut water contains high levels of electrolytes providing additional hydration and replenishment in the body. These ingredients contain high level of antioxidants, polyphenols & anti-inflammatory compounds making it an all round nourishing system required during this time of change in the body.
½ x cup - chopped kale (depending on your blender)
½ x organic lemon
1 x Lebanese cucumber
1 x knob ginger
1 x sprig of mint
½ x cup pineapple
1 ½ x cups coconut water
Add all ingredients to blender and blend on high for 30 seconds or until desired texture.
- Minerals: calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, manganese, copper & selenium.
- Vitamins: vitamin C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 folate, vitamin E & K.
- Other: sulphoraphanes, indoles
- inerals: calcium, copper, iron. Magnesium, phosphorus, potassium,
- Vitamins: vitamin C, B complex
- Other: citric acid
- inerals: Iron, calcium, chromium, magnesium, manganese
- Vitamins: vitamin C
- Other: rutin, hesperidin, luteolin, diosmin, alpha & beta carotenes.
- inerals: Magnesium, potassium, sodium, calcium, iron
- Vitmians: vitamin A, C, D, B6, B12
- inerals: calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, zinc, potassium
- Vitamins: B6, B3, B5, folate, Vitamins A, C, E, K.
- Other: contains the compounds Zingerone (polyphenol), gingerol & shogaol that is a fat soluble antioxidants & anti-inflammatory as it they work to inhibit inflammatory mediators
- Minerals: magnesium, molybdenum, potassium, silica
- Vitmians: vitamin c folate , vitamin K, B5, biotin, thiamine, vitamin A
- Other: flavonoids & lignins
- inerals: Manganese
- Vitmains: VItmian C, B1
- Other: bromelain (proteolitic enzyme) L
- Nawrot, P., Jordan, S., Eastwood, J., Rotstein, J., Hugenholtz, a, & Feeley, M. (1999). Effects of caffeine on human health. ASIC 18th International Conference on Coffee Science, 20(1), 1–30.
- Gropper, S & Smith, J 2013, Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism, 6th Edition, Wadsworth Publishing, USA, pp. 314-452.
- Lieber, C.S 2005, ‘Metabolism of alcohol’, Clinics in liver disease, vol. 9, no. 1, pp.1–35.
- Wolde, T. (2014). Effects of caffeine on health and nutrition : A Review, 30, 59–66.