I have always been a coffee person. I want a cup as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning, even though I have had to go straight decaf for health reasons. Not one of the easiest things I’ve ever done because caffeine is highly addictive. It was a long, slow process, made easier by using the refillable Keurig pods so I could mix a custom blend of regular and decaf and slowly decrease the regular coffee. We switched to a Keurig specifically because I have to drink decaf but my husband does not. We always use the Keurig refillable pods (affiliate link) rather than buying the disposable coffee pods, however. We always try to be mindful of the impact we are having on our world.
I normally avoid flavored coffees and creamers and all the various coffee drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos. Many are not gluten or dairy free and some have quite a bit of sugar in them. Many people with celiac disease, myself included, have low or high blood sugar problems and a higher risk of Type I diabetes, so I would rather not push my luck. That is not to say I don’t like them, however.
A few years back, my Mom introduced me to Golden Milk. The recipe she used was cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and a little honey in warm almond milk. It was tasty and a nice warm drink for evenings, but I have found that if I have too much sugar of any kind, including honey, I don’t sleep as well as I do when I avoid sweeteners, or alcohol, in the evening. From what I have read, blood sugar spikes up and down are what disrupt your sleep and having a honey sweetened beverage in the late evening didn’t seem to be agreeing with me. The exception is maple syrup. It does not seem to bother me. I have tried artificial sweeteners like stevia, but I always get such a bitter aftertaste that it spoils the moment. I am not a fan of artificial sweeteners in general and avoid them for the most part.
According to WebMD (and a variety of other sources), cinnamon, turmeric and ginger have shown some promise for a variety of medical uses, though in most cases there has not been enough research for it to be definitive. All three appear to have anti-inflammatory properties for arthritis or the digestive system and those are two of my primary sources of discomfort. When I ingest gluten or dairy, I get an inflammation response all through my body, not just in my intestines. My joints hurt, my abdomen hurts and I feel just all over miserable for several days. For that reason, I decided to try the Golden Milk recipe with my coffee in the morning, to get my day off to a good start.
I am not promoting this as medical advice in any way, shape or form. Every person is different and what works for one may not work for another. You also have to consider any medications you might be taking or other problems you might have in case these three spices could interfere in other medical treatments. I don’t happen to take any medications or use any other meds or supplements that might cross with those three spices. Proceed at your own risk and discuss it with your doctor if you have any doubts.
Another thing to consider is the source of the spices. Ginger and turmeric are both roots, dried and ground to powder. Cinnamon is from the dried and ground inner bark of a tree. Plants are very efficient at pulling contaminants from soil and into their tissues. There is a whole field of science devoted to the study of using plants to clean up contaminants in the environment. It is called phytoremediation and is pretty fascinating, but the point here is that you need to know that the spices you are buying are sourced from a clean and reliable farm, preferably organic. Many of the spices we buy come from other countries, so it is important to find a trustworthy source. I like to buy from Mountain Rose Herbs, but I am sure there are other sources out there. If you have a favorite, please share in the comments below. There are only a few store brands I buy, in large part because it is hard to know if they are gluten free. McCormick single ingredient spices are supposed to be gluten free, even though not labeled, and so far I have not had any noticeable problem with them. I only use the single ingredient spices, not any of the spice mixes.
There are also some issues with the digestion of turmeric. WebMD and National Institutes of health recommend mixing it with black pepper. Apparently the piperine in black pepper increases bioavailability of the curcumin in turmeric by as much as 2,000% (1). The European Food Safety Authority and the Joint UN and WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives recommends an Allowable Daily Intake (ADI) of curcumin of up to 3 mg/kg of body weight. If 1 kg=2.2 lbs and a person weighs, say 200 lbs, then they would weigh approximately 91 kg. That means the daily recommended safe dose would be 3 mg x 91 kg or 273 mg of curcumin daily. Studies have shown that pure turmeric powder is only about 3% curcumin at the highest and that it varies (2). A teaspoon of turmeric is approximately 3 grams (on my kitchen scale and with my old teaspoon measure, so this will definitely vary) which converts to 3,000 mg. Multiply that by 3% and you have very roughly 90 mg of curcumin per teaspoon of turmeric, so the half teaspoon of turmeric in this recipe is well within recommended safe limits. Many trials with healthy subjects have shown turmeric to be safe. However, some negative effects such as diarrhea, headache rash and yellow stool were noted with doses of 500-12,000 mg or higher.
I tried a little butter in my coffee and it was good, but that had to stop when I finally gave up dairy due to intestinal problems and severe pain in the joints of my thumbs. I tried ghee, even making my own so I could be sure it was well filtered, because some people who are dairy sensitive can eat ghee because most of the milk proteins have been removed. However, they were not filtered enough for my digestive tract, so I had to give up the ghee. I tried “plant butter” and liked the flavor, but most of the commercial brands have some things in them, like palm oil, that I would rather avoid so I use it sparingly. I have a recipe to try making my own, but just haven’t gotten round to it yet. You might want to try plant butter or real butter, if you tolerate it, because I did like the flavor.
So after some trial and error, I have settled on a routine of cinnamon, turmeric paste with a little pepper added, and ginger, with a little coconut sugar and almond milk, in my first cup of coffee in the morning. My second cup is just coffee and milk, but that is enough to keep me going until about 10 am before I am ready for breakfast. I don’t always eat that late, but if I happen to be busy with something, I like that I don’t feel the effects of hunger until mid morning and have a good bit of energy all morning. The recipe I use is below as is a list of sources. If you try, please let me know in the comments.
We always grind our coffee and keep it as fresh as possible. We use this Capresso grinder and really love it (affiliate link). We also use only the refillable pods (affiliate link) and never buy the disposable ones.
Hi there! I am Jeannine.
I believe that a holistic and balanced approach to life is a must when living with an autoimmune disease. I share gluten and dairy free recipes and all the other things I do here. I just like doing stuff and making stuff.
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