Caffeine And Lyme…Don’t Rhyme

Of all the foods I’ve been forced to wean myself off of since becoming ill, such as bread, pasta, cake, cereal, wine, chocolate and coffee, it is the latter that I have had the most difficult time parting company with.

Not that coffee is so much more sumptuous than pasta or chocolate-indeed, I adore chocolate and spaghetti with meatballs-but the effects of coffee are more seductive and enticing to this dragging-butt Lyme disease sufferer.

I suppose if I were severely depressed (which I have been in the past with this illness) then I might suffer greater separation anxiety from chocolate, but since I also rarely buy chocolate, it helps me not to crave it. Out of sight, out of mind.

But I´m forced to keep coffee in the house for liver cleanses, and seeing it in the fridge first thing in the morning, with lethargy like lead filling my limbs, I can´t help but brew a cup for my beckoning bloodstream. Just one eight ounce serving of my sumptuous Costa Rican brew is enough to send my morning companions, heaviness and lethargy, on their way.

The thing is, I tend to forget about the long-term effects of coffee upon my body. The instant zing of energy dulls my memory of all that I have had to do over the past four years to get my adrenal glands to function properly (which has included eliminating caffeine from my diet) and before I know it, I’m headed on a downward spiral.

Yes, I fare well for awhile, falsely believing that coffee really isn´t so bad. Until a month or two later and that downward spiral spits my butt to the ground. (And it’s as I’m going downhill that I start having fantasies about adding to my regimen a cup of green tea or some other caffeinated beverage in the afternoon, too).

I rarely heed the warning signals and the downhill slope I’m on until I notice my friends, Lethargy and Fatigue, showing up not only in the morning, but in the afternoon, too. Coffee may get rid of them for a few hours in the AM, but over the long haul, it entices them to stick around, for good.

I am stubborn, though. Whenever I start to realize what’s happening, my first reaction is denial, and I always find ways to justify keeping a bit of caffeine in my diet. Like today, when I purchased some chocolate-covered coffee beans from a vendor. Coffee AND chocolate? What was I thinking?? That this was somehow BETTER than having a cup of coffee this morning? That there were only twenty itty bitty coffee beans in that little paper bag–and that surely, the caffeine content couldn´t possibly match what I get from my morning brew? HELL-O?

Ah yes, the sure sign of an addict…denial. I must face the fact that it´s time to part company with coffee again…and watch the chocolate, too.

J. Wilson, author of the book, Adrenal Fatigue, believes that coffee impacts the adrenal glands more negatively than table sugar, wine or any other food. Why? Caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol–it essentially puts the body in a mild state of fight-or-flight, in a way that no other ingestant can, which, when constant, drains the adrenal glands and leaves the Lyme disease sufferer more fatigued than before.

Your body needs that cortisol to fight infection, not enable you to zip about your day like Speedy Gonzales.

Caffeine is deceptive. While it makes you feel good in the short run-it kills you over the long haul. A relatively healthy person may not appreciate this fact, and never perceive any negative effects from drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages, but we as Lyme disease sufferers can´t afford these kind of cheats in our diet.

Yes, it sucks to be slow in the morning. It´s tedious to have to make it through the first few hours of the day without something nice and warm and stimulating to jump-start the body into action, but by eliminating caffeine from our diet, we are preparing our bodies to feel better over the long haul, and not just in the morning, but at all times.

It is an investment that you may not reap immediate benefit from, but over time, you should notice positive change in your energy levels, and perhaps even in your other symptoms, especially sleep.

In the meantime, I will use this post to help me to practice what I preach, and forget finishing off that little bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans.