Category: Nutrition

Coffee vs Autoimmune Disease: How to Reduce Your Caffeine Intake

Many of us start our day with a cup — or two — of coffee.

Caffeine, specifically coffee, has been shown to have many health benefits and it is one of the highest sources of antioxidants in the American diet, as Americans generally do not eat the recommended serving of fruits and vegetables.

But there are some down sides to your morning cup of coffee, especially if you have an autoimmune or inflammatory disease.

Caffeine consumption can increase levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. When cortisol levels are chronically high there can be negative effects in the body.

Drinking too much caffeine can disrupt sleep patterns. Sleep is very important for everyone, but even more so for people with autoimmune disease.

The acidity in coffee can also disrupt your gut. Coffee causes your stomach to create additional hydrochloric acid. This is essential for digestion, but if it’s chronically over-produced it can eventually reduce the body’s ability to create it. This can lead to low stomach acid, which means poor digestion, protein digestion and absorption, and mineral deficiency.


Limiting caffeine intake

Drinking coffee for some people is a necessity. It is how they get keep energy levels up to through the day. Going “cold turkey,” and giving up coffee all at once can cause more stress on the body. Stress can increase inflammation, so we want to avoid that.

Here are some methods for reducing your coffee intake.


Method #1 Gradually reducing your caffeine intake

It is up to you how many days you want to take to do this, but a good rule of thumb is to cut your coffee consumption in half every day. For example, if you drink four cups of coffee a day:

  • Day 0: 4 cups of coffee
  • Day 1: 2 cups of coffee
  • Day 2: 1 cups of coffee
  • Day 3: ½ cups of coffee
  • Day 4: ¼ cup of coffee
  • Day 5: No coffee!


Method #2 Replacing caffeinated coffee with decaf

Decaf coffee does contain some caffeine, but you can reduce your coffee intake by replacing the fully caffeinated coffee with decaf until you have weaned yourself completely.

If you drink four cups of coffee a day:

  • Day 0: 4 cups of regular coffee
  • Day 1: 4 cups of coffee: 50% decaf, 50% regular
  • Day 2: 4 cups of coffee: 75% decaf, 25% regular
  • Day 3: 4 cups of coffee: 100% decaf
  • Day 4: No coffee at all!


Method #3 Replacing coffee with green tea

Coffee drinking becomes habitual, so replacing it with hot herbal tea can help you satisfy that urge. You could replace every cup of coffee that you drink with one cup of green tea for a week, and then on the following week cut out the tea as well.