Coffee is a legal drug. I do not advocate that coffee lovers, suddenly stop their coffee consumption, if they are heavy coffee drinkers.
Recent statistics indicate that globally, coffee drinkers on average consume over 2 billion cups of coffee daily. As an avid coffee lover, I happily contribute to this statistic. I immensely enjoy drinking coffee: the aroma, the velvety taste. I even admire the pretty artwork done on my delicious cappuccino at my favourite local cafe.
Surprisingly for some people, I wasn’t always a coffee lover, I had previously preferred a nice steaming cup of green tea instead. Hence, I initially was not able to understand why people would succumb to the allure of coffee. My husband introduced me to coffee. He drinks espresso, not just any run-of-the-mill espresso either, but the high class variety with the fancy Italian names. Savouring every sip with a very contented and relaxed demeanour.
I was intrigued why it elicited so much joy and tried coffee for the first time in my adult life over a decade ago. It was not long before, it became part of my morning ritual. This hot beverage called coffee, that I had paid no interest to for many years. Now that I was converted to coffee, I could have a “proper” coffee catch-up with my friends and not feel like the odd one out, drinking my plain cup of tea.
People consume coffee for various reasons, but mainly because it helps coffee drinkers to be more mentally alert and is a mood altering substance. It falls under the drugs category as a stimulant. Hence, it is not surprising that certain individuals are heavily addicted to coffee, drinking upwards to eight cups daily. Stating that they are not able to function without their favourite hot drink. The reality is that they should not be drinking coffee, especially if they are trying to fall pregnant or significantly improve their wellbeing.
The number of adverse health effects are higher than the benefits of drinking coffee. Some opponents of coffee even refer to it as “Black Poison.” The psychoactive substance in coffee is caffeine, therefore it has a natural diuretic effect in the human body. Contributing to the malabsorption of magnesium and calcium. These two minerals work in partnership with each other, when calcium levels are insufficient it affects the absorption of magnesium.
The Risk for Pregnant Woman
Another major essential mineral, that is also adversely affected by caffeine is iron. Individuals in child bearing years, who are iron deficient should refrain from drinks containing caffeine, such as coca-cola, energy drinks, copious cups of hot chocolate, black tea and especially coffee. The high caffeine levels in coffee, inhibits the ability to absorb iron that is needed to oxygenate the red blood cells, that assists with ovulation. Leading to an increased chance of having infertility issues.
This is particularly important for women and men who are experiencing infertility issues or attempting to conceive a baby in general. For women it affects their production of good quality cervical mucus, the absence of this biological marker can decline or even be a barrier to conception. Men who drink coffee, negatively impact their production of good quality sperm. Good quality cervical mucus and good quality sperm, go hand in hand, if a couple want to increase their chances of conceiving a baby.
Regular coffee consumption can also increase the risk of a pregnant woman experiencing a miscarriage. It is important to remember that there is no such thing as “I drink just a little bit, it’s no big deal”. This is a phrase that I’ve heard over and over again in my many years of clinical practice, from women trying to conceive, pregnant women and postnatal women.
Sometimes couples sit in utter disbelief and resistance, not wanting to acknowledge and accept that the ordinary cups of coffee they drink daily, several times a day can play a major contributing role to their infertility. And if they are already pregnant, they fail to recognise that the inability to overcome their coffee habit is adversely harming not only them but their unborn baby.
Even drinking coffee after giving birth is detrimental, not only to the mother but also their new born baby’s health, especially if breastfeeding is practiced.
To put it another way, when a pregnant woman or breastfeeding mother drinks coffee, her unborn or new born baby is inadvertently drinking coffee as well. The negative impact of this can range from the more benign issue of having an irritable, crying baby to more serious consequences such as giving birth to a preterm baby.
Coffee is a legal drug, loved by many people throughout the world and hence, caffeine withdrawal symptoms can occur when giving up drinking coffee. So I do not advocate that coffee lovers, suddenly stop their coffee consumption, if they are heavy coffee drinkers. Reducing coffee consumption with the end goal of eliminating it, should be a gradual physiological and psychological process.
Can I Drink De-Caffeinated Coffee Instead?
It is important to note that drinking de-caffeinated coffee is not a substitute for completely removing coffee out of the diet. Coffee that is marked as de-caffeinated, does not equate to zero caffeine levels. De-caffeinated coffee indicates that the caffeine levels are not significantly high enough, to qualify as “regular” coffee. For people who are having great difficulty with eliminating coffee consumption. A good rule of thumb when watching caffeine consumption is that, two cups of black tea equates to one cup of regular black coffee. A similar rule applies to drinking, two cups of de-caffeinated coffee.
What Are The Alternatives?
So what should a pregnant woman or couple trying to conceive drink? There are healthy alternatives to coffee, such as chicory that tastes similar to coffee or better still, herbal teas that are good for you and taste good too. There are various women's health herbal teas available, that assists with increasing fertility, interestingly studies have shown that it can also be beneficial for men’s fertility too. Additionally, women’s herbal tea prevents the risk of miscarriages and expedites postnatal recovery. Women’s herbal tea can also assist with a woman’s overall health issues such as PMS (Pre-menstrual Syndrome) and hormonal imbalances. Eliminating coffee out of the dietary intake, provides an opportunity to cleanse the body of the built up toxins.
Let’s take a moment to think about where your coffee originated, coffee plantations are sprayed with a multitude of pesticides and herbicides and who knows what else? Do you really want these toxic chemicals absorbed into your bloodstream or hindering the health and development of your unborn or new born child? There is a plethora of other adverse effects associated with coffee drinking, such as joint inflammation, increased histamine levels, loss of bone density but for the purpose of this article focusing on fertility and women's health, I will not elaborate further.
It is strongly recommended that people drink more water, consume fresh fruit or vegetable juices to increase antioxidants for starters, if they don't like hot beverages or herbal teas in particular. Their body will be healthier and well hydrated. Throughout my many years of clinical experience, I have always emphasised to my clients: You need to have good general health, Before you even start to think about taking action to have good fertility to conceive.
I wish you good health of body, mind and spirit.