Coffee – Who can drink it and who should avoid it?
Coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world. It has commonly become a staple as a morning routine. Coffee shops on every corner. Its served at meetings, drank before workouts, served hot, cold, mild bold, you name it. Coffee is here to stay. But is it healthy?
On a regular basis, contradictory headlines are posted about coffee. One day coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it. The answer is dependent on each individual. From you state of health to your genetics, all play a factor in determining if coffee is right for you.
For some, coffee can give you a buzz. Wakes you up, eyes a little wider, thoughts a little clearer. For others, they can drink it and go for a nap. Then there are more extreme reactions where a simple cup of coffee with induce anxiety and keep you up all night. There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it.
NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. Decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but, it still contains some. Also, the darker the brew, the less caffeine it has.
Let’s look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.
Not all people metabolize caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolize caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.
About half of us are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel “wired” for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half is “fast” metabolizers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later. Our bodies have an amazing ability to adapt to long-term caffeine use. Many people who are new to drinking coffee feel the stimulation effects more than people who have coffee every day
This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much – because we’re all different!
Health Benefits of Coffee
Caffeine intake is not the only thing to consider when consuming coffee. It does have some healthy properties that can be beneficial for health and exercise performance.
- High in Antioxidants
- Coffee is one of the 5 highest foods in antioxidants
- Antioxidants fight toxicity and work towards slowing the aging process
- Protects against free radical damage
- Protects the Liver
- -Increased circulation from caffeine can help stimulate liver function.
- Lower risk of certain liver diseases
- Boosts Exercise Performance
- Consuming coffee before a workout can increase mental alertness, physical performance and endurance
- Coffee also improves post energy expenditure or “afterburn effect”
- Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Supports Cognitive Function
- Coffee increases blood flow to the brain which increases mental alertness and cognitive function. This may work as protection against memory impairment and lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf. Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee.
Risks of Consuming Coffee
Although there are numerous benefits to drinking coffee, there are also some negative side effects that should be considered.
- Caffeine Addiction
- Drinking coffee on a regular basis especially in high doses can lead to a dependency and addiction. This can have a harmful effect on the adrenal glands, alter blood glucose levels, trigger excess cortisol and insulin release and lead to weight gain and burnout. The exact opposite of the desired effects. The physiological symptoms to caffeine addiction include headaches, anxiety, irritability, trouble concentrating, fatigue, digestive issues and appetite changes.
- Anxiety and hormone disturbances.
- The caffeine in coffee can impact hormones, neurotransmitter function, nerve signaling, and muscle activity. This is especially true if you have existing health conditions such as anxiety, heart problems, thyroid disease or diabetes.
- Coffee and the effects of caffeine stimulant can stay in our systems for up to 12 hours. The stimulation effects are especially more apparent in individuals who metabolize caffeine at a slower rate. Coffee can affect your sleep cycle not only reducing the total amount of sleep you get but the quality as well.
To Brew or not to Brew. That is the question.
Now that we have discussed the risks and benefits of drinking coffee, you should have a better understanding of how it may affect your individual health. There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.
Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:
- People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)
- People who often feel anxious
- People who have trouble sleeping
- Thyroid issues
- High stress individuals
- People who are pregnant
- Children and teens
Alternatives to caffeinated coffee that will still offer antioxidant benefits are green tea, dandy blend, and mushroom tea. For a a tasty treat that can be made with both caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee, CLICK HERE for my recipe for Pumpkin Spiced Latte.
If you are otherwise healthy and do not experience ill effects form coffee, enjoy your cup of joe! AS with all things, I believe it is best to drink coffee mindfully. 1-2 cups a day, before 10am and without sugar is best to support health and avoid any disruptions with hormones or sleep.
Interested to learn more about how a Holistic Nutrition plan can help you? CLICK HERE to book a free consultation.