To drink coffee or not to drink coffee.. That is the question.

You've probably heard at some point in time that coffee is bad for you. Maybe you're a coffee addict and you can't to kick the habit and frankly you don't want to. As a big coffee lover, I wanted to discuss the pro's and con's of coffee and caffeine. The story and research isn't quite as one-sided as you might think.

When we consider nutrition and our diets, we must look look at them from a very bio-individual perspective. This means that what may work for my diet, may not work for you. This cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to coffee and caffeine consumption. Some people can consume several cups of coffee per day to maintain alertness and concentration, while still sleeping soundly through the night and maintain regular health. Others are sensitive to caffeine and the resulting alertness is discomforting. Some face digestive discomfort from the introduction of coffee to the diet. Even for those who enjoy coffee and do not notice any immediate negative effects, many experience adrenal fatigue. 

So where do you fall? Here's a quick breakdown of some of the health benefits and consequences of coffee to consider.
 

Health benefits of coffee

  1. Alertness - Even low doses of caffeine have been shown to boost mental performance
  2. Mood - Many people report improved sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability following small doses of caffeine (250 mg).
  3. Concentration - Studies suggest that caffeine can help you perform a variety of tasks at a faster rate.
  4. Performance - There is a lot of research currently being conducted surrounding the use of caffeine by athletes to increase performance and prolong the effects of fatigue. Caffeine decreases the use of glycogen stores during a workout up to 50%, allowing for longer durations of exercise. 
  5. Diabetes prevention - Coffee contains minerals and antioxidants that help prevent diabetes by stimulating muscles to burn fat and sugar more efficiently. 
  6. Antioxidants - The antioxidants in caffeine help to stabilize free radicals and stop them from doing damage. These phytonutrients can reduce tumor cells. 
  7. Disease Prevention - Caffeine keeps dopamine molecules active, preventing diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s according to researchers at Harvard. 


Health concerns of coffee

  1. Cardiovascular problems - Just four cups of caffeine can raise blood pressure for several hours, which is a factor correlated to cardiovascular disease. Making the heart work harder and pump faster can lead to “burn out.”
  2. Stress - Typically we consume coffee and caffeine at the beginning of the day, which causes stress hormones to be released to get the body moving at full speed. By decreasing or removing caffeine, we can lower the stress hormones in the body
  3. Emotional distress - When more than 2 grams of caffeine is introduced in the body, the heart is stimulated and blood vessels dilate, leading to increased blood pressure and breathing. These reactions to the caffeine tend to cause irritability, restlessness, insomnia and agitation.
  4. Gastrointestinal problems - For some, coffee and caffeine can cause the stomach muscles to contract, leading to bowel movements. This can be troublesome for those with irritable bowel syndrome. 
  5. Nutritional deficiencies - Caffeine inhibits the absorption of some nutrients and can lead to the urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
  6. Reproductive concerns - Caffeine has varying effects of the reproductive system of both sexes. In men, urinary and prostate problems can be reduced by eliminating caffeine and coffee from the diet. In women, breast disease, PMS, osteoporosis, infertility problems, miscarriage and menopause are exacerbated by caffeine.
  7. Adrenal fatigue - Caffeine is a stimulant that binds to adenosine receptors in the brain. This leads to a range of reactions, which causes an increase of stimulation of the adrenal glands. This can lead to vulnerability to a variety of health disorders related to inflammation and fatigue. Some of the most common symptoms include low blood sugar, heart palpitations, excessive mood responses after eating carbohydrates, dizziness and light-headedness upon standing. 

 

Ask yourself these questions to determine if consuming coffee is the right choice for you:

Do you currently drink coffee or some form of caffeine? 
How does your stomach feel after drinking coffee? Do you have any immediate digestive issues following your consumption? 
Are you drinking coffee out of habit or for energy?
Have you experimented with other energy sources in the morning? 
Are you drinking more than 3 cups of coffee per day?
Are you able to sleep soundly?
Do you experience any of the symptoms mentioned for adrenal fatigue? 

 

My biggest recommendation for coffee drinkers is to drink your coffee without added sugars first and foremost. Drinking your coffee black or with added fats (grassfed butter, coconut oil, MCT oils) is the best way to ensure that you are not unintentionally harming yourself. By adding fats to your coffee, you're not only adding some flavor, but also providing yourself with a morning dose of fat to fuel your brain. 

If you think you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue, send me a message at deidre@always-growing.com. We can discuss your concerns and conduct tests to determine a plan of action to make sure your inflammation and adrenals are under control. 

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