For many of us coffee is a vital ingredient in our lives. That first cup in the morning sets us up for the day and when we don’t have it, we miss its ability to perk us up and deliver a boost of energy.
But it’s not without its drawbacks. Too much coffee can have a detrimental impact on our health. Flooding our bodies with too much caffeine can lead to trouble sleeping, increased heart rate, anxiety or a sensitive gut.
But. What if you’re a moderate coffee consumer? Or you prefer to drink decaff? If you’re still noticing unwanted symptoms, it might be time to put the mug down.
What is coffee?
One of the most popular beverages in the world, coffee is prepared using roasted coffee beans, the seeds of berries from the Coffea species. From the coffee fruit, the green unroasted seeds are harvested. They are then roasted, transforming them into a consumable product. This is ground into powder, and steeped in hot water, before being filtered to produce the coffee we all know and love.
Coffee is generally bitter in flavour. It’s caffeine content provides a natural stimulant which can improve focus and concentration, and make you feel more awake.
Is it the caffeine or the bean?
Too much caffeine can cause a range of problems, such as racing heart rate, feelings of anxiety or a sensitive stomach. Often, we ignore these issues, explaining them away as a common complaint from consuming too much caffeine.
But it can be the case that it’s not actually the caffeine causing the trouble, but more the coffee beans themselves. This might seem like an unnecessary distinction but if you experience a coffee bean intolerance, this means that even switching to caffeine-free versions of your favourite coffee drinks won’t prevent you from experiencing those unwanted side effects.
What are the signs of a food intolerance?
Food intolerances, which can occur when your body’s immune system mistakes a food protein as a threat, releasing antibodies to fight it, can cause inflammation in the body, leading to a host of symptoms.
Headaches, brain fog, IBS, bloating, low mood and joint pain are all reactions that can result from a food intolerance, as well as skin complaints like eczema or acne.
If you have a food intolerance, you may find that you often experience a few of these complaints and struggle to pinpoint the exact cause.
What else is in that cup?
When it comes to figuring out whether you’re intolerant to coffee, Its worth remembering that coffee drinks are often prepared with other ingredients, predominantly cows’ milk. If you suffer with a food intolerance reaction to dairy, this could also be causing you problems.
It’s quite common for people with food intolerance to experience reactions to between 2 and 6 ingredients. If both dairy and coffee triggered symptoms for you, there could be a lot of guesswork involved to get to the bottom of it.
What are some good alternatives for coffee?
Switching out your morning coffee may be necessary in order to optimise your diet and improve those unwanted symptoms. But it’s such a part of our daily routines that it can be hard to go cold turkey.
Luckily there are various alternatives worth trying to give you that hot drink fix. If the caffeine itself isn’t a problem for you, swapping to tea could give you that same lift. Green teas and herbal teas also provide a satisfying and comforting warmth.
If you’re trying to stick closer to the coffee taste, you might like to try chicory coffee, a beverage made using the roots of the chicory plant, which are roasted, ground and brewed into a coffee-like drink. Chicory coffee tastes similar to coffee but has a slightly nutty, woody flavour.
Take control of your diet
Getting to the bottom of a food intolerance can be frustrating. Elimination diets are often recommended but it can be a slow process, involving removing one food at a time for a few weeks to see how you feel. Although many of us commonly react to a few different ingredients in our diets, the elimination diet is often abandoned when the first trigger food is discovered, leaving an incomplete picture of what’s causing you problems.
Get answers faster with Smartblood
When it comes to food intolerance testing, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable laboratory testing company.
At Smartblood, we offer a comprehensive test to help you take control of your diet quickly and discover your own trigger foods.
Our home-to-laboratory service gives you fast, accurate results that pinpoint exactly which foods you are reacting to. Tests are completed in our accredited laboratory by trained experts, with clear, easy to understand results sent to you via email within three days.
Dedicated nutritional support
Our food intolerance tests include a telephone consultation with our BANT registered Nutritional Therapist. This additional support is there to help you understand your results and put a plan together to make safe, sustainable changes to optimise your diet. If you can’t bear to part with your morning cuppa, make sure you chat to our Nutritional Therapist about good alternatives to help keep your energy levels up while you optimise your diet.