Stress, Caffeine and Adrenal Fatigue (Plus a recipe for a Chocolate Maca Chai Tea)

by Nyamka Bayanmunkh in


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I have a daily caffeine habit that I have been working hard to curb it. Currently I have one cup of black tea every morning. It used to be more.  Back in the day to keep my energy levels up through the day I had coffee in the morning, and then continue the day with countless cups of black tea until I went to bed. I was so exhausted even with all that caffeine as soon as my head hit the pillow I fell asleep.

I needed caffeine to function because without it my body didn't have enough energy. Instead of slowing down and looking after my self I just upped the caffeine. Taking time out to nurse my to health was not an option. If I just had enough coffee and black  tea I could do everything but my body was struggling to keep up with it all.

I had dark circles under my eyes, I had excess cravings for salty food, my muscles on top my eye regularly twitched, sometimes my neck muscles twitched so hard I almost threw my neck out, I woke up at night because of painful leg cramps, I got light headed when I stood up,  I had very painful PMS symptoms, and my hair was going grey all at the ripe age of  20.

Of course not all of the symptoms were the result of my excess caffeine consumption. I was tired and worn out without the caffeine, but the caffeine was definitely not helping.

Caffeine is a stimulant that binds to the adenosine receptors in the brain. This leads to a range of complex reactions such as an increase of stimulation at the adrenal glands, over time it can lead to adrenal fatigue.

Caffeine  stimulates our heart,  makes our  blood vessels dilate, increases our blood pressure and amplify  our stress hormones making us more alert and concentrated even when we are tired and worn out.

The endocrine system is sensitive and a small change in your hormone levels can have a significant effect. Over time elevated stress hormones due to a stressful life or from the over consumption of caffeine wears your body out and can  increase vulnerability to a variety of health disorders related to inflammation and fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is a common occurrence in individuals who are tired and highly wired, which is what I was.

If your life is in danger and you need  to be alert to save yourself  having tons of caffeine makes sense. However, being on it every single day I was just putting undue stress on my endocrine system when it was already messed up from  my stressful life plus the antibiotics, and the other prescription pills. 

As I learnt more about health and nutrition I realised I had to stop living this stressed out full to the brim life and stop relying on  caffeine to get through my day. Cutting out that one cup of coffee in the morning was not easy. The headaches were painful and I wanted to turn to caffeine whenever I felt tired, which was very often. The headaches went away in a few days and within a month my caffeine tolerance had adjusted.

My terrible  health symptoms went away over a period of few months. I wasn't going  grey haired prematurely and I had enough energy to get  through the day with just one cup of caffeinated tea.

Now I have one cup of black tea in the morning, rest of the day I have water and herbal teas. When I have 2 cups of caffeinated tea I become jittery and shaky. So for now it's only one cup of caffeinated tea. I savour that one cup because soon I'll be going completely caffeine free. I have a feeling I will feel even better than I do now with no caffeine.

Below is a recipe for my Chocolate Maca Chai Tea, my favourite caffeinated drink for the time being. It's a warming, spicy, chocolate-y and creamy. If you want you can also leave out the chocolate because it has a bit of caffeine too.

Chocolate Maca Chai Tea

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of of boiling water
  • 1 chai tea bag
  • 1 tbsp of  coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of milk of your choice
  • 1 tbsp of cacao powder
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • stevia/honey/rice malt syrup to sweeten it  (optional)

Directions:

  1. Infuse tea for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove tea bag. Pour hot tea into the blender and add rest of ingredients. Blend and pour into a large mug. Top with cinnamon if you wish.

Have it in the morning instead of your coffee, and over time you can slowly transition to having less and less caffeine.

Now to you, do you depend on caffeine like I do. Are you trying to quit? Do you suffer from any of the symptoms I mentioned above?  I'd love to hear your caffeine story so let me know in the comments section.

With love & simplicity,

Nyamka

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The Best Dairy Free & Sugar Free Hot Chocolate

by Nyamka Bayanmunkh in


Image Hot chocolate is great for cold blustery autumn days or basically any other time in Melbourne. The weather of Melbourne is famously blustery, doesn't matter if it's spring, summer, autumn or winter. I have been upping my intake of hot and warming foods due to a early winter we have been experiencing here.

I have been experimenting with different recipes for hot chocolate to make it more nutritious and I landed on a fantastic recipe by David Wolfe. It's so delicious I have made it twice in the last few days. The original recipe is dairy free only, but I swapped the raw honey with some stevia as I can't handle that much sugar for now. If you are healthy and well use raw honey it has great nutritional benefits.

This recipe for  has some unusual ingredients like nettle tea, lucuma powder, coconut oil, maca powder, and sea salt but they all serve a purpose. The nettles are a good source of silica, which is considered great nutrients for hair and skin. Experts say if nettles didn't protect themselves with their sharp stinging needles that release a painful combination of chemicals, it would have been extinct due to it's desirable combination of nutrients. As nettles are dried, cooked, or steeped they lose their stinging qualities, which is handy for making nettle tea. Nettle tea has a mellow and slightly spinachy taste.

Lucuma powder is made by grinding down the lucuma fruit's root. It is native fruit to South America. It has caramel-y and slightly citrus like flavour. If you put a tablespoon of lucuma powder in smoothies it makes the smoothie really frothy and caramel-y. Plus it is low in sugar and an excellent source of carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals. It has lots of beta-carotene, niacin (B3) and iron.

Coconut oil has a host of great health benefits.  It has antiviral and antifungal properties, plus it's great tasting.

Maca powder is considered to be adaptogen due to it's normalising effect on the endocrine system, which is great for me as my endocrine system needs all the help it needs after it has been disrupted by contraceptive pills.  Use only a teaspoon of it at a time, it has very strong bitter taste. Maca tastes good with chocolate too!

Salt and chocolate taste good together,even Heston Bluementhal agrees. Sea salt and other unprocessed salts like Pink Himalayan salt are quite different compared to the processed salts. Salts found in processed food are to be avoided as they offer no benefits, only harm. A bit of natural salt here and  there offers a bevy of health benefits. For example lets compare table salt and Pink Himalayan salt. Table salt  is chemically cleaned and stripped of its minerals, leaving just sodium chloride (NaCl), which is hard for our bodies to break down and leaves us with excess fluid in our body tissue. This happens because the cells in our body need to achieve the right level of saltiness and if there is too much salt, the cells  draws in more fluid to achieve right balance. Pink Himalayan Salt, on the other hand, contains 84 essential minerals, alkalizes the pH of your cells and balances electrolytes.

I also added cinnamon because cinnamon has a subtle sweet and spicy flavour that goes with chocolate.  Cinnamon isn't just tasty either, it also stabilises your blood sugar. With all these nutritionally dense foods this hot chocolate is not only a comfort food but a nutritious and health giving food . So without further ado, here is the recipe.

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The Best Dairy Free & Sugar Free Hot Chocolate ( Serves 2 )

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of nettle tea
  • 2 tbs of cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp of lucuma powder
  • 2 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1 tsp of maca powder
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • pinch of salt (unprocessed sea salt, lake salt, or himalayan sea salt is recommended)
  • Raw Honey or Stevia to your liking
  • 1 vanilla pod , scrape out the seeds.  or 1/4 tsp of vanilla powder

Directions:

Brew a tea from nettle, using either loose herbs or tea bags. You can brew it over night or just for 5 minutes. I brew mine over night in my thermos, it keeps the heat all night.

Strain the herbs, and use two cups of the tea to blend with the remaining ingredients. It should be relatively thick and luscious, thanks to do the chia seeds and coconut oil. Top with coconut flakes or enjoy on it's own.

With love, and simplicity

Nyamka