Is coffee healthy?

IMG_0061I recently quit drinking coffee. I’ve always loved the taste and smell of coffee, along with the energy boost it gave me in the morning. It was my favorite morning ritual. I got a lot of joy out of making and drinking a single pour cup of dark roast, organic coffee topped off with my homemade vanilla cashew creamer each day.

So why did I give it up if I love it so much? Here are some things I started to notice… I was wanting to take a nap every afternoon. I had problems getting up and out of bed in the morning. I would feel intestinal pain either right after I drank my daily cup, or sometimes later in the evening. My PMS symptoms and menstrual cramps were getting worse. I had bad breath after my morning cup. And most of all, I hated how addicted I was to having my morning cup of coffee. Until I had my “hit” of coffee I would be tired and have serious brain fog.

Did quitting coffee solve these issues? Surprisingly, yes, and pretty quickly at that.

When people ask my about drinking coffee / caffeine it’s complicated because 1) we all metabolise caffeine differently; and 2), there are a few health benefits to drinking coffee.

Let’s talk benefits of drinking coffee first, coffee & caffeine:

    • Has been shown to stimulate alertness and improve mental performance.
    • Can improve your sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability.
    • Allows athletes to exercise for longer duration without hitting exhaustion. Caffeine decreases the use of glycogen stores during workouts up to 50 percent – allowing for longer workouts.
    • Contains minerals and antioxidants which help prevent diabetes. It has been theorized that is may be because caffeine stimulates muscles to burn fat and sugar more efficiently.
    • Is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants in caffeine help to stabilize free radicals and stop them from doing damage.
    • Keeps dopamine molecules active, preventing diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
    • Can be therapeutic for people with asthma.

 

 

Ok, you knew this was coming, let’s list out some of the negative elements of coffee & caffeine:

 

  • Can raise blood pressure for many hour, which can result in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Consumption in the early morning affects the body until bedtime, amplifying stress levels throughout the day. Caffeine increases stress hormones and elevates one’s perception of stress.
  • Can cause increased contractions of stomach muscles – possibly causing abdominal pain, diarrhea, and increased bowel movements.
  • Inhibits the absorption of some nutrients and causes the urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and trace minerals.
  • Can create female health problems – Fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, osteoporosis, infertility problems, miscarriage, low birth weight and menopausal problems such as hot flashes are all exacerbated by caffeine consumption.
  • Speeds up the aging process in the body. Caffeine tolerance may decrease with age. Production of DHEA, melatonin and other vital hormones decline with age. Caffeine helps to speed up this process. Caffeine also dehydrates the body, contributes to aging of the skin and kidneys, inhibits DNA repair and slows the ability of the liver to detoxify foreign toxins.
  • Can affect adrenal fatigue. Caffeine is a stimulant which binds to adenosine receptors in the brain. This leads to a range of complex reactions which causes an increase of stimulation at the adrenal glands. This can increase vulnerability to a variety of health disorders related to inflammation and fatigue.

 

Ok, so what’s the verdict? Honestly it really depends on how your body handles caffeine – and all of our bodies are different. If you are a woman, you will want to proceed with caution when it comes to coffee. There is a growing body of thought that coffee affects women a lot more negatively than men – and a lot of the research that came up with those awesome benefits of coffee was studied with men. There is a great blog post explaining this on one of my favorite women’s health websites, floliving.

After reading this, are you considering giving up your daily cup? If so, I’ll be posting tomorrow about my strategies to quit drinking coffee. Until tomorrow!

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