What is your drink of choice to make it through shift? Coffee? Energy drinks? Pop? (soda for the non Canadians 🙂 )
At the end of shift how many trips do you need to make from the car to the garbage/recycling and back to throw out all of the cups and cans?
A few weeks ago I explained why this need for caffeine is so strong where no amount of willpower will allow you to resist in my blog Caffeine: Why You Can’t Make It Through Shift Without It
But have you ever wondered what is in these drinks and what they are doing to your body?
Recently in my 911 Elite Performance Program we were chatting about it and they found the information so fascinating that I thought I would share it with you.
One thing to note is that I am a firm believer of adding in healthy lifestyle habits instead of taking out the bad. This instills good habits and I love watching how your body stops wanting and craving the unhealthy options as your body gets what it needs to function optimally.
Though since switching from working with high level executives to First Responders there is one thing that I do ask everyone who joins my 911 Elite Performance Program to cut out for a few weeks.
Why do I break my belief system for this one lesson?
Because the First Responders who come to me often have been under stress for long periods of time which has taxed their stress management system.
Your stress management system is in charge of 50 different hormone responses. Sleep, Wake, Energy, Moods, Brain Cognitive Thinking, Inflammation, Digestion, Libido and the list goes on…
When it’s been taxed a while these hormone responses become mixed up causing sleep issues, exhaustion, short fuse, brain fog, digestive issues and the list goes on…
My first goal with anyone who comes to me is to strengthen their stress management system and get them out of that exhausted state where they have no motivation and energy so they can start making progress as soon as possible. And if we don’t cut out the caffeinated drinks we are taking one step forward and two steps back and don’t make progress.
Here is why:
To start off with caffeine that is found in coffee, tea, soda pop and energy drinks gives you a quick energy burst which you may hear is great before a workout.
BUT this information is based off of someone who does not have a taxed stress management system.
Every time your body is in a stressed state – putting on your uniform, dealing with a crisis, spill your coffee…stress/energy hormones are released. The same hormones that are released when you drink coffee. And over time your brain tells your stress management system that it’s been releasing waaay too many stress hormones and it tells it to decrease it’s production.
This is why you are great in a crisis when it’s pumping stress/energy hormones, but after when you file your report you are exhausted.
And every time you give your body a caffeine hit in the form of coffee, energy drinks, soda pop and some teas you get that initial energy boost, and then your brain tells your body to decrease it’s production of stress/energy hormones even more.
The main reason
So the main reason I get everyone to stop drinking soda pop, coffee and energy drinks for at least the first two weeks is because taking soda pop and energy drinks out of their systems takes a huge stress burden off of their stress management system and tells your body to stop decreasing it’s stress/energy hormones allowing the strategies they are learning to support and strengthen their stress management system to work faster and more effectively.
While they are detoxing from the caffeine I teach them more about what is in these drinks and how they also tax their stress management system.
Here is some of what they learn.
Soda/Pop and Energy Drinks
I’m grouping these together as many of them contain similar chemical ingredients.
Also known as nutrasweet, Equal and Tri- Sweet is one of the most common chemical sweetener that replaces sugar in diet/no/low calorie drinks and exceeds sugar sweetness 200x.
In 2007 and 2008, scientists confirmed and reinforced aspartame’s varied cancer causing potential at a dose level close to the amount suggested for humans. Moreover, when exposure begins during fetal life, the chances of cancer are enhanced.
Aspartame has 92 side effects listed by the FDA and use by pregnant women and young children is discouraged. But it’s ok for everyone else?
This is found in cola’s vs other drinks. Two or more colas per day more than doubled the incidence of kidney disease in one study; non-colas didn’t have the association. While phosphoric acid doesn’t do much to improve our health, it’s exceptional for removing rust from iron and steel tools.
For proprietary reasons flavours do not need to be disclosed and we are to trust that they are following that countries food and drug rules and regs. And by following their rules and regs this means 1 soda/energy drink they can put just under the max dose allowed to be considered safe and without us knowing what’s in it unknowingly having 2 in a day may push us over the safe zone and into the known health risks which could be to organs, our nervous system, cause diseases and more.
Citric Acid –
citric acid found in most beverages is a chemical derivative, not from a food source. It is a preservative and provides a sour taste. Consumed on a regular basis can strip teeth enamel.
Diet colas are linked to kidney issues and there is a link between high consumption of sugar soda to pancreas issues which can lead to diabetes. (1-2 non diet soda’s or energy drinks per day can increase your risk of diabetes by 25%.0
The linings of the cans contain BPA which is a hormone/endocrine disruptor. (read more about them here ) but in a nutshell the 50 different hormones that our stress management system is in charge of get messed up from PBA’s from very small doses.
Caffeine, Guarana and Taurine–
These are some of the ingredients that give you that energy boost in energy drinks. They can cause increased heart rate, anxiety, upset stomach and dehydration – many drinks have 2 to 5 times more caffeine than a cup of coffee and because most energy drinks are under the label of dietary supplements instead they are not regulated the same by the food and drug rules and regs and there have not been enough studies done to show the long term effects of high doses of Taurine and Guarana.
Coffee & Tea
Coffee and tea have many great health benefits from their antioxidants. (Once your stress management system is strong enough to handle healthy doses of caffeine) But there are some things to note.
Coffee and tea are both heavily sprayed crops. More and more studies are showing the effects of these pesticides from gut/digestive issues, parkinsons, alzeimers, and again we get into neurodegenerative disorders and cancers.
According to CBCNews/Canada when they tested black and green teas including Canada’s most popular brands: Lipton, Red Rose, Tetley and Twinings. Full test results can be found here. Of the 10 brands tested, only Red Rose pekoe came back free of pesticides.
One of the chemicals found was Endosulfan. This chemical is one of the most toxic pesticides on the market today. They also found DDT. Eight of the 10 brands tested contained multiple chemicals, with one brand containing residues of 22 different pesticides.
Sticking with Organic is key for coffee and tea though another thing to pay attention to is
Plastic Tea Bags–
These are becoming more and more popular. They give the tea a visual appearance of being more high end and without realizing it is releasing plastic particles into your brewed tea.
Only after I started studying about the environmental stress triggers did I realize how plastic releases BPA’s when heated which as mentioned above is a hormone/endocrine disruptor and can cause a slew of issues.
And lastly I thought I should mention decaf coffee. You’d think this would be a better alternative to caffeine while you are strengthening your stress management system and still enjoy the rituals, flavour and tastes, but unfortunately it also has some things to consider.
I had never given any thought as to how the caffeine was stripped out of the bean. Apparently the chemicals used for this process are higher in toxins than the original pesticides causing decaf coffee to do more harm for you than regular.
Hopefully now it makes sense as to why I break my rule on how to build healthy habits this one time.
The stress that each of these beverages places on your body is a large load and can deter progress when trying to initially strengthen your stress management system when it has been taxed for long periods of time.
Yes, detoxing from them is no fun at all. But so worth it, which is why most who take out caffeine and stimulants in my 911 Elite Performance Program continue to keep them out or decrease the frequency drastically after this lesson.
If you are a first responder struggling with some or all of these stress symptoms – tired and wired, waking mid sleep, exhausted, have brain fog, short fuse, digestive issues, constant colds/flues/allergies, nagging injuries, anxiety, depression and other signs of burnout and want to create an action plan to reverse and prevent them, then book a 911 Elite Performance Assessment with me.
In the 911 Elite Performance Assessment we will talk about where you are at currently, where you want to go and together create an action plan that works for you. It may be through my program, although not everyone is a candidate. Regardless if you are or not, by the end of the call you will have an action plan that works for you.
The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.
About the author
Andi Clark is a mom, wife of a Police Officer and the founder of 911 Lifestyle.
Andi has a background in athletics including a 25+yr career as a personal trainer, nutrition and mindset coach to athletes and stressed out high end executives.
Being healthy and active was what she lived for. Until her body started waking absolutely exhausted, workouts become something to push through instead of enjoy. A short fuse crept in, motivation left and injuries seemed to be a part of life. All of this added up to the point that she had to stop all activity altogether.
Doctors, specialists and prescriptions were never able to fix the problem.
Once Andi realized she had a genetic stress condition that puts her body into an increased stress response state all the time (similar to what Police Officers and First Responders experience when they put on their uniform and have to mentally prepare for whatever may happen in their day) was she able to figure out what was happening and how to reverse it.
Through years of research and studying, Andi formulated a completely different way to thrive when your body is always functioning at higher than usual stress levels. One where it is possible to reverse and prevent an officer from getting to a point where they struggle to get through their days by taking a preventative approach instead of a reactive one. And one that reduces the negative effects of shift work on the body.
Through her husband’s career as an officer her focus has been on preventing burnout,
exhaustion and a tanked immune system that she knew can result from high levels of stress that are out of your control.
As she watched his co-workers struggle with everything from sleep, exhaustion and anger leading to divorce, PTSD and even suicide it became apparent how LIFE-SAVING the foundations she was laying down for her husband actually were, because not only was he tolerating the shiftwork lifestyle, he was thriving in it.
Andi created 911 Lifestyle once she realized the strategies her husband was using MUST become available to all Police Officers and First Responders so they can peak during crisis, recover quickly after, have energy left over for their families and become the Elite First Responders that they were born to be.