There is something both pleasing to the taste and comforting about sipping a hot cup of coffee in the morning for most people. I personally enjoy something warm to drink as I sit down to read my Bible in the early morning.
But did you know that the caffeine in regular coffee can be dangerous to your health? Sure, research has shown that caffeine can have positive health benefits, but be careful to weigh them against the negative. As believers, it is especially important to consider the effects of caffeine on our bodies. I’ll explain why as we learn about it.
Caffeine is a stimulant, elevating heart rate, increasing blood flow and raising body temperature. It works by sending messages to your brain to rapidly fire neurons. Your brain releases adrenalin, the hormone that initiates the “fight or flight” in response in us. You have an adrenalin “high,” often leading to the felt need to reach for more caffeine as it wears off. Or, you come down from the “high” and feel fatigued or irritable. Do you know the feeling I’m talking about? This exhausts your adrenals, which produce the hormones.
Some people are affected differently. I for one, cannot handle much caffeine. A regular cup of coffee at 2pm would easily keep me awake until 2am. I am very sensitive to it. I know others who can drink it at 11pm and go to sleep 30 minutes later.
In addition to the aforementioned facts, caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it causes you to go to the bathroom to shed water. It also elevates blood sugar levels and can become addictive. It is discouraged during pregnancy. Read why:
“Caffeine crosses the placenta to your baby. Although you may be able to handle the amounts of caffeine you feed your body, your baby cannot. Your baby’s metabolism is still maturing and cannot fully metabolize the caffeine. Any amount of caffeine can also cause changes in your baby’s sleep pattern or normal movement pattern in the later stages of pregnancy. Remember, caffeine is a stimulant and can keep both you and your baby awake.”
“Numerous studies on animals have shown that caffeine can cause birth defects, preterm delivery, reduced fertility, and increase the risk of low-birth weight offspring and other reproductive problems. There have not been any conclusive studies done on humans though. It is still better to play it safe when it comes to inconclusive studies.”
Most women understand the risks of consuming caffeine during pregnancy and seek to avoid it. However, why not start a lifestyle of avoiding it? Be working to provide a hospitable place for a baby to grow. Stopping as soon as you find out you are pregnant would likely be beneficial, but there might still be risks to the baby from conception until you realize you have conceived.
Now, while all of these are good reasons to avoid caffeine, the most concerning aspect of it to me (aside from the risks posed to a developing baby) is the potential to become dependent on it. Because of this fact, as believers, I think it is extremely important that we examine the role caffeine has in our life. How many people do you know “must” have coffee to start their day? It’s not the coffee they need, but the caffeine. Why the need for it? Often, we feel tired and in need of strength either physically or mentally to face our daily responsibilities.
In the Bible, the word “strength” is used several times when referring to what God gives his people to face their daily burdens and challenges. We are even told to pray for strength and to rely on God, not ourselves. Read a few of the references:
“…whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. “ 1 Peter 4:11
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service…” 1 Timothy 1:12
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Ephesians 6:10
“…may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth…” Ephesians 3:18
“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. “ 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
“But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36
Addiction is a dangerous thing. That word is not actually used in the Bible. Nope, “slave” is used instead. When we are addicted to something, we are enslaved. We are in bondage. Paul specifically says that he will not be enslaved to anything:
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. ” 1 Corinthians 6:12
Are we possibly shortchanging ourselves the opportunity for God to work in our lives by running to caffeine to start out days, or depending on it to make it through our days? Imagine how much praise and glory we could ascribe to Him for answering our pleas for strength and energy!
For all of these reasons, we have made it a rule of thumb to avoid caffeine. Now, we do enjoy chocolate, which contains caffeine, but in a much smaller amount than coffee. We also enjoy it from time to time, not daily (though we do get in ruts sometimes. We are human!). Caffeine once in a while probably will not harm your health. But, if it is your habit to avoid caffeine, when you do consume it you may experience more severe effects.
There are alternatives to drinking coffee in the morning. I personally enjoy hot herbal tea, or my favorite, Teechino. It is a coffee substitute that does not contain caffeine, but I won’t lie and tell you that it tastes like coffee. It has a unique taste which I enjoy. There are several flavors and it is available online and in health food stores. If it’s the flavor of coffee you like, I recommend drinking Swiss-water processed decaffeinated coffee. Regular caffeinated coffee has been treated with chemicals to remove the caffeine.
And, to be fair, caffeine can be used medicinally to overcome the effects of sin in this world. That is the purpose of all legitimate medicines or medical procedures. However, it probably shouldn’t be used to facilitate a chronic lifestyle that is detrimental to long-term health, and it shouldn’t be the object of addiction-indicating cravings.
I urge you, sister in Christ, to evaluate your reason for reaching for the coffee cup each morning. Are you depending on caffeine or the Lord?