This year, I broke up with coffee. Well, caffeine in general actually. And as a traditional Brit, this can seem a little strange. So, let me tell you why.
I grew up in a house full of tea drinkers. From the age of 18, I was probably drinking around 4-6 cups of tea a day! Which sounds a lot, but it’s pretty normal in the UK.
It’s such a British thing to do – for all occasions. If there’s a celebration, there’s an ‘Oh, let’s have a cup of tea.’ If you’re upset, out comes ‘Come on, let’s have a cup of tea.’ And if you’re worried, lonely, unhappy, excited, or need a break, you’ll always pop the kettle on. For every occasion, a good cup of tea is perfect – or even just over a catch up with friends and family. So, I have been enjoying black tea for many, many years – and lots of it.
My mother, on the other hand, was a tea and coffee drinker. She loved a macchiato coffee – the strong, thick black type. But in her later life, she found that this impacted her high blood pressure, so had to give it up! I, however, didn’t fully embrace coffee until my late 30’s. And WOW do I love a good cup of coffee. But over the years, I have encountered many clients in my clinic with varying underlying health concerns; some presenting as skin conditions and others are more overall health-related. And because of that, I have personally seen a marked improvement in those who ditched the caffeine.
On a personal level, I have suffered from several health-related issues. Some stress-related and others connected to inflammatory bowel disease. These presented themselves in many different forms – exhaustion, hormone imbalances, anxiety, gastritis, physical aches and pains, bowel problems, nausea, mental fog, puffiness and puffy eyes, along with generally looking under par. You name it, I felt it.
And so, I made many changes including diet and adding in different supplements. Some have been of no benefit, whereas others have been really quite life-changing. The biggest life-changer was making the tough decision to firstly give up coffee, then also my beloved black tea.
So, what exactly are the health benefits of giving up coffee and tea? For me, I noticed that I had a renewed sense of energy – it felt like my brain had switched back on, my body just felt less inflamed, I also experienced fewer IBD flare-ups and when it does flare up (as it will because it’s autoimmune) it’s much less aggressive. Success!
But that’s not all. They are just some of the benefits that I noticed personally. Scientifically speaking, there are a whole host of benefits that you could experience, including;
Caffeine can really affect your body in negative ways. Your morning cuppa might make you feel more alert, but it’s stimulating effects are only temporary. Too much caffeine can go on to cause insomnia. It can stay in your system for between 1-9 hours, meaning the brain is still stimulated and you’ll find it much harder to get restorative sleep.
But that’s not all. Because you’re so much more alert, you may experience more anxiety than normal. Caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine in the brain – the chemical that makes you feel more sleepy – and releases more adrenaline. Higher doses of caffeine can also mean you’re breathing more rapidly and get easily stressed, which is never a good thing. So, you’ll be glad to know that giving up coffee also has its skin benefits too.
One of the first things I noticed after giving up caffeine, was that my puffy eyes had almost totally gone. A huge plus in my eyes (quite literally). But not only that, because less caffeine can improve your circulation, there’s also a chance of getting more of a glow too. Which, again, I have noticed. But that’s not all. Some of the most notable benefits include;
However, this does depend on your lifestyle and skin type too. If you’re cutting out toxins and drinking more water, it’s generally more likely that you’ll benefit from clearer skin, the benefits to the lymphatic system are huge. If you’re reducing your caffeine and enjoying healthier levels of sleep, your body as a whole will have more time to restore and regenerate. And less caffeine and improved circulation can give you that glow.
I already mentioned the caffeine and stress connection, and with the stress of city living, it can be even more important to do what you can to help keep our stress levels and adrenal glands in balance. Stress causes so many physical and emotional problems, including acne breakouts, so it could be that the added caffeinated drinks (especially the sugary, milky kind) might be accelerating your adult acne, as well as the ageing process. But not only that, coffee can disrupt your gut flora and cause internal inflammation. And when the gut is inflamed, it’s not going to be absorbing nutrients efficiently which then has a knock-on effect on overall levels of health and it can show in the quality of your skin!
If you’re used to starting your morning with something hot or sipping on something throughout the day, it’s handy to have a go-to caffeine-free alternative. My personal favourite is Redbush tea, also known as Rooibos tea. But here’s a full list of coffee-alternatives for you to try;
As fantastic as the benefits are, going caffeine-free wasn’t easy at the start. The detoxing process can be a little tough and emotionally, it took me a long time to build up the confidence to actually do it. I had headaches and mood changes. With coffee, it wasn’t too bad. However, I was still getting my caffeine hit from black tea – which I gave up 4 months after. Headaches can last from one day to a whole week! Mine kicked in on day 2 and I was definitely more emotional too.
But it’s not just the withdrawal to be mindful of. I miss the social aspect of going for a coffee. A trip to the cafe would be a break in the day or a stop off on a dog walk. And going to a cafe for a herbal tea is not quite the same – especially as I know I can purchase a full box of herbal bags for the cost of that one pot in the cafe! And not many places offer Redbush tea, so I now travel with my own tea bags.
The process can sound intimidating. With a new coffee shop popping up on every street corner (don’t get me started on all the sugary cakes and pastries that now seem to be considered normal to eat with coffee every day), it’s not easy. But teamed with my go-to skincare regime, dietary and lifestyle changes, have made such an improvement to both my skin and health in general. If you’re looking to boost your skin health, you can find my full treatment menu here and book a facial here.
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