When I say the word caffeine, coffee probably immediately pops into your mind. There are a lot of people (maybe yourself included) that could not fathom an existence without coffee. Tea, cocoa, many soft drinks and energy drinks are also rich in caffeine. Your favorite candy bar, energy bar and some of the over-the-counter medications you take may also contain caffeine.
The common, everywhere status of caffeine begs the following question for those new to the Paleo diet. If you are trying to live a healthier lifestyle by going Paleo, is caffeine a problem? Is the wonderful kick provided by caffeine Paleo-positive or negative?
Well, actually, the answer is yes … and no.
Herbal tea is permitted on the Paleo diet, especially the miraculously healthy green tea. On the other hand, most Paleo practitioners and teachers denounce other caffeinated drinks like coffee. The caffeine level in coffee is extremely high. This can negatively affect your sleep cycle. Caffeine also charges up your nervous system, can cause headaches and is not a positive influence on your health.
For these reasons, and because caveman didn’t have access to this stimulant, most caffeinated foods and drinks are not allowed on the Stone Age diet. Loren Cordain wrote the 2002 book “The Paleo Diet”, and was influenced by gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin, Stanley Boyd Eaton and Melvin Konner. Those 3 conducted substantial research into the health benefits of a Paleolithic-like diet, and say coffee, and most other caffeine-rich drinks, are no-nos.
To further confuse the issue, if you ask 10 different Paleo-preachers, you will probably get several varying views on the subject of caffeine. Self-appointed Paleo “gurus” are popping up all the time. They swear by their version of the diet plan that mimics what your caveman ancestors ate and drank. The bottom line, though, is this:
Strictly, according to hardcore Paleo diet rules, caffeine is forbidden.
However, green tea has much less caffeine than coffee. It also offers amazing antioxidants and other health boosters, unlike coffee.
So if you are an “all or nothing” sort, caffeine is a definite Paleo no-no. That means coffee, cocoa, tea and any other caffeinated drink or food item is out. On the other hand, if you simply want to incorporate aspects of the Paleo nutrition approach as part of a healthy lifestyle, enjoy herbal tea. Either way, your body, sleep cycle and nerves are probably better off without coffee.