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Episode 9: Mom Fuel: Why Coffee Will Keep You Running on Empty

, , March 11, 2020

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Jacqueline Kincer  [0:01]

Welcome back to The Breastfeeding Talk podcast. I’m your host, Jacqueline Kincer. And before I even tell you who today’s guest is going to be, this is honestly the best interview I’ve done on this podcast so far. In fact, I even say it in the episode, but this might be an episode that you’re gonna listen to more than once. You might even find yourself sharing this with people who aren’t breastfeeding moms like yourself. And you may even want to take a few notes.


So I did make some great show notes for this episode. So make sure you check those out that way you have access to the bulk of the information, or at least a little outline and some links to guide you to all the right places.


Now, before I tell you who today’s guest is, and I know you’re itching to hear, I do have to say thank you, thank you so much to all of the listeners out there who have already left a review for the podcast on iTunes.


First of all, I love getting your feedback, because if you’re listening, I have no idea what you’re thinking of the podcast. So it’s always great to hear from you. And if you want to connect with me personally just message me on Instagram at Holistic Lactation. But I appreciate all the reviews so far left by you guys. They’re absolutely impactful and they do help the podcast get found.


So if you have not yet had the opportunity to leave a review, I would absolutely encourage you to do that so that other moms just like you can find the podcast a little more easily. And it’ll show up there for them on iTunes. And I wanted to give a shout-out to Haley. She left a wonderful review. I assume your name is Hayley 00.


She said “Jacqueline’s message is so important and every woman and our culture needs to hear this. We as women need to value ourselves and expect better health care for ourselves too! This is an empowering and encouraging podcast and I love Jacqueline’s, give it to you straight approach.” That is the perfect intro to this episode with Dr. Steven Cherniske.


Now, you might not have heard of him before, but he is an incredible doctor and biochemist with some amazing information that he’s going to share with you about your health. And it is definitely like I do, he’s got to give it to you straight away. And if you want more energy in your life, if you want better sleep. This is an episode that is vital to not just your breastfeeding journey, but your postpartum journey and your postpartum for the rest of your life. So without further ado, here is the episode.


Welcome to the podcast. I have Dr. Steven Cherniske on the podcast. He is a biochemist and former university instructor in clinical nutrition. He served on the faculty of the American College of Sports Medicine. He advised members of the US Olympic team and directed the nation’s first federally licensed clinical laboratory specializing in nutrition and Immunology. He’s also a best-selling author with more than a million copies in print.


And Stephen has a remarkable gift for communicating breakthrough science that inspires, entertains, and motivates. So I have to say that it is a huge pleasure to welcome you to the podcast. I recently wrapped up your book Caffeine Blues, and you’ve got a new book out there. So welcome to the podcast.


Steven Cherniske  [4:05]

Thanks, Jacqueline. I’m happy to be here.


Jacqueline Kincer  [4:06]

Yeah, absolutely. So I’d love for you to just kind of tell me a little bit about how you got started looking into these things and a little bit about the books that you’ve written?


Steven Cherniske  [4:18]

Well, I was in clinical practice for a little bit over a decade. And what was really striking to me was in regards to caffeine. What was striking was that people had no idea how much they were consuming. So this is back in the early days of the energy drink boom, and with a rockstar and monster and all those other terrible products.


And so people would come to me and there the main problem is fatigue, for example. And I would say well, let’s get a handle on how much caffeine you’re consuming. And they would have to think well I have three cups. I would say, Well, how big is your cup? And then they would show me an enormous mug! And I would say, No, that’s three cups of coffee right there. And then how many of those do you have?


So it became clear that someone needed to write a book about this addictive problem. And again, it’s not a book about zero caffeine. For some people, zero is really important. But for most people, it’s just getting a handle on how much you’re consuming. And are you consuming multiple hits of caffeine during the day? And of course, the biggest question I had to answer was, where am I going to get the energy? And of course, you know the answer to that?


Jacqueline Kincer  [5:47]

Yes, I do. And I just have to say that this book was one that I have known about for, I would say two years. And I just had a lot of resistance to it. But mostly because I really don’t consume any caffeine other than coffee. So I was like, Well, one cup a day, I’m probably fine. I haven’t drank soda for probably 20 years. I don’t do energy drinks, that kind of stuff.


But then something started creeping up in my own personal health were last year, I was really feeling low on energy. I just couldn’t get started in the mornings, I was feeling a bit depressed. And I was starting to have that second cup of coffee.


So I went to my naturopath and I said I’m a really healthy person, the normal doctor would look at me and go, Why are you here? You’re in great health. And I was like, but I know something isn’t quite right. And she said, Yeah, you’re probably right, let’s run some labs. So we did. We did like six pages of lab work, I did a saliva test all these things. Turns out my adrenals were really suffering very, very taxed. I had some other hormone imbalances, and even very low blood pressure.


So we started this whole regimen of supplements and things and doing a little gut healing, that was also an issue. And I definitely started to feel a lot better. And I didn’t feel like I needed that boost with more coffee or anything like that. But I got ahold of your book, as I’m going on this journey. I read it. And I went back to her and I said, You know, I’m pretty sure I should be giving up caffeine. And I’ve started going through this protocol to get off that’s described in your book. And she said, Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. I would suggest that too. And I’m like, Well, okay, but why didn’t you suggest that from the get-go, because, ultimately, I’m not saying caffeine caused all those problems, I think me being a busy mom and running the business, and all these things definitely led to that. But it definitely wasn’t helping me recover my health. And that was what my ultimate goal was.


So, I read your book too thinking not only about myself, but about the families that I work with, especially these breastfeeding mothers and their babies, and how it affects them. And you have so much to say, but I would absolutely love to start with you just even talking about maybe some of the differences between men and women, we could just start there, from a starting point how caffeine affects women much more so than it does men?


Steven Cherniske  [8:14]

Well, the first thing you have to remember is that caffeine is a drug. If caffeine was not being consumed by millions of people on a daily basis, and there was a drug company that wanted to market this drug, they’d have a hard time getting it through the FDA. And for the simple reason that it affects people differently.


And what you just mentioned is probably the most important difference which is between men and women. Caffeine like any other drug has to be detoxified by the liver, and that’s the job of the liver is to make sure that this molecule of this drug, is pulled apart into pieces that are harmless. And so delivered does that job. What’s interesting and important is that men have a larger liver than women about 30% larger.


So men have a larger liver. And so they detoxify caffeine generally faster and better than a woman does. At the same time. We learned in fact, two years after I wrote Caffeine Blues, we learned that there’s a genetic difference, that 50% of people tend to be slow metabolizers of caffeine.


So that means that if you have multiple exposures during the day, that coffee in the morning, the energy drink in the afternoon the tea at night, and multiple exposures will mean that you are going to accumulate caffeine and elevate stress hormones. And that’s going to have an effect on your sleep.


It’s going to have an effect on your mood and your energy because what we have to constantly remember is that caffeine doesn’t give you energy at all. It’s a stimulant. And stimulants have a temporary effect of improving alertness. And that kind of feels like energy. But it isn’t.


If you woke up in the morning and you said to your partner, hey, will you slap me in the face really hard? So I can move into the day. That’s the effect of caffeine. It’s like a slap in the face, it is not energy. And in fact, that point is so important.


I wrote another book called the metabolic Makeover, the subtitle of which it’s all about energy. And in the metabolic makeover, my wife who’s a double board-certified family practice doctor here in Olympian, I discussed the energy equation in great detail. And it’s not clinical, it’s not difficult to read. We have lots of cartoons, lots of illustrations, and things to make it readable. Because energy really is an issue for everyone.


And it’s certainly the most important issue for anybody that sees my wife as a patient. It’s the most important issue for the hundreds of people that I talk to on a weekly basis, as we manage our own practice.


And, caffeine is basically the exact opposite, because there’s always a crash. For some people the crash is serious. For some people, the crash is hardly noticeable. But there’s always a price that you pay for stimulating your nervous system over and over and over again.


And the price you pay is, as you know, the elevation of stress hormones, that cause anxiety, can stimulate again, can precipitate panic attacks, leads to depression, as well as increased risk for a number of disorders, including hypertension.


Jacqueline Kincer  [12:14]

I’m blown away because you just said so much in that. And I think this is going to be an episode where people are going to listen to it more than once and take some notes. And I’ll try to put as much as I can in the show notes as well. Because, one thing I wanted to touch on and where you were going, I don’t want to stop that train of thought. But you mentioned the liver. And the size difference between men and women. And the liver is this processor of hormones, but also many things that I will suggest for my patients in terms of if they’re struggling with low milk supply, most of those herbs are very beneficial for the liver. And so the last thing we want to be doing is taxing your liver as a breastfeeding mom even more.


And especially if you take medications of any kind, for the most part, that’s going to put an extra stress load on your liver, but even the birth process. Most moms are having some sort of medications in their birth, whether it’s just the bare minimum of an epidural, or it’s Pitocin, or you had a C section or other things and your body has to detoxify all of that. And it’s not like you had it one day and it’s gone the next. And so you talked a bit about a cumulative effect. The other thing that came to mind was not just mom’s liver, but baby’s liver.


So if a breastfeeding mom is consuming caffeine, they’re getting caffeine and breast milk. And I know no one really likes to hear this. But I’d love for you to talk about some of the impacts there in terms of a baby, a newborn, or even a little baby and their livers because obviously, they’re a lot smaller, you mentioned size difference was the factor there?


Steven Cherniske  [13:56]

Well, so talk to any mom and ask them what’s the most important thing for your health and they’re gonna say sleep. If because that’s when we all recharge, and the demands of a new mom, the demands are tremendous.


And so imagine if the baby can’t sleep, because of the caffeine and the breast milk, that’s going to have a catastrophic effect on the ability of that mom to do the daily things that she needs to do to care for herself and her baby.


So that’s critically important that we get that a baby, even a six-month-old, whose liver is still developing their livers should not be busy, detoxifying caffeine, their livers should be doing what the liver has to do, which is listen to these 60 different metabolic functions are all performed by the liver.


So when you talk about the drugs, they all have to be detoxified, and I don’t want to get off on that very much, but there was a time in my life when I was considering going into drug development. Most of my colleagues were doing that because that’s where the money was. Right?


One of the things that we learned was that if you’re developing a drug, no matter what it is, you have to develop the drug, with an aim to overwhelm the liver’s ability to detoxify that drug, in order to keep the concentration of that drug, at a threshold level in the bloodstream.


So here’s the mom, she’s been on some drugs, to deal with whatever it was that was going on during her pregnancy, her liver is already stressed. And now she’s using caffeine to get through the day. That is a downward spiral that can be serious.


Jacqueline Kincer  [16:06]

Yeah, that makes so much sense. And I had no idea what you just said about the development of pharmaceuticals. And like you already said, caffeine is a drug. That makes sense that it would need to be something that’s not easily detoxified by the liver for it to be, effective.


And, as you said, caffeine is a drug, there was also something that you pointed out in your book about how the level of caffeine the amount of milligrams isn’t disclosed like you can’t look on your coffee bean package or your soda or your chocolate bar and see how much is in there.


So it sounds to me like there’s an issue with we just don’t even know how much caffeine we’re really being exposed to, is that correct?


Steven Cherniske  [16:53]

Well, that is correct. Especially when you look at all the ways that caffeine sneaks into the food and beverage supply. Because it is addictive.


Everybody knows if you’re a marketer, everybody knows that, hey, if I can put some caffeine in here, and people are gonna get a little bit of a jolt from my product. Hey, I’m going to go ahead and do that. Number one, caffeine is dirt cheap. You can buy pure caffeine from China, for about $15. Listen to this $15 a kilo.


It’s all synthetic caffeine from China. And even if it’s natural caffeine”, it’s still the same molecule. And so the idea that unscrupulous manufacturers can add a drug to their product and not disclose the dose is insane. But that’s where we’re at. In this country.


So I always tell people because I’m shocked when I find a company that I thought was a great company making good products. And wouldn’t you know it, they’ve got an energy product. And maybe it says caffeine, maybe it doesn’t, maybe it says Guarana busy nut Cola, green tea extract, no matter what it is, there’s always a little bit or sometimes a lot of caffeine in the product, because they want to hook you into buying the product and depending on it.


Jacqueline Kincer  [18:24]

Wow! It’s like drug dealing.  I can’t even give the price quote in kilos. But yeah, I thought it was a healthy thing. Sometimes I’ll have a nice green juice or a healthy smoothie and go to a place one time and I got an açaí bowl. And it had Guarana in it. And I didn’t know that had caffeine in it. So I was unknowingly ingesting that. And thankfully, it’s not a regular thing for me.


So even these health products, using air quotes there can often have these drugs in them, which is just crazy. But, back to what you were saying, though, about anxiety and depression, you started to touch on that. And I think that’s a huge topic because there’s a fair number of people in my practice that I’ve seen that are affected by one or the other or both.


And especially sometimes it can just come on postpartum there’s automatically these huge hormonal changes and life changes and caffeine is playing a role in increasing that.  But I’d love to learn a little more about why that is.


Steven Cherniske  [19:35]

Well, it’s so insidious Jacqueline. Because it’s the go-to solution that you think automatically, Oh, I’ve got this brain fog. Or I’m tired or I’ve got to get through a busy day. I need some help reaching for that coffee. Is the first thing you think of and no one is out there with a very loud voice anyway.  No one’s out there saying, Hey, that’s not the solution, you’re gonna dig yourself into a deeper hole.


And so what we have to understand is caffeine is not an energy source, no one is tired because of a caffeine deficiency. And once we understand that, we start to look for other things, which, interestingly, can help with mood. I think it’s important for people to understand that DHEA, which is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in the brain. DHEA has a powerful effect on mood. And, it’s rare that you find a new mom with levels of DHEA that are optimal.


And so I think it’s important for anybody when you go to the doctor, and they’re gonna do some tests to see well, what’s going on, let’s look at your metabolic profile, you have to make sure that your doctor measures your DHEA sulfate because low DHEA is going to mean that you’re tired, low DHEA is going to affect your mood, it’s going to affect your immune system, it’s going to affect your ability to cope DHEA, my wife calls it the can do hormone. And if your DHEA levels are low, and oftentimes in a new mom, it’s in double digits.


When the optimal DHEA level in your blood for a woman is 250 to 350 micrograms per deciliter. So my wife, again, a double board-certified family medicine doctor, sees a lot of women who have this issue. And she’ll always measure their DHEA sulfate level. And she’ll show them, that you have the DHA level of a 60-year-old woman, and you’re only 29.


So, we have to fix that right away. And oftentimes, the effect is dramatic and rapid. And she’s got a very happy patient saying, Oh, my life is changed. Why? Because they dealt with the issue, rather than using that knee jerk, oh, I need more caffeine. If your DHEA level is low, there’s no way you’re going to function optimally.


Jacqueline Kincer  [22:29]

That is so insightful. And this is something so fascinating. And it’s, your contribution to this knowledge here has actually changed the way that I practice when I’m working with moms who, understandably, are going through some big changes and may feel lower on energy.


It was a question on my intake form about caffeine intake. But it wasn’t really a conversation that I would have during most of my appointments. And now, it’s a conversation, I’m having it every appointment.


And just even while that might not be something I can’t order lab work or any of that. But if a mom is telling me she’s experiencing certain symptoms as you’ve mentioned, I now feel confident where I could say, hey, you know, you might want to ask your provider about actually getting that DHEA sulfate level checked.


And here’s what the normal is because they kind of oftentimes need to end up going to their providers, unfortunately, and telling them what they need to be checked.


As you probably know, I’m sure you get patients who have seen other doctors and not gotten the help they’ve needed and they come to you. And like you said with your wife, they feel better because you’ve treated the root cause of what’s actually going on, which is very powerful.


Steven Cherniske  [23:46]

DHEA is the king of metabolic modifiers. And in our book, The Metabolic Makeover, we discuss and present 30 metabolic makeovers and 30 things that you can do to improve your energy level.


But DHEA obviously is number one, oftentimes, you find that women who were active before they got pregnant, then they went through their pregnancy, and now they’re trying to get back to the gym to work out because working out is something that was a part of their life that made them feel alive and energetic and vibrant. But they can’t do that.


And so rather than just feel bad about yourself and oh, I’m a bad person, I want to go work out but I just don’t have the energy. It’s not going to come from caffeine, it’s going to come from other metabolic modifiers that we discuss in the metabolic makeover. But DHEA, I’m going to say one more time. DHEA is the most important.



It improves exercise tolerance. It improves what we call resilience. The ability that we all have to deal with the stresses of daily life. When Scott Peck wrote the book the road less traveled, he was a neighbor of mine.


And he came over with the manuscript and wanted me to kind of take a look at it. And I opened the manuscript, and I said, Scott, wait, you can’t start a book with this statement. Life is difficult. And he smiled and put his hand on my shoulder and said, Why do you disagree?


So we know that life is difficult. So what do we do to deal with the stresses of life, what I call the vicissitudes of life, and how do you handle those things, for so many women exercise was a critically important part of their coping mechanism. And now they just don’t feel like the last thing I want to do is go back to the gym, check your DHEA sulfate level, get it into the optimum range, because, you can eat it, you don’t have to take an injection, you don’t have to use pellets, and you can just take an oral dose, and get your DHEA level back into the optimal range. And, you’ll see at the same time, cut down on the caffeine to the absolute minimum, or like in your case you found zero was a good number for you.


Jacqueline Kincer  [26:26]

Yeah, yeah, definitely. And, I see these memes all over the internet, especially on social media, and I’m very active over on Instagram and this hashtag mom life is on the coffee mug or mom juice or mom fuel. Like new mom plus coffee equals happiness. And it couldn’t be further from the truth, right?


Steven Cherniske  [26:51]

Sidious message it really is.


Jacqueline Kincer  [26:54]

It’s like the people that you go to Target and you see this cute coffee mug that you must have that is giant right? Probably like you said the equivalent of actually three cups of coffee and that you’re in no offense to moms out there. But you’re pushing your stroller with your coffee mug and you’re trying to take good care of yourself but that thing that’s in your hand that hot beverage that we’ve learned through marketing and all of that. Madison Avenue, brains over there who have decided that coffee is seen as this comfort, this connection. Coffee shops, the popularity of Starbucks, all these things have really sprung up and then not to mention bulletproof coffee. I’m sure you have a lot to say about that.


But, if we just add some special oil to our coffee, then it’s okay. It’s healthy for us. But it sounds like we’re leading to overconsuming these things. And, it’s almost seen as weird if you don’t drink it. I know when I want to meet up with someone, they’ll say, oh, let’s go to a coffee shop. And I’m like, cool, um, do they have like decaf tea or a smoothie or something else? And they’re like, You don’t drink coffee, and like no I used to I gave it up. They’re like, they look at me like I have two heads.


So there’s a lot of social pressure there as well. And I think it’s just become part of our culture, not just even in the US but all over the world. There are many rituals surrounding coffee as well.


Steven Cherniske  [28:25]

Well, that’s an important thing that you bring up we like the rituals associated with brewing coffee. We like to smell, we like the pattern that we get into and so you’re asking somebody to make a significant change. And the easiest way to make the change is to go to like green tea. Green tea does have some caffeine in it but a whole lot less than coffee.


Green tea also has theanine which has a buffering effect on the stimulant of caffeine. So green tea for a lot of people is a great step in the right direction. And black tea is also okay. Green tea has a little bit more antioxidant benefits than black tea but that’s a good step in the right direction is going from black coffee or coffee with whatever is going on for you but in going to a cup of green tea is really a good step in the right direction as well as another beverage and other hot warm beverage that you can create.


There are also herbal coffees on the market. The one I’m most familiar with is called Teechino T-e-e-c-h-I-n-o, Teechino. Which is sold in health food stores as an herbal coffee. You brew it the same way you would brew your coffee in the morning, but it has zero caffeine and it has a robust flavor and it’s something which I would highly recommend.


Jacqueline Kincer  [29:53]

Yeah, that’s great. I actually have tried that myself and really enjoyed the flavor Have it and one of the things I’ll tell our listeners since you’re listening to this, you’re a breastfeeding mom is the ingredients and Teechino are actually really great for you.


Not just your liver, but just supporting lactation, often they have a dandelion leaf and barley. And those things are very well known for increasing milk supply. So for the moms out there who might be drinking, the disgustingly tasting mother’s milk tea, and you’re listening to this episode. And if you were making your coffee, while you’re listening to this, I’m sorry, but I suspect a few moms are like, Oh man, I better put that down right now.


But, you know, for the moms out there who are also listening, and they’re going, I can’t give up my coffee, or oh, this sounds hard, or I’ve tried in the past. But if they’re like me, I’ve tried many times over the years. And I have given it up during both pregnancies, and just at various other times in my life.


And I guess I didn’t know about your off-the-beam protocol that you so thoroughly described in your book. But I must have weaned off too fast because I would get those withdrawal headaches. And I would feel just like I couldn’t get going in the morning.


And just the whole day I was in a whole fog. And I felt just awful, which is just another testament to the fact that this is a drug and my body was literally going through drug withdrawal.


So not only do we not suggest that moms just go cold turkey and stop drinking coffee. Because not only will you go through withdrawal, but your baby who’s drinking your breast milk would also experience withdrawal and a baby with a headache is not going to be a very happy baby.


So I’m sure you’ve got so much information, you’re off the beam program. But for the moms out there who are listening going, you know, there are some valid points here, I can see what they’re saying it does sound like I’m maybe having too much. You suggested green tea as a great place to start. But in terms of those side effects, I think that is actually what scares a lot of people off. I know it scared me off from quitting coffee.


Steven Cherniske  [32:03]

Well, yeah! It’s the headache that results from not drinking coffee, results from all those blood vessels in your brain. Basically dilating. So caffeine has the effect of reducing the blood supply to your brain.


Jacqueline Kincer  [32:25]

So Mom’s Brain might be caffeine brain is what you’re saying?


Steven Cherniske  [32:29]

Exactly! What I want to say one more time, is that some of your listeners will talk to their friends and neighbors who have no problem drinking coffee at all. And so it could very well be that they are in the 50% of people who are rapid metabolizers. Whereas someone who drinks a cup or two of coffee a day and it has adverse side effects is probably a slow metabolizer.


And,  this is genetic, and you’re not going to change it. It’s just the ways the genes that you inherited from your mom and your dad and the glitches that happened along the way. But half of the population is fairly good at metabolizing, or detoxifying caffeine, and the other half of the population is our slow metabolizers, which means that even a modest amount of caffeine can have deleterious effects on your health.,


Jacqueline Kincer  [33:22]

Wow! I’m just blown away. And in speaking of those deleterious effects on your health, you had mentioned a connection in your book, a lot of research, they’re tying, that there was a connection that can be made in terms of the effects of the stress hormones and things like breast cancer and fibrocystic breast disease.


And I started to think of my aunt who I remember visiting. This is years ago, I was probably a teenager, and she had five kids, and she just ran around the house to clean everything. And it was just spic and span, and she was just full of energy all the time.


And she would brew a whole pot of coffee, right? No one else in the household drinks it. And she would drink it throughout the entire day. I remember was 4 pm. And she put on another pot of coffee and offered me some and I was like I got to sleep tonight.


I’m not going to have coffee and I knew then that wasn’t something to be having that afternoon and I kind of looked up to her and she might have been, you know when those people have that gene mutation, but it ended up being that years later, she actually ended up with breast cancer and I’m not saying that because she drinks two pots of coffee a day she got breast cancer but it certainly didn’t help. I’d love to hear more about maybe just a list of those other health consequences that can happen with this overconsumption of caffeine.




Steven Cherniske  [34:44]

Well, the stress hormones, and when we say that we’re thinking mostly of cortisol, but there’s, epinephrine and norepinephrine, and the stress hormones that result from any stimulant, whether it’s caffeine or corn or another drug stimulate the elevation of stress hormones, puts a stress on the body which not only is a problem for insomnia.


And of course, the insomnia cycle is one that we’re finally realizing is very serious. In other words, if you’re not sleeping well, there are a lot of things that are going to go wrong in your life. Deep Sleep is when the immune system does its best work. So someone who does not sleep well is automatically increasing the risk for all kinds of problems, including cancer.


And so you’ve got to understand that stress and one’s ability to manage stress are key features in overall health and longevity. I was in graduate school when I went to have a husband and wife team come to talk to us about this, the stress effect on immunity. And they told us about his studies that were done with college students, and how they were ranking college students, according to how they were dealing with the stress of graduate school.


And as it turns out, the students that were kind of go with the flow, easygoing, they were doing okay. They had three times the number of natural killer cells in their bloodstream, compared to the students who were buckling under the strain.


Now, that was serious, because the particular immune cells that were affected, were the primary anti-viral, anti-cancer, immune cells called NK cells or natural killer cells. So the ongoing stress at the end, and these are graduate students, we’re not talking about people in their 50s and 60s, these graduate students were setting themselves up for disastrous health challenges, simply because they were not able to manage the stress doesn’t mean that everyone should go out and take value.


It means that we need to understand that: A. caffeine is a stress, it’s not the answer to stress  B. There are ways that you can deal with stress that are proactive, whether it’s meditation, biofeedback, or a moms group, because life is difficult, as Scott reminds us because life is difficult, we all need stress management techniques.


And I use self-hypnosis.  I’ve been meditating for 40 years. This is how I manage stress. And I don’t drink a lot of coffee, maybe a cup in the morning. But to use caffeine to deal with stress is like shooting yourself in the foot thinking you’re gonna make it through the day.


Jacqueline Kincer  [38:03]

Yes. You summed that up so well. And I absolutely take a holistic approach. In fact, my company, it’s in the name, but you’re really just hitting the nail on the head in terms of this whole-body connection. And it’s not this isolation thing.


So while we are talking about caffeine, we’re talking about, really, it’s the effects of stress, and that that is adding to the stress. And you’ve just said that so eloquently.


And if you listeners cannot tell, I have not met him before doing this interview, we chatted just briefly right before this, but just hearing your voice, you definitely sound like a happy, light-hearted kind of guy. And that is obviously something natural. I don’t hear you amped up and all of that.


And also, I have to say, it is a little refreshing to hear that you might have a cup of coffee in the morning. But you’re not taking this hard line and saying no one can ever have coffee again. Because I think that that sounds impossible and hard to do for a lot of people.


Steven Cherniske  [39:08]

Well, yeah! It’s not an all-or-nothing kind of proposition. It is 1.  Learning how much caffeine you are consuming,  looking at your beverage and food choices, and scratching your head and saying, Okay, I had no idea that I was because of a six-ounce cup of coffee which is a teacup, right?


That amount of coffee contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine. Well, who drinks a drink six ounces of coffee? The average Starbucks consumer drinks 20 ounces of coffee. And so that’s right there 300 milligrams of caffeine. So for a small woman, she’s not going to sleep well. And she’ll be lying in bed thinking Why can’t I get to sleep?  It won’t occur to her that it was because of that cup of coffee she had at nine o’clock that morning, but that’s entirely possible that it is contributing to her insomnia.


Jacqueline Kincer  [40:08]

Wow! That is just so powerful and I do want to say for the listeners out there, honestly, I mean his book caffeine blues, if you can get your hands on it, that’s a phenomenal place to start as well as the newly released metabolic makeover. If you’re just someone who is like, You know what, I’m looking to have some more energy in my life, I want to feel good. Maybe even if you have had panic attacks, you suffer from anxiety and depression, these are really things that it’s worth the reading, it’s worth taking the time.


And I’ve got to say just for the caffeine blues book, he really gives that example, you just gave a normal six-ounce cup is like a teacup. And any breastfeeding mom out there probably knows what six ounces looks like when you’re filling up a bottle or something like that. So we know it’s a small amount.


But he gives us great details, like charts on how much caffeine is in each different type of thing, and even a list of medications and things like that, that caffeine is found in and a way to get off of it, where you’re not going to experience those terrible withdrawal symptoms. So I urge you really, really urge you to just do the hard thing and just present this information to yourself and read these books because this stuff can absolutely be life-changing. And it sounds like you and your wife have seen just amazing results with the patients you’ve worked with, and working on these issues with stress hormones and all of that.


Steven Cherniske  [41:33]

Yeah, and thank you, Jacqueline, for that. And if people want more resources other than the caffeine blues in the metabolic makeover, they can go to www.thehealthy It’s called the healthy skeptics dot com.


And they can read more information there about energy and about health. In general, we have another website called Which also provides a good amount of information. We have produced over 250 videos, which are accessible on those websites. So please do explore the websites. Each website has a Contact Us. So if you’ve got a specific question, we’re happy to answer those questions.


And I really appreciate Jacqueline, you’re bringing this to the public and to a group that is so much in need of this information. Because we love it. We love moms!


Jacqueline Kincer  [42:36]

Yeah, thank you so much. And you really answered the question I always ask, which is how can people find you online. And so we’ve got that answered.


And I just love to hear if there are any final thoughts or pieces of advice that you might give to the listeners, just one thing that you would encourage them or really want them to take away from the information you’ve shared with us today?


Steven Cherniske  [42:57]

Well, you know, the holistic approach to this issue and all issues has to do with understanding that it’s all connected. So sleep is critically important. And I’m going to say that one more time, we tend to think because we’re all so busy. And because we have 500 channels on our television. So there’s so much to do and so much to see, it’s easy to forget about sleep, we think that we can push the envelope that we think that we can maybe push a little bit more, get a little bit more done, watch one more show. And really sleep is critically important. And so I want to emphasize that.


The second thing I want to emphasize is measuring your DHEA sulfate at your annual physical, you don’t ask your doctor to measure your DHEA sulfate, you tell your doctor to include that on your blood chemistry, they cannot refuse to give you that information into your body. And you have the right to that information. And they have no legal right to withhold it. So you tell your doctor to put down the blood chemistry. I want to know my DHEA sulfate level. And maybe your insurance company will pay for it, fine. It’s probably 40 bucks. But it’s information that you must have in order to move forward in life with the best possible advantage in terms of your strength, your stamina, your endurance, your mood, and your risk for a whole raft of disorders.


Jacqueline Kincer  [44:38]

Wow! That is so powerful. And I just love how you’re all about just patient empowerment because I’m very much the same way. And that’s a wonderful takeaway.


I just have to thank you so so much for taking the time to do this interview today. Again, I think this is going to be an episode where people might listen to this more than once. I’m sure you’ll find yourself as a listener wanting to share this with friends who you know, breastfeeding or not could use this information. This is incredibly, incredibly powerful.  So thank you again for being here today.


Steven Cherniske  [45:10]

My pleasure.


Jacqueline Kincer  [45:12]

Wow! I just have to say, Wow, that was seriously a mind-blowing episode, I even learned so much and just reinforce the fact that not just reading these books, but just taking care of ourselves from that holistic perspective. And knowing that nothing happens in a vacuum.


Caffeine doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Breastfeeding doesn’t happen in a vacuum, stress doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  And this is just one more piece of the puzzle to create wellness for yourself and your baby, which is one of the things that I really set out as part of my mission of doing this podcast.


So I’ve got a great summary going for you in the show notes for the podcasts. So definitely check that out.  I’ve linked up his websites and Facebook, so you can connect with Dr. Czherniske there. And as he said, feel free to contact him through his website.


I know this is someone that I’ll be staying in touch with for a very long time. And if you haven’t done so already, leave a review for the podcast on iTunes. It’s a great way to help other moms just like you find the information they need to support them on their breastfeeding journeys.


And if you found this podcast helpful, I know that other moms will too. So share it with friends, and make sure you’re subscribed so you get access to new episodes that come out every Wednesday. Thank you so much for being a dedicated listener, and I’ll see you on the next episode.

In this eye-opening interview, I talk to Dr. Stephen Cherniske about the dangers or stress and caffeine, especially when it comes to the childbearing years of your life. The effects on hormones, energy levels, and your baby are not to be ignored. If you’re like most people, you rely on coffee or caffeine to power you through your day. Listen as we find out why it doesn’t do that and ultimately leaves you more depleted in the long run.

If you enjoy this episode and it inspired you in some way, I’d love to hear about it and know your biggest takeaway. Take a screenshot of you listening on your device, post it to your Instagram Stories and tag me @holisticlactation

I’ve got a special gift for all my listeners and it’s 38 powerful breastfeeding affirmations to support you on your breastfeeding journey, so go get that free audio now at

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • How caffeine affects your hormones, and potentially your milk supply
  • The effects caffeine has on your baby and sleep
  • Why caffeine doesn’t give you energy
  • How to have to more energy in your daily life, especially after having a new baby