Break­ing the cof­fee habit

New Zealand’s favourite well­be­ing ex­pert an­swers read­ers’ ques­tions about their health.

Matamata Chronicle - - Out&about -

Ques­tion: I’m try­ing to drink less cof­fee, as I’m go­ing through a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion and no­tice that af­ter I drink it my heart races and I of­ten end up feel­ing more tired. Any ad­vice on what I can use as a sub­sti­tute? Thanks, Cait

Some peo­ple are per­fectly OK hav­ing a cup of cof­fee in the morn­ing, but for oth­ers, it makes their heart race and they know that when they drink it, it just doesn’t serve them – so good on you for ob­serv­ing how it makes you feel.

Drink­ing cof­fee can be a tough habit to break; in fact more of­ten than not I find peo­ple are more up­set about re­duc­ing their cof­fee consumption than their al­co­hol consumption.

A really great al­ter­na­tive to cof­fee is green tea. It still con­tains caf­feine but much less of it. It’s not only a won­der­ful source of an­tiox­i­dants, it also con­tains the amino acid L-thea­nine, which has a calm­ing ef­fect on the ner­vous sys­tem. A far more nour­ish­ing way to start your day than with caf­feine-rich and ner­vous-sys­tem­stim­u­lat­ing cof­fee.

An­other al­ter­na­tive is dan­de­lion root. This is one of the clos­est cof­fee al­ter­na­tives you’ll get in terms of flavour. Roasted dan­de­lion and chicory root come to­gether to give you a fairly close taste and tex­ture. Dan­de­lion tea/ dan­de­lion root are great liv­er­friendly al­ter­na­tives to cof­fee. It tastes par­tic­u­larly nice with warm al­mond milk and a lit­tle bit of honey (if needed). Ex­cess caf­feine can de­crease the ab­sorp­tion of min­er­als such as mag­ne­sium, cal­cium and iron – so it is al­ways best to mod­er­ate your consumption of caf­feine. Ques­tion: Many of my work col­leagues are do­ing the ‘‘FODMAPS’’ diet, with, it seems, great re­sults for their gut is­sues. Are you able to ex­plain what FODMAPS is? Kind re­gards, Heather

Stud­ies sug­gest that a FODMAP or low-FODMAP diet can sig­nif­i­cantly relieve ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome (IBS) symp­toms for many peo­ple. It has been es­ti­mated that at least 10-20 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion are af­fected by this con­di­tion. The di­ag­no­sis of IBS gen­er­ally re­lies upon the types of symp­toms ex­pe­ri­enced and their con­text, such as how long they have been ex­pe­ri­enced and when they tend to oc­cur.

From a nu­tri­tional per­spec­tive, cer­tain foods and their com­po­nents can cause the bowel to dis­tend by draw­ing in more fluid and rapidly gen­er­at­ing gas when they are fer­mented by our bowel bac­te­ria. The main di­etary com­po­nents that do this are known as fer­mentable, poorly ab­sorbed short-chain car­bo­hy­drates. In other words, they are in­di­gestible sug­ars that pro­vide easy food for bac­te­ria. Th­ese sug­ars have been given the Email your ques­tions for Dr Libby to ask.dr­libby@fair­fax­me­ Please note, only a se­lec­tion of ques­tions can be an­swered.

acro­nym FODMAP, which stands for:


— quickly bro­ken down by bac­te­ria in our bowel

— fruc­tans and galacto-oligosac­cha­rides (GOS) — lac­tose

— fruc­tose


Dis­ac­cha­rides Monosac­cha­rides And Poly­ols

— sor­bitol, man­ni­tol, xyl­i­tol and malti­tol

If you’re con­sid­er­ing an ex­per­i­ment with a FODMAPs diet, it is best to seek ad­vice from a qual­i­fied health pro­fes­sional who is ex­pe­ri­enced with FODMAP di­ets to en­sure you still get all the nu­tri­ents you need. Plus they can guide you with bring­ing foods back, when that is ap­pro­pri­ate, as un­nec­es­sar­ily re­strict­ing the diet is not ideal.

Photo: 123RF

Some­times it seems that no mat­ter how much cof­fee you drink you just feel more tired.

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