The simple answer is YES and NO.
Before I explain why, I would like to confess that I am a coffee lover through and through. I grew up in a culture where we drank coffee and not tea. It was my go-to drink and as I became older, it became my only breakfast and my steady companion during long days in the office.
Unbeknown to me, I was regularly using it as a crutch for when I needed something to eat, or to deal with stress or to get me past my regular 3pm afternoon slump. I had no idea of the impact it was having on my body as I never really paid attention. During my years in corporate I easily consumed anywhere between 5-7 cups of coffee a day and would add a few decaf coffees in for good measure.
Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely NOT saying that coffee is bad for you. To the contrary it offers some amazing antioxidants and nutrients and can actually be used to improve energy, sport performance and mental clarity to name a few. The key point to stress is that coffee/caffeine is ONLY good to drink if your body is healthy and balanced. It shouldn’t be used to mask your ongoing fatigue, hormone and mood imbalances and deal with the aftermath of insomnia.
So, what’s the deal with decaf then?
Many people think that simply by switching to decaffeinated coffee/tea that they will solve all their problems. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Decaffeinated coffee/tea is not really all that is said to be. The question you have to ask yourself, how did they remove the caffeine?
There are three methods used to extract caffeine from coffee and tea.
Method 1- the most common method used
The first step of this method is to soak the coffee beans in water, which allows the caffeine along with lots of the flavour, to dissolve. At this point they usually add chemical solvents, such as methylene chloride or ethyl acetate, before draining the water. Once drained the flavours removed needs to be put back into the beans and this is done by evaporating the water to leave the flavours behind.
Methylene chloride is a solvent used in paint strippers or removers and classed as an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC). More on this in a bit.
Method 2 – my preferred method
This is definitely the best method in my opinion, but sadly still not frequently used. This method uses water and charcoal as a filter to remove the caffeine. It is known as the ‘Swiss Filter Method’ or ‘Swiss Water Process’ and has definitely been gaining popularity over the last few years. There is no chemical residue left in the coffee and much healthier as a result.
This method uses carbon dioxide (CO2) at extremely high pressure to dissolve the caffeine. Personally, I have not yet tried this method, so honestly can’t comment on the flavour of the coffee.
Whilst the level of toxins left in the decaffeination process are deemed safe by European regulations, we know that these chemicals are known to disrupt the endocrine system (EDC).
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC)
The endocrine system is a network of glands and organs that make, store and secrete hormones. This system works with other bodily systems to help regulate optimal functioning. Certain chemicals, known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are either natural or synthetic substances that interfere with the way the endocrine system functions. These substances can come from the environment (water, air, soil), food, personal hygiene products or other manufactured products, such as mattresses, bedding, curtains, carpets, paint etc.
Some EDCs can impact the way that hormones communicate with each other. Others can mimic your natural hormones and thus trick the body into thinking that it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing, when really it’s not.
A few of the most common things that can happen with ECDs are that they can:
- block your natural hormones from doing their job
- increase/decrease the levels of hormones in your blood (yes this means your thyroid, oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels can be significantly affected)
- affect your body’s hormone receptors by making them less sensitive
EDCs have been linked to low thyroid levels, infertility, endometriosis, metabolic issues, learning disability, immune dysfunction and more.
Why not just drink normal coffee?
Trust me I would if I could! I think the large majority of women with thyroid issues will echo that coffee just doesn’t agree with them. It can leave you feeling jittery or worse make your thyroid symptoms flare and even if you don’t feel anything, it can cause havoc without you knowing it.
Whilst coffee has many benefits, it also directly impacts cortisol production. This can lead to:
- lower levels of TSH and thus less available thyroid hormone in the body
- increase in inflammation (especially in stressed and inflamed bodies)
- greater fluctuations in blood sugar balance
- increase high blood pressure
- less sleep, especially if drunk after 11am in the morning
- increased anxiety or greater mood swings
- sex hormone imbalances (especially male hormones, which can be super problematic if you have PCOS)
If you are dealing with thyroid issues, hormone imbalances (PMS falls in this category), gut issues, mood, sleep or weight imbalances, then I would suggest that you consider using swiss filtered decaffeinated coffee for a few months and to review the impact this has on your body and health.
I have personally been using Raw Bean Coffee for the last few years with great success. Don’t get me wrong, I still limit my intake to a couple of cups a week (that’s what suits my body and thyroid best), but I definitely feel like I am getting my coffee fix. A few weeks ago, I read about Exhale a coffee loaded with antioxidants that has recently hit the market. Having tried the mountain-water filtered decaffeinated coffee myself, whilst hubby tried the caffeinated coffee, we can both vouch for how delicious this coffee is.
Just to confirm, I am not affiliated to either of these brands, but feel they both offer a brilliant alternative for people with health issues looking for a healthier decaffeinated coffee.
I would love to know whether you already drink decaffeinated coffee and if so which brands you use? I would also love to know whether you notice the effect that caffeine has on your thyroid and your health?
Hope you found this article helpful. Look forward to reading your comments below. Share this post with any of your friends or family that you feel might benefit.