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To coffee or not to coffee?

Article on NutritionHealth and Wellness of Ayurveda
10min

So what are some of the pros and cons of coffee?

A study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who drank one cup of coffee daily were 12% less likely than noncoffee drinkers to die from cancer, stroke, and diabetes, or heart, kidney, or respiratory disease.

Yet evidence also suggests that coffee can affect women’s estrogen levels, raise blood pressure, and trigger an increased release of stress hormones.

According to Ayurveda, coffee causes vital energy in the body to move upwards (Udana Vayu) and outwards (Vyana Vayu), depleting the body of the sustenance and nourishment of this energy (Ojas). This torrent of energy moving up, towards the head and out of the body sends the nervous system into fight-or-flight mode and produces the ever-reliable, post-caffeine crash when the body finds itself depleted of its vitality and life-force.

The fight-or-flight response is activated for 3 weeks after 1 cup of coffee. 3 weeks! The limbic system of the brain, which captains our emotions, sex-drive and survival instincts, is thus turned all the way on, reducing our brain capacity to that of a caveman.

But many of us are nor ready to give up our caffeinated drink! We are emotionally and psychologically attached to it, as much as we want to argue.

Why do we feel the need for coffee?

Many people feel fogginess, constipation, cold, and sluggishness make waking up in the Kapha hours of the day—between 6 and 10 am.

Governed by Kapha dosha, mornings often are ruled by the feeling associated with this dosha profile: wet, grounding, dull, slow, and heavy.

Ayurveda has a relationship to each hour of the day, every season of the year, and every stage of life. If your dosha (constitutional make-up) is also ?apha, that doubles the heaviness and might lead to your problems getting up.

Coffee will help to stimulate the body and the mind—partly due to the caffeine and, according to Ayurveda, partly due to the tastes: pungent, bitter, and astringent. These tastes signal the body to “lighten up” and you get those lovely sensations of being more alert and energetic, and your bowels tell you to get to the throne asap!

So is there a way to keep drinking coffee and still minimize its risks?

  1. Buy good stuff: This means coffee that is organic, fair trade, and freshly roasted. The closest thing to the tree that you can get!
  2. Try to have a little something in your stomach before you take your first sip. Maybe some nice, warm, moist oatmeal with yummy spices
  3. Add spiced milk. Take even parts milk and coffee. Warm the milk on a stove until it softly boils. Add in freshly ground cinnamon and/or cardamom to the milk while it cooks. This spiced milk will add more ounces to your favorite morning drink and make it even easier to digest.
  4. Or try adding coconut oil as way to lower the heat if your Pitta dominant.

Are there ways to wake up and energize without coffee?

Drinking warm water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice will offer many of the same effects as a cup of coffee in the morning, There's much more that could be said on this, but for now, just consider taking this warm lemon-water tonic on an empty stomach, and notice how your body responds.

It’s best for Vata types to not consume coffee. Instead, you should try ginger tea is an option to help “heat” the digestive fire and stimulate the gut. Adding lemongrass to the tea will further help to feel energized.


About the author

Irina Bachvarova

Yoga Guru

Master in Sports Pedagogic and director at Bulgarian Ashtanga Yoga Academy.

Irina is the author of the first Bulgarian book for Ashtanga Yoga and trusted Yoga Guru for TV series, produced by Bulgarian National Television.



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