Nothing can be as pleasant as coffee in the morning. People claim that coffee can set the day just fine. It can provide the vigor and energy to perform the expected activities ahead. However, there are experts who believe that early morning might be one of the bad times to drink coffee, and it is linked to one of the most important hormones in the body, the Cortisol.
Uses of Cortisol in the Body
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is famous for being the major key in ‘fight-or-flight’ response, which is a life-saving reaction in cases of extreme events and emergencies. There are several important roles the cortisol plays in the body.
- Metabolism. Breaking down important compounds to simpler ones, such as glycogen to glucose, is one of the important functions of cortisol. It is helpful during fasting or when there is an urgent need for energy. Long term, cortisol eventually aids the liver to store the glucose which is unused by the tissues, in cases of long-term starvation.
- Immunity. Cortisol is also involved in the process of inflammation. It has the weakening effect of the immune system, which is not entirely negative. The role of cortisol during the process is vital in preventing the over activity of some of the antibody response cells. In fact, one of the highlights of its role includes taming the pain in rheumatoid arthritis and decreasing the symptoms of allergies. There are also drug preparations for common skin problems, such as rashes and eczema, with cortisol content which are sold over-the-counter.
- Electrolyte and Water Balance. Cortisol can induce diuresis, or water loss, in the body. This is particularly essential among individuals who are suffering from edema and other medical problems that are suggestive of water retention. The cortisol also has task to control the sodium and potassium levels in the blood, which are critical in many organ functions.
- Sleep. Cortisol also affects sleep pattern. It works by setting the diurnal wake and rest pattern. Sleeping pattern is not present at birth, but can be set by the daylight and dark cycles and the help of some bodily chemicals.
- Memory and Mood. Another significant function of cortisol is creating memories, even short-term but emotionally-charged events. Cortisol is also a known factor in preventing depression, because it can cause heightened emotions such as happiness and euphoria.
Coffee Can Interfere with the Production of Cortisol
It is important to understand that the caffeine in the coffee interferes with the cortisol production. Caffeine has similar effects of the cortisol, and in some instances, makes a good replacement for it. However, the body will develop increased reliance on it instead of the hormone. It ends up synthesizing less and less cortisol every time it entrust the tasks to caffeine.
When the body hit very low level of cortisol circulating in the blood, it may result to the following medical conditions.
- Mild depression
- Ineffective thyroid function
- Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar level
- Sleep disturbances
- Low blood pressure
- Maladaptive immune functions
Coffee Can Increase Individual’s Caffeine Tolerance
Each time an individual drinks coffee as a form of daily habit, he/she is also increasing his tolerance to caffeine. The natural cortisol cycle of morning energy might also be disrupted, that the person cannot be jolted to work without that dab of caffeine in the system. It may also imply that as the years go by, a single cup of coffee daily may not be as effective as two cups anymore and so on.
Individuals who have the habit of drinking coffee early in the morning should consider changing their schedule in order to maintain the normal process of the cortisol production and release. According to some experts, the best times of the day when the person can get the best out of coffee are between 10 AM to 12 PM and 2PM to 5PM.