The Whole View, Season 3 Ep 58: Cortisol, Caffeine, and Long Covid (Update to Ep 379)

On this special update episode of The Whole View, Stacy talks about why she quit caffeine and how it helped improve her health and reduce symptoms of Long Covid. We revisit part of Episode 379, “Let’s Talk About Coffee,” where Stacy and former co-host Dr. Sarah Ballantyne discuss the popular beverage and break down the research from that time. Sarah talks about the relationship between science and the media and walks us through the health benefits of coffee, as well as the caveats.

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To listen to a full replay of Episode 379 below and read all of the studies and references from that episode here!

Key Takeaways

Why an Update

  • We didn’t touch on cortisol and anxiety when talking about coffee in our original Episode 379 related to coffee. The clip from Episode 379 contains the other science originally discussed by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD.
  • Ultimately what drove Stacy to the change was the health tweaks she was making associated with the symptoms Long Hauler’s. She wanted to alleviate the stress on her immune system.
  • Caffeine elevates cortisol secretion [source]: Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or harmful in a fight-or-flight situation. It is a steroid hormone that regulates a wide range of vital processes throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response.
  • Stacy saw the best results in testing cortisol levels to rule out other concerns like adrenal issues, thyroid, etc.
  • A meta-analysis from 2022 [source] showed caffeine increases anxiety and can bring on panic attacks:
    • 51% of of patients experienced a panic attack following caffeine, but none (not a single patient) after placebo.
    • Six studies showed that when compared to a healthy controls, patients were more vulnerable for panic attacks following caffeine by 53.9%
    • One study showed an increase in anxiety in 92% of patience following caffeine

Next Steps

  • You may want to consider quitting caffiene  if you’re suffering from fatigue, insomnia, sleep issues, cravings, mood swings, or anxiety. Also try not giving in to crutches right away like decaf or lower-caffeine tea. Instead, Stacy’s suggestion is to take a nap if you have cravings! Ssleep is the only way to get over the slump to normalized energy on the other side.
  • After a few months, Stacy was able to reintroduce minute amounts of caffeine in decaf or tea 1-2x/week, always with food. While her singular goal was to simply quit coffee, she ended up drinking more water, getting better sleep, and eating more fruits & veggies.

Studies, References & Products


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Note: Stacy and her guests are not medical professionals. This podcast is for general educational purposes and NOT intended to diagnose, advise, or treat any physical or mental illness. We always recommend you consult a licensed service provider.

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