Coffee… A topic that a lot of you would perhaps rather not learn about with the looming fear that you may have to give it up. Well yes, there are some not so great effects that coffee can have on our health, but there are also some notable health benefits that one can reap from consuming coffee in appropriate amounts. Let’s start with the good…
The bitter, warming and often comforting brew is commonly used as a wake-up call and perceived by many as the best way to start the day. Well actually, a lot of people claim that their day only really begins once their first coffee has been downed! The caffeine content of coffee is responsible for this sense of alertness you will feel following your morning (or afternoon) pick-me-up. Caffeine is believed to help create focus, maintain concentration and boost overall brain function.
Coffee is also a rich source of antioxidants in the diet, which help to maintain healthy cells throughout the body by minimising damage caused by free radicals. Caffeinated and decaffeinated versions of coffee provide nearly the same levels of antioxidants, so opting for decaf may be a good option if you are looking for an antioxidant-rich hot drink without the extras.
For all its beneficial properties, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that there are also some unfavourable effects of coffee on our health. While caffeine for some of you may be considered your absolute saviour to get through the day, it may actually be the very reason your days are feeling long and sometimes include bouts of stress.
When you consume caffeine, your adrenal glands are stimulated to release the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. This not only causes your blood sugar to rise, but also your blood pressure and pulse rate to elevate as your body is in a state of perceived stress/danger. Once triggered into this state, you have very little chance of being calm, centred and focused on what you are doing. So while the caffeine can create that alertness, it may not quite be the buzz you are after during a work day.
Another not-so-great quality about coffee is that its rich content of caffeine needs to be processed by the liver using the same detox pathways that some toxins in the body go through. This may mean that mercury and other toxins are queuing up in the same line as caffeine to be processed. If the queue here becomes too long, some harmful substances will be released back into the bloodstream rather than being detoxified out of the body, with a flow-on of potentially negative effects on health.
Coffee is also an acid-forming food that can promote an acidic environment in your body. The more acidic your body is, the more likely you are to be burdened with illness as bad bacteria tends to thrive in this setting. We are always striving for an alkaline body to stave off symptoms of becoming sick, so avoiding acidic foods in the diet is key to great health!
Some Tips For Coffee Drinkers…
If coffee is an absolute must as the first thing you consume in your day, do your best not to drink it on an empty stomach. This puts unnecessary stress on your adrenals, which is never a great thing let alone first thing in the morning! It’s sure to set you up for a high-stress day. This may cause the flow-on effect of mucking up your blood sugar levels and enticing you into sweet cravings by afternoon.
It is also important to consider what you’re adding to your coffee and how this may make it more or less nourishing for you. Firstly, and as always, adding sugar is a big NO from us! If you do like your coffee a little sweeter, explore some natural sweeteners like stevia or coconut sugar. If you are a white coffee drinker, it is also important to consider your milk of choice. Casein, the protein found in dairy milk, has been found to bind to one of the strongest antioxidants in coffee, taking away from some of the awesome benefits this antioxidant can have in the body. Therefore, considering alternative options like nut milk or organic soy milk is recommended.
Switch on and listen to your body when you are drinking coffee. How do you feel after a cup of coffee? For some people there might be a looming feeling of anxiety, for others they’ll be powering their way through their ‘To Do list’, and for some there won’t be any obvious change in their state of mind. Only you will know if you are having too much!
Some of you may need to reconsider how many coffees you are consuming daily, while others may need to avoid it entirely. There are plenty of coffee alternatives out there that will provide a similar alertness while providing further health benefits.
Our fave? Matcha! You can read all about that here.
What are your thoughts about coffee? Have you ever tried to give it up?
Let us know in the comments below and we’d love it if you shared this article with anyone you know who may need it…xo
*Images from Instagram accounts @matcha_mylkbar @blackandgoldeatery x