Coffee & Your Health | What You Need To Know

Coffee & Your Health
What You Need To Know

Full transcription available at the bottom of this post

Don't you dare take away my coffee . . .

I know that's what you're thinking!  So let me be totally clear from the start - it is NOT my intention in this episode to take away your coffee.  Some people do perfectly fine drinking coffee, BUT some people DO NOT.  My intention here is share with you some ways in which coffee and caffeine COULD be interfering with your health, how to tell, and what to do about it.  

This episode came about because I saw a random post on Instagram saying that coffee on an empty stomach is bad for your health and bad for your thyroid.  I had never heard that before so I HAD to learn more.  And of course share it with YOU.  Down the rabbit hole I went . . . 

Turns out, the lady was right - coffee on an empty stomach CAN be really detrimental to your health and your weight loss attempts.  And not only that, but it can also interfere with your thyroid medication, your blood sugar, your acid reflux, your anxiety and stress, and not surprisingly your sleep.  Coffee and caffeine are not a good choice for everyone, and even if they have been fine for you in the past, they may not be now.  

I'm going to break down the science for you about all things coffee and health but here's the bottom line:  only YOU know if it's right for YOU.  I'm going to challenge you to get honest with yourself and whether or not coffee could be causing or contributing to some of the health conditions you're dealing with.  There's a pretty good chance that a lot of you are in denial about how coffee is affecting you because you'd rather give up a limb than have to quit coffee.  What kind of health coach would I be if I didn't challenge you?  But don't worry, I'll give you some strategies to have your coffee and keep your health too 😉 

Send me a DM on Instagram if you need some help working through it!


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Show Notes & Transcript: 

Full Transcript: 

I know what you're thinking, you read that title, and you're like, Oh crap, she's going to tell me to not drink coffee anymore. And I am not hearing that. But I appreciate that you were curious enough to push clay anyways, because I'm not going to take away your coffee. But I am going to share with you some information about coffee that I bet you really have not thought about yet, or you might not even know about, I might just change your perspective on that morning cup of joe. So if you're open to learning about your body, and about how coffee may or may not be affecting your body, stick with me, let's go

Welcome back to the no nonsense wellness podcast, the place for women who are trying to do all the things and stay healthy, sane and actually enjoy life in the process. Hey, I'm Tara, a trained therapist, a life coach, a nutrition coach and a fitness instructor. And I'm on a mission to help you take back control of your mind health and life. Each week, I'll be cutting through the nonsense and getting real with you. I'll bring you the insight and information you need to take control of your weight and health. Find food freedom. And finally break free from the thoughts that are sabotaging you and holding you back. You, my friend are powerful, and the world needs you to start showing up in a bigger way. It's time to get unstuck and start moving forward. So let's pop in those earbuds, tie up those shoes, let's walk and talk.

Before I dive in, I just want to make sure that you have gotten your free workbook on stress eating as the newest workbook in my sort of a lineup of free workbooks for you. The first one is five simple shifts you can make to jumpstart your health right now the second one was goal setting how we've all been taught to do it wrong, and how I will teach you my exact formula for goal setting. So you'll actually set the right goals and achieve them. And now there is a free workbook in there all about overcoming stress eating. So if you have not picked that up, you can find all three of them at, head over there. You can just get all three of them if you want to. But I want to make sure you get the stress eating one. Because I really think it's going to help a lot of you to create some more understanding for yourself about why the stress eating is happening for you and how you can stop that behavior. So I really, really want you to head over there, grab that free workbook. Give it a try. Tell your friends send them over there too. 

All right, I am doing this episode today because whenever I come across information that I didn't know, I of course have to tell you guys first. And I did not know some of these things about coffee. I'm scrolling Instagram one day and someone's reel pops up. I don't follow them. I don't even know who it was. But it was saying something about drinking coffee on an empty stomach being bad for you and specifically bad for your thyroid. And I had never heard that before. I did not know that there was a connection there. I also know that most of us drink coffee on an empty stomach, right? It's like the first thing you do. In the morning, you go to the kitchen and you get coffee. Definitely before you've had any food. Also, I know that I have a Hashimotos thyroiditis. That's an autoimmune thyroid condition. I also know a lot of you probably have it too. So I was extra interested in this topic. And of course, as I usually do, I went into full like down the rabbit hole research mode. And I was actually pretty surprised by some of the stuff that I found. So I really want to make sure today that you know what I now know. 

So let's first talk about coffee on an empty stomach. Honestly, I did not even I don't know why I've never heard this. I would love to know if you guys have heard it. I had never heard this before. But coffee on an empty stomach can really mess with your blood sugar regulation. Now this is a very big deal in June 2020. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that drinking black coffee on an empty stomach first thing in the morning significantly impaired people's blood sugar control by 50%. So what they did, it was a really small study. So again, take everything with a grain of salt but they took a group of adults and they put them through a series of blood glucose testing. They tested them first on a morning when they had a good night's sleep. And then they tested them again on a more During when they were purposely waking them up all through the night of mourning after a bad night of sleep, they took the same glucose testing. And then the third testing that they went through was a morning after a bad night of sleep, plus a cup of coffee on an empty stomach. 

What they found was that only in the coffee test was their blood sugar affected, so their blood sugar was not affected by a good night's sleep, their blood sugar was not affected by a bad night's sleep. But their ability to regulate their blood sugar was affected. After a bad night of sleep plus coffee on an empty stomach, that strong black coffee consumed before breakfast substantially increased the blood glucose response to their breakfast when they ate it by around 50%. Now, I hope you know that keeping your blood sugar levels within a very safe range. We talk about that a lot on this podcast about how to keep them in the nice gentle waves. And instead of that spike up and that spike down because keeping your blood sugar in that nice safe range is really important for reducing the risk of conditions like diabetes, heart disease, metabolic disorders, if you're trying to lose weight, regulating your blood sugar is going to be a very key element to doing that. This potential blood sugar regulation interference could have huge health implications for a lot of people. I mean, consider how many people are drinking coffee first thing in the morning. There was also another small study that I found was from 1998. And the data from that study suggests that caffeine intake induces a rise in blood glucose levels. That is insulin independent. So no matter what your insulin is doing to regulate that glucose, the coffee, the caffeine in the coffee really caused a rise in that blood glucose level. So the bottom line here is that caffeine and coffee on an empty stomach could be really messing with your ability to regulate your blood glucose levels. And that could be contributing to things that are very serious, like diabetes, heart disease, weight gain metabolic disorders, that was information that I was totally unaware of. But it really does make sense to me. 

Here's another thing that I want you to know about coffee, specifically caffeine in the morning. If you have a problem with acid reflux or heartburn, this is going to make it a whole lot worse. So when you swallow something, when you ingest something, your lower esophageal sphincter opens up to let it into the stomach. So it's the valve between your esophagus and your stomach, lets the stuff in your stomach and then it closes again. Coffee actually relaxes that valve so that it might not close correctly. That is then going to allow stomach acid to creep up into your esophagus and it's going to feel like heartburn or acid reflux. So if you already have a problem with that coffee is making it worse if you don't already have a problem with that coffee could be causing it. Coffee also is increasing the acidity in the stomach. So in September of 2020 A study was published in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology journal, participants in that study replaced two servings of coffee a day with two servings of water a day and drastically reduced their symptoms of acid reflux. So they made kind of this direct correlation between coffee and acid reflux, we take away the coffee, the acid reflux went away. It might also sound like coughing, pay attention, I had a friend point this out to me, and I had never noticed it before. But she said coffee makes her cough. And I was like that is the weirdest thing. And then I started paying attention. And I was like, Oh my gosh, it does it to my husband, it does it to my dad, like I started noticing all these people in my life that coffee was making them cough, it's because of this. It's because of that acid reflux. It's because of the relaxing of that valve. It's because of the extra acidity in your stomach. Really, really fascinating. So pay attention. If this is you, then you're going to want to make these correlations for yourself between what's happening in your body and what you're putting in your body aka the coffee and caffeine. 

Now let's talk about the thyroid piece of this because that was one of the things that I just really, I don't know why I had never heard this before but I hadn't. So coffee can really impair the absorption of your thyroid medication. Now whether you have Hashimotos like I do or low thyroid like trillions of women do, a lot of us are on thyroid medication. So coffee is lowering the intestinal absorption of both inorganic and organic compounds, AKA your medication and it also seems to physically interact with the thyroid medication absorption. So most of the studies on coffee and thyroid hormone absorption have been done with levothyroxine which just happens to be the one that I take, but just you could sort of spread that information across any of the thyroid medications. So whether you're taking a T three or a natural desiccated thyroid hormone, you're going to have the same absorption problem kind of across the board. So, in general, when you take your thyroid medication, you probably already know Oh, I'm not supposed to eat for like at least 30 minutes more, ideally an hour. But you also should not be drinking coffee within that window either, because you are messing with the absorption of that thyroid hormone. So just because you have a thyroid disorder doesn't necessarily mean that you have to never have coffee, or caffeine. But you definitely should avoid taking it within that window, that minimum 30 minute to 60 minute window, there are some other things that you need to consider also about caffeine and coffee, the caffeine and coffee, not surprising to you, I hope has an effect on your heart rate. 

It also has an effect on your metabolism, on your wakefulness on your adrenal health, on your urine concentration, it has far reaching effects on your body. So if you're someone who has an overactive thyroid, like Graves disease, which is the hyperthyroid autoimmune disorder, if you have anxiety, if you're dealing with stress, chronic stress, insomnia, headaches, frequent urination, heart palpitations, friend, coffee, and caffeine specifically, can make all of those things worse. Now, here's the deal. I know probably, I'm not telling you something you don't already know, what I hope I'm doing is hitting home for you that this actually can be serious. There are situations that you may be in health wise, where you want to avoid stimulants all together. If you're in adrenal fatigue, if you're having metabolism issues, if you are feeling to awake at night, and you can't sleep, if you're having anxiety, and chronic stress, if you're having insomnia, headaches, frequent urination, coffee is going to make all of those and I shouldn't just say coffee, caffeine in general can make all of those things worse. And you need to be really honest with yourself because I know almost all of you listening are dealing with one of those things, if not multiple. 

Now I want to talk specifically about Hashimotos here, because with Hashimotos, one of the interesting things that happen is you normally are having these low thyroid symptoms, but sometimes when your thyroid gets really attacked, it actually pumps out a ton of thyroid hormone into your body and it looks like and feels like hyperthyroid instead of hypo thyroid. So this happened to me a lot in the first couple years before I really started to get things kind of regulated in my body. But I would have these bouts of feel like a panic attack. Because what was actually happening is like a lot of thyroid was being released because my thyroid was being attacked by my own body, it was being broken down. And all those broken down bits were releasing thyroid hormone into my body. And it felt like anxiety, it felt like a panic attack. It felt like insomnia, it felt like heart palpitations, it felt like all those things that I just listed. So if you have Hashimotos, it's not uncommon to feel that way. What's going to make that experience a million times worse is that if you are drinking stimulants, aka caffeine during that time, so I want you to really pay attention to that. And really start to gain an understanding of your Hashimotos and how that's looking because it might not look always exactly how you think it's going to look. And coffee and caffeine and stimulants, especially stimulants on an empty stomach are going to make that a million times worse. 

Something else interesting is that there has been found to be a genetic component to your ability to metabolize caffeine. So some people metabolize caffeine really quickly, and it just sort of has a mild effect on them. My husband would probably be one of those people, he's a fast metabolizer everything that he eats gets metabolized pretty quickly. I am a slow metabolizer; everything I consume gets broken down much more slowly, including caffeine. So for me, caffeine is like a hit, I get super high jittery, and then I feel like that for a really long time. Whereas my husband, he does not seem to be as affected by it. So there is a genetic component here. But you as a human probably already have some concept about whether or not you're a faster metabolizer or a slower metabolizer. So keep that in mind. Your ability to metabolize that caffeine through your system is going to affect how you feel when you drink it. So who cares about all this?

You should care about all of these things because they may seem really small to you. But it's the small things that add up to your overall health. It's the little things all All day long every day that we're doing that really add up to this picture of health or not health for us. And so you need to pay attention to the small things. And you might think coffee is a small thing, but your body might be experiencing something very different. So here's the bottom line, coffee and caffeine, I'm sure you know, do not affect everyone the same way it doesn't. The sticking point here is that you need to be aware of how it is affecting you. I am not suggesting like you assume that I would just quit coffee altogether, you should just stop it and never have it again. In fact, I would never tell you to quit coffee, cold turkey, you're definitely going to want to wean yourself off of that, because you will have some really bad side effects. Mostly raging headaches if you try to quit coffee, cold turkey. So if you want to quit, definitely wean yourself off of it. What I am telling you though, is that you got to get really honest with yourself about how this is affecting you. Like I had to admit, for me that coffee is not a great choice. It needs to be a sometimes beverage for me. And under the right conditions. It is not an all the times beverage for me and I have tried to make it that I have tried to make it a cup of coffee every morning kind of thing. And for me, it cannot be it truly, truly cannot be it as bad for me. It has bad effects on my body. I don't like how I feel. So I only drink it sometimes under the right conditions. And I'll tell you what those conditions are. 

So what are you going to do about all this? Okay, so if you're someone who's thinking like, Oh, crap, dang it, she got me, I am experiencing some of those things. And I am not being totally honest about coffees effect on me right now. And I am a little concerned about a few of these things, but I haven't really addressed them. Okay, here's how you're going to address them. First of all, don't drink coffee first thing in the morning. And this is like across the board for every human alive, your cortisol levels peak at around 7am. So that is the cortisol levels in your body rise. That's what's waking you up in the morning, and they peak at around 7am. So actually, at about seven, you should be feeling pretty dang energetic. So unless you're sleep deprived, you should be feeling pretty good in the morning. So if you want that kind of hit of caffeine, don't do it first thing in the morning, wait till that cortisol wears off. So like 9 to 10 in the morning, a few hours after that cortisol starts dropping after its peak at 7am. That's when it's going to give you the most bang for your buck. Okay. 

Also drink your coffee with some food. So have it with your breakfast instead of before your breakfast. Or even if you're not doing breakfast very early, whatever your schedule is, maybe try a bulletproof type coffee, adding some fat to your coffee. That will kind of mitigate that caffeine spike and it will help mitigate those jitters. It'll help you metabolize it a little bit better. So that you don't have that kind of anxiety attack feeling that I get when I drink coffee. Just a caveat here. Move slowly into adding fat to your coffee. If you add too much fat too fast. It could cause some gastrointestinal distress, if you know what I mean. And also, I really want you to pay attention to that fat as part of your overall food intake for the day. Sometimes people add fat because they're like, Oh, I'm supposed to add a lot of good fat. Great. Yes, do eat good fat, but keep it proportional to what you've ate all day long, because too much is too much, right? I don't want you to add too much fat. It's very calorie dense. And if you add a lot, you might be going over in a day. Okay, so pay attention to that. 

The other thing you might try is just try a different type of caffeine. So some people are really sensitive to coffee, but they're not so sensitive to things like a green tea or a black tea or sometimes it's vice versa. Sometimes they're really sensitive to green tea but less sensitive to coffee. So just mix it up. Maybe a different form of caffeine would be better for you and better for your body. So try a green tea, a black tea, maybe a yerba monta a matcha. Maybe try a half Caf instead of a full calf coffee, maybe just try a half calf. That is what I switched to. So if I do have coffee on a random day, I always have a half calf, or I only do like a half a cup of coffee, and I fill the rest with hot water. I know if you're a coffee connoisseur Don't come at me but that's just how I roll. Mostly what I have for a caffeine source. I drink fizz sticks. I've been drinking those things for years. I absolutely adore them. It's only about a half a cups of coffee worth of caffeine but caffeine is from green tea and for whatever reason that amount of coffee from green tea does not give me the shakes does not give me anxiety does not give me the jitters. It's just a real nice even mood shift for me. And I usually have it Somewhere in the early afternoon, so if you're curious about that, just send me a DM on Instagram, just type this stick, and I'll send you the details and the ingredients, and you can see all the things about it. If you want to give those a try. 

The other thing you're gonna want to focus on is getting better sleep, easy to say, hard to do. If you're drinking coffee, because you're feeling tired in the morning, you are getting yourself caught in this loop because you feel tired in the morning. So you drink the coffee, but the coffee might be messing with your blood sugar and your hormones and your sleep too. Then you get worse sleep. And then you're tired in the morning because you got bad sleep, and then you have more coffee and the cycle starts again. So you need to focus on ways to get better sleep like exercise, healthy food, vitamins, water, a better sleep routine. If you did all those things you might not need. I am saying in air quotes need coffee in the morning to wake you up. In the Healthy Mind Healthy Body program, we have an entire module about how to get better sleep because it is so important for literally every other process that your body is trying to do. Including wake up and be energetic in the morning. I can tell you for sure for myself, I don't need caffeine in the morning. I don't need coffee in the morning, when I sleep well, when I'm taking care of myself throughout the day I wake up and I definitely feel that kind of cortisol hit at 7am. Like I'm feeling pretty good. I don't need caffeine, wake me up. Wouldn't that be amazing? If you could feel like that? Wouldn't that feel great? If you just got up and you're like, Yep, I'm up. What are we doing? Let's go. It feels really good. And you can have it too. And I can teach you how the Healthy Mind Healthy Body program. 

And the last thing I want you to consider here is whether or not coffee is just a comfort for you. If it's just a habit, I used to teach a 30 day healthy eating challenge. And one of the things we would try to do is get rid of coffee during that 30 days. And I got so much pushback from that. But mostly the pushback I got was not because they felt like they needed it. They didn't need the caffeine as much. What they needed was the moment like the coffee moment, the moment of like, it's morning, my kids aren't up yelling at me yet. It's quiet. And I'm sitting here with this warm beverage. It was like it was a moment and it was a habit. It was not because they felt like they needed the coffee per se. What they needed was the moment. So if that's you, if you're using coffee for your quiet time, I just want you to consider other ways that you could do that. If you took coffee out of the equation. What's another way that you can have that moment? Could you do a little reading? Could you do a little stretching? Could you drink some warm water and a lots of women do like a warm lemon water in the morning? It's not my jam. But if you like it, awesome, go for it. Like how else could you create that little coffee moment for you that didn't involve the coffee? Something for you to ponder if that's you. 

Okay, I hope this was really informative for you guys. I hope you learned some stuff because I certainly learned some stuff when I was looking all of this up. If you are curious about the Healthy Mind Healthy Body program, and especially talking about sleep, but even more importantly, talking about eating for blood sugar, understanding how your body works, understanding how your mind works, bringing all of these things together. That is what we do in the Healthy Mind Healthy Body program. So if you're curious about that, head to, that is going to give you all the details. It's going to tell you all the modules and all the things you're going to learn. But the most important thing that you would come away from that program with is that you would have created a lifestyle that leads you to health long term, no diets, no counting, no crazy restrictions. You are living your life in a healthy way and overcoming all of these food insecurities and control issues and stress eating and really having a thorough understanding of your mind and body. That's the point of the Healthy Mind Healthy Body program, bringing it all together for you. So if you're curious, head over to Take a look. And if you found value in the information in this show, plop it in your stories, tag me in it, send it to a friend, there's a little Share button always in the show notes of this, of this podcast. Just hit the little Share button in any of the ways that you want to share it. Send it to your friends or send me a DM and tell me what you thought.

All right until we talk again, my friends be well. 

Friends, thanks so much for being here. If you found value in today's episode, will you do me a favor and head over to iTunes? Find the no nonsense wellness podcast and subscribe and leave be a review. It would mean the world to me and help other people find the show. And I'd love to connect with you more. So find me on Instagram. I'm @tarafaulmann. Take a screenshot of this episode and share it in your stories and tag me. I'll see you over there.

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