Is coffee and alcohol bad for you?
On my 30 Days Wilde challenge I gave up coffee and alcohol. As someone who works full time and is pretty active, I used to use coffee to manage my energy throughout the day and alcohol as a tool to relax and unwind. The problem is I became too reliant on these two liquids to a point where I believed I couldn't function without them. Reliance on any "drug" be it caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes to function is not a state you want to find yourself in.
Surrendering these potent stimulants and relaxants was my way of regaining control over my body, however, there are a few extra health benefits to having a coffee and alcohol detox...
The insulin insight
The biological reason for taking a coffee and alcohol hiatus was to restore healthy insulin response. Insulin is the hormone released by the pancreas to aid in the absorption of glucose. Carbohydrates (sugars and starch) are broken down into glucose - insulin is released and accompanies the glucose around the bloodstream, helping our liver, muscle and cells absorb the glucose for energy. A higher habitual use of coffee can lead to insulin sensitivity, yet moderate amounts have proven beneficial. However, more of something that is good for you doesn't make it better. And as I was hammering the coffees (and wine), I felt a 30 day hiatus would do me good and allow me and my body the opportunity to identify the optimum intake for me post my 30 day challenge,
And what about leptin?
Insulin is important, and numerous stress factors (such as caffeine and alcohol consumption) can contribute to insulin resistance. However, the daddy of all hormones is leptin - discovered in 1994, this major hormone influences all other hormones and is found in our fat cells. Whilst we get fat shamed by society, few understand that our fat stores are a complex, sophisticated endocrine organ. Leptin is essentially our survival hormone, and our bodies put survival before all other functions and hence leptin is boss. It regulates energy intake and expenditure i.e. when we feel hungry and full. High levels of leptin signal we are full, low levels we are hungry.
Leptin and insulin are both affected by glucose - chronic carbohydrate consumption results in blood glucose surges (one reason why the 30 Days Wilde challenge also restricts carbohydrate intake) - which deregulates leptin and insulin and can throw our whole endocrine system off balance. In addition to heavy carbs, natural sugars, caffeine and alcohol can also disrupt leptin and insulin.
Resistance to leptin and insulin mean our cells are not listening to the messages sent by leptin and insulin, which leads no where good.
It's only 30 days...
Friends and family have concluded I am crazy for surrendering coffee and alcohol for 30 days. I see it as an opportunity to determine how I function in their absence, and ascertain how my body responds when I reintroduce them post 30 days. Nothing is forever and I will most certainly be drinking coffee and alcohol again, but the hope is that I will be in control of their consumption and not them in control of me.