by Jenna Verhoeven
As a fellow university student who lives by late-night study sessions, assignment deadlines, and enduring some very dry readings, I love coffee. As a practicing naturopath, who has an understanding and respect for my adrenal health, my emotions are definitely mixed.
Like many students, I have had a long standing, somewhat tumultuous relationship, with this ‘dirty-water’ bean. When I was a naturopathy student, I went through a phase of catching an earlier train to class, drinking my large soy mocha at the station stealthily, before heading to class. If I was spotted I would casually say that it was a soy dandelion-root tea or a decaffeinated chai-latte. Then in third year, I meet a wonderful fellow student who reminded me of the importance of soul food, balance, and enjoying life.
Fellow students, I pass her wisdom onto you.
There is a difference between removing something from your diet for health benefits, and simply denying yourself of things you find pleasure in for no real reason.
I drink coffee.
I like the taste. I enjoy the social aspect of it. I love the morning routine I have with my partner as he makes our morning coffees. I have had many wonderful conversations in my parent’s kitchen over a cuppa. I secretly find pleasure in using coffee as a reward after writing an article, an essay, or to mark the halfway point through a rough shift at work.
I haven’t always had a healthy respect for coffee.
I have abused it, and in response, it has abused me. I have lived on it, using it as a fuel to get me through my days prior to my naturopathic days. I have burnt my adrenals, been tired-and-wired, and experienced periods of insomnia and terrible PMS. None of which has been solely due to coffee, but coffee sure as hell did not help.
So why am I sharing this with you? I think all students should find their balanced and healthy relationship with coffee, or in some cases, avoidance. For some, caffeine can irritate the gut, increasing dysbiosis, and aggravate symptoms of conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). You think your upset tummy is from exam nerves? Might be the five cups you drank the day before in your cram session.
Furthermore, despite the original lift, excessive or prolonged consumption of caffeine can cause adrenal fatigue and suppression, and may reduce the function of the immune system. Uni-break flu sound familiar to you?
Coffee should be used with respect. A little bit of something occasionally is good for you, but more is not always better. Enjoy your coffee. Try to limit added sugar and syrups. Share with friends, use it as your cheeky reward, but don’t rely on it. If you experience headaches when you skip your regular 3pm cup, or find yourself reaching for a third cup by lunch time, perhaps you need to reassess how coffee is serving you.
Now, with that, I’m off to make myself a cuppa…