Improving Health After Years of Drinking Coffee, Regular or Decaffeinated

By Donna F. Smith, Ph.D., N.D., C.C.N.


Today, most people are aware to avoid coffee, though some may still think decaffeinated is okay. In this article, you will go beyond the fact that only "caffeine" in coffee is harmful for you. You will learn some nutritional biochemical facts about regular and decaffeinated coffee to give you additional reasons to avoid both, and learn how to improve your health after years of drinking coffee. Few people are aware of the subtle and lasting side effects of long-term coffee drinking unless one is proactive in improving their health after years of drinking coffee.

Another purpose of this article is to answer some of the questions people have about drinking coffee. For example, is the "buzz." of energy bad for me. Many people think, " I can't get up and out in the morning without my coffee." Another question, this article will answer is how coffee causes the bowels to move. Some people boast, "I am regular as clockwork as long as I drink my coffee." It is important to have energy and regularly detoxify waste from the body; however, for the good coffee appears to be doing, when you understand how coffee does this, you may want to reconsider drinking coffee.

Coffee overworks the adrenal glands and adversely affects sports performance. It also interferes with some medications for pain, depression, hypertension and obesity. Coffee causes nutritional deficiencies which can lead to poor athletic performance and nutrition-related diseases.

Healthy alternatives to coffee are included in this article. Some of these healthier beverages have a wonderful coffee-flavor yet are not made from coffee beans. This way, coffee-lovers can have the best of both worlds, the taste without side effects.


Most people are aware of the ill affect of drinking coffee because it contains caffeine. Actually, coffee is a narcotic beverage. The caffeine in the coffee belongs to the same alkaloid group of chemicals as morphine, cocaine and strychnine. It is no surprise then why people have such a difficult time, at first, letting go of coffee, and replacing it with healthier beverages. Caffeine combines with the stomach s hydrochloric acid and forms a potent toxin, caffeine hydrochloride. As this toxin is absorbed into your portal circulation and hits your liver, bile is released in an attempt to flush the toxin from your system. This accounts for the increase in bowel "regularity" of which many coffee drinkers boast. If you are one of these people, you might ask yourself, "Is such a toxin-induced flush really very health promoting? Or Isn't there a healthier way for me to be regular?" The answer, of course, is "No" to the first, and "Yes" to the second question. (For a healthier method of regularity, see the section below on the liver.)


Drinking decaffeinated coffee is no better than drinking regular coffee because of the large concentration of the chemical Trichloroethylene. It is used mainly as a de-greasing agent in the metal industry and as a solvent and dry cleaning agent in the clothing industry. Trichloroethylene is related to plastic chemical vinyl chloride, which has been linked to certain types of liver cancer. Columbian coffee planters have regularly used deadly pesticides on their plants for over 20 years. Some include Aldrin, Dieldrin, Chlordane and Heptachlor. Some speculate that coffee beans are the most significant source of these deadly toxins in U.S. diets.

The extreme temperatures in the roasting process of coffee beans depletes the beans of its natural oils. Though it may enhance their aroma, high heat actually causes the oils to become rancid.

The chlorogenic acid found in coffee has also been linked to toxic side effects.


Coffee has an acid-based oil which is an irritant to gastric mucosa. It simulates the secretion of gastric acidity and this results in secretion of adrenalin. The secretion of adrenalin stimulates insulin secretion with consequent secondary hypoglycemia. The end results are tension, mild rise in blood pressure, 2-3 hours later a craving for sweets, low energy and mood levels, and over working of the adrenal glands. All of which negatively affects health, exercise and sports performance.


The secondary rise in plasma epinephrine due to the low blood sugar will undo whatever good medications are doing to counteract the hyperactive dopaminergic system in patients suffering from pain, obesity, hypertension or depression. A few minutes after drinking coffee, the stimulation of the dopaminergic system results in cold extremities along with simultaneous rise in deep (visceral) temperature. A patient with high fever is harmed by coffee, but helped by tea and lemon juice. The decaffeinated coffee contains the same acid oil, and thus is no better than regular coffee.


Heavy coffee drinkers create Thiamine (B-1) insufficiency. Symptoms of B-1 insufficiency range from fatigue, nervousness, general malaise, general aches and pains to headaches.

Regular use of coffee prevents some of the nutrients in your food from being absorbed effectively in your small intestines, which leads to further vitamin and mineral deficiencies.


The "buzz" or stimulation you get from coffee actually contributes to re-bound fatigue when the stimulating effects wear off. Repeated stimulation can contribute to the exhaustion of key organs like the liver, pancreas and adrenal glands. If you still want that "buzz" you get from coffee and strong teas, try Chinese Jasmine Green Tea, instead. It has an effective stimulant without many of the negative health effects.


If you would like a beverage with a coffee taste without the side effects, try Nature s Sunshine Products' "Herbal Beverage." I have recommended Herbal Beverage to my clients for years with continued positive feedback. You may also enjoy other herbal blends with a coffee-like taste found in health food stores.

Besides coffee, some of the strong teas we grew up with also contain caffeine. These are still being served in most restaurants. A better alternative would be Traditional s Dinner Mint Tea. Blackberry Tea is another good choice. After having used strong tea and coffee for many years, you may think some herbal teas taste weak and have no flavor in comparison when you make the switch. You must realize, first, that your taste buds have been conditioned for "strong" beverages. It will, also, take some weeks to detoxify your tongue of the chemicals in strong beverages so that you may truly enjoy the wonderful flavors and variety of herbal teas. To help you during this transition, try this suggestion: use 2-3 herbal tea bags, instead of one, and let it steep for a longer period of time. This will help to make the herbal tea stronger tasting.

Be sure to read labels and ask questions whenever you are served traditional tea and coffee. Keep healthy tea bags in your purse or wallet and request a cup of hot water when dining outside the home.

If you are unable to locate the above-mentioned healthy beverages, please e-mail my office and I will be glad to help you find someone near you to supply these items.


Because of the overload on the liver to detoxify chemical residues, long-term coffee drinkers often have a toxic, congested liver and impure blood. The function of the liver is to filter the blood so the blood can nourish the cells. Just like your car's oil filter, filters the oil that gets distributed through your automobile. When the liver is congested, it cannot function properly. The blood does not get filtered and it circulates through the body depositing impure blood into the cells. The cells, then, can not regenerate and grow healthy tissue. The long-term effect, when cells cannot regenerate, is its opposite -- degenerative cells which leads to degenerative diseases.

An example of a toxic, congested liver is dark spots on the skin as the person gets older. Some people refer to them as brown or liver spots. In later years, these spots merge to the point that they no longer appear as spots, but discoloration of skin. Other examples include a lack of absorption of minerals resulting in gray hair, a protruded stomach, constipation, spastic colons, irritable bowels, a swollen or enlarged gall bladder, and high cholesterol and triglycerides, even after faithfully following a cholesterol-free or limiting diet. In fact, many new clients come to me frustrated because they have been watching their cholesterol intake for months, even years, and still have high cholesterol. This is a definite sign that the liver is congested and over-producing cholesterol.

A more scientific method of determining if you have a congested liver is to have your blood serum liver enzymes and other liver-related blood chemistries "nutritionally" analyzed. Here is an exercise that will give you an idea of how this is done and if you may presently have a congested liver. Pull your file copy of the Laboratory Report from the last time your doctor ordered a blood test for you.

If you do not have a copy, call your doctor's office. Ask the secretary which day this week a copy of your last lab report can be ready so you may come by the office to pick it up. If you wait for the doctor's office to mail it, you may not get it. After all, they are very busy helping people with higher priorities. In the future, whenever you have laboratory tests ordered, be sure to request a copy for your home files when the blood is being drawn.

Once you have a copy of your laboratory report, check these liver-related chemistries. If one or more of your test results fall below or above numbers under "Chemical Imbalance," your liver may be congested.

SGOT (AST) -18 or 26+ 18 to 26(0 - 45)
SGPT (ALT) -16 or 26+16 to 26(0 - 50)
GGT Above 361 to 36(0 - 85)

Total Bilirubin -.50 or .70+
means below and = means above

.50 to 70 (0.1-1.2) -

For example, when looking on your Laboratory Report at the SGOT (AST) you will see the name of this test is listed on the left side of the page along with the names of all the other blood chemistries. Now follow the line to the right and you will see the test result value of your SGOT (AST). In fact, you will notice a column with all your test result values to the right of the column with the names of the chemistries. Then to the right of your SGOT (AST) value, you will see another column with a range of two numbers on each line. For SGOT (AST), you may see a range of numbers from 0 - 45. The ranges vary depending upon the laboratory used to run the report.

The ranges listed on your laboratory report (for example 0-45 for SGOT) are used by your physician to diagnosis your "medical" condition.

However, when I interpret the same laboratory reports "nutritionally," I am analyzing your blood chemistries for homeostasis and use a different set of ranges. Homeostasis means nutritional biochemical balance.

For you to have a nutritional healthy SGOT (AST), your test result value must be between 18-26, if your Laboratory Report listed 0-45 in the right column ranges. From 0-18 or 26-45, you have a nutritional biochemical imbalance. Biochemical imbalances of the liver can lead to a sluggish, toxic, congested liver (underactive or overactive), which may then lead to liver dysfunction, and, in time, to nutrition-related liver diseases.

Because there are many other factors involved, in addition to the nutritional analysis of your liver-related blood chemistries, and your Laboratory Reports may not have the same right column ranges as were used to provide the above calculations, you will not be able to make an accurate determination of your liver status from your laboratory report and the information in this article. However, you will be able to get an idea of how congested your liver may be. The above chemistry values and ranges provided in this article are for demonstration only, not for an accurate nutritional assessment of your blood chemistries.

Clinical nutrition protocols recommended from the nutritional analysis of blood chemistries are designed to assist the body in returning to homeostasis.


After reviewing your Laboratory Report and the information above, do you think you may have a congested liver? If you do, your liver is acting like a dirty car filter that needs to be changed so it can filter the oil and keep the mechanical parts clean as it circulates through your automobile. A sluggish, toxic liver, not performing to its capacity, will slow sports performance, slow healing and so on, just like sluggish, oil will slow down the performance of your automobile. You may not be able to change your liver, like you can your car filter, but you can get a clinical nutritional analysis of your blood chemistries. 

From this analysis, a clinical nutrition program can be recommended to assist in cleansing and re-nourishing your liver. Then soon your liver will filter your blood properly again and send pure, healthy blood to all your cells. You may be amazed at how much better you can feel with a healthy, clean functioning liver. The liver, because of its role in blood purification, affects every cell, tissue, organ and gland in your body. Therefore, every cell, tissue, organ and gland feels better when the liver improves.


To improve your health, you must eliminate toxic substances from your diet, such as coffee and strong teas, and then detoxify the chemical residues in the liver, resulting from long-term ingestion of these substances. To do the latter, obtain a clinical nutrition analysis of your blood chemistries to receive specific clinical nutrition recommendations on how to assist your body in cleansing and re-nourishing its liver.

Some health benefits reported from clients during and after this process are: beautiful skin (liver and brown spots disappear - even in the elderly); gray hair turns to natural colors of brown or black, cholesterol and triglycerides become normal without following a cholesterol-free diet, stomachs become flatter that never could before even with exercise, energy and endurance increases, gall bladders improve, bowels eliminate regularly without spasms or irritability, blood pressure becomes normal and many others.

You may request information on how to obtain a clinical nutrition analysis of your blood chemistries by e-mailing or browse our web at

Dr. Donna F. Smith holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Nutrition, is a Naturopathic Doctor (N.D.) and a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist (C.C.N.). Dr. Smith has a success rate of 90% in helping her clients improve their health, no matter what their current health concern, and her clientele encompasses 35 U.S. States and four international countries.

References: Hooshang Hooskmand, M.D., and Mark Percival, D.C., N.D.

Copyright 1999 by Donna F. Smith

Click here for a good article about caffeine and why you shouldn't put it in your body.


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