The truth about caffeine
Updated: Feb 3
Let’s talk about this whole caffeine thing that’s on everyone’s lips.
The effects of caffeine are many, unfortunately, one of the main things is that it blocks adenosine and stimulates cortisol and adrenaline, ie your stress system.
What do stress hormones have to do with it?
The effect of caffeine intake comes at the expense of other hormones. Because the body is smart. It chooses survival over peace and quiet. This happens regardless of whether the danger is an actual lion chasing you, or if the danger is only physically and mentally experienced. Your adrenal glands do not care if you slept badly last night or if you felt you had to have an afternoon coffee in the break room at work with some colleagues cause you didn’t want to be a party pooper and say no.
In other words, coffee/energy drinks/black tea is like drinking liquid stress (even green or white tea and cocoa in large quantities). To end up in fight or flight mode on a daily basis is not a good starting point for a smooth menopause transition (as one could imagine).
When you are stressed, which is very common to be from time to time throughout the day, the adrenal glands "steal" progesterone in a process called "pregnenolone steal". In short, it means that your body prioritizes the hormonal production to make you produce stress hormones, rather than to support having a balanced day.
Caffeine and sleep
The body has a very important sleepiness chemical called adenosine. When caffeine comes into your system, it hits the mute button on the adenosine signal of sleepiness, meaning it wakes you up and keeps you awake. Now, the issue with caffeine is that it has about a half-lifetime of about 6 hours in most people and a quarter-lifetime of 12 hours. Meaning, if you have a cup of coffee (or any caffeinated beverages or foods) at noon, a quarter of that caffeine is still circulating in your brain at midnight. “But I can fall asleep without issues when I have an espresso after dinner”, well, sure maybe you can fall asleep, but your quality of sleep is damaged. Research shows that even if you fall asleep and stay asleep, the amount of deep sleep that you get is reduced by about 20 percent.
In other news Caffeine is something most people have in their lives as a bit of a daily security blanket. Which makes sense, cause you are really doing it all sister. It is also hard to know what is the chicken and what is the egg when it comes to menopause, and one can feel overwhelmed by all of the things people are telling them to stop doing. No gluten! No sugar! No carbs at all! No fat! No CAFFEINE?! Yikes, give us a break.
But if there is any advice that the Olivia team can give you, try to cut down on the caffeine and see how you feel.
Now be weary, it can be a bit overwhelming to quit a habit you have had for years and years.
A caffeine-addicted person who goes off caffeine will often initially experience headaches, irritability, etc., but also overwhelming tiredness. That fatigue is an abstinence reaction, it is not "the way you are". The adrenal glands, then accustomed to being constantly cheered on, derail a little. You can even get a little sick. It will pass. However, you will not lack anything (on the contrary, you keep your nutrition better) if you try to stop consuming caffeine for 1-2 months, and you can always start drinking it again if it did not help your problems.
And by a coincidence, the Olivia app happens to have a tailormade program just for that, cutting down on caffeine.
What do you have to lose by trying?