Should You Drink Coffee or Not?
The question we often ask ourselves, is “should I drink Coffee or not? The advice we read or the newest study leaves us feeling more confused then enlightened.
Coffee is one of those things, you either love it or hate it.
Maybe you like the smell, but not the taste. Could it be you drink coffee as an excuse to add some sweets, (it’s just a reason to drink sugar and cream). Some people experience an upset stomach when they drink coffee. could this be your or perhaps it makes your stomach feel acidic or heavy and funny.
It’s common for people to say that they can’t get through their day with several “cups of Joe” In other words, do you find that without it you struggle to focus and think straight, maybe even struggle to get through your day? Iv’e heard it said that coffee is almost their first love and they couldn’t imagine a day without it?
The question still remains, should I drink coffee or perhaps is it time to find a coffee alternative?
There is actual science behind why different people react differently to coffee, as it seems that it is actually a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you’re used to drinking.
NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine.
Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. It is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. However… 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. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but, it still contains some.
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.
This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much – because we’re all different!
The effects of Coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and the body
Important note: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.
The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.
Here’s a list of these effects (that usually decrease with long-term use)some good, some not so good, you decide to drink it or not…
- Stimulates the brain
- Boosts metabolism
- Boosts energy and exercise performance
- Increases your stress hormone cortisol, keeping your body in a heightened stress response
- Dehydrates your cells
So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.
Coffee and health risks
There are a ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.
Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:
- Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)
- Increased sleep disruption
- Lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Lower risk of certain liver diseases
- Lower risk of death (“all cause mortality”)
- Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease
- Over stimulation of the adrenal and thyroid glands.
Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).
What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. In other words, please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks.
You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.
Back to the main question: Should I drink coffee or not?
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.
If coffee upsets your stomach or feels acidic, perhaps even contributing to acid reflux, you may be experiencing low stomach acid or digestive concerns, such as “leaky gut”.
You could be intolerant to coffee as a food substance.
The beans often contains mold or mycotoxins. It can collect these from the storage facilities and the handling of the raw product. Moreover, if you are already immuno-compromised or have been exposed to mold and fungus, you may find yourself more intolerant to coffee.
If you think you experience food intolerance or you notice that your belly doesn’t feel “quite right” after consuming coffee or other foods, you may want to do some more reading on “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability. Read this article “Health Begins in the Gut”
Working with a Functional/Holistic Health professional can help you identify “healing opportunities” and improve your whole-body health. You can schedule a conversation to find out more about how you might solve the mystery of your food intolerance.
If you are feeling exhausted or burnt out caffeine from coffee may seem like a perfect answer, however you should reconsider the over stimulation of cortisol you get. This approach won’t speed up recovery and could lead to more fatigue.
Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:
- People with arrhythmia (e.g. irregular heartbeat)
- People who often feel anxious
- People who have trouble sleeping
- People who are pregnant
- Children and
- People who are burnt out (both physically and emotionally)
If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:
- Give you the jitters?
- Increase anxious feelings?
- Affect your sleep?
- Give you heart palpitations?
- Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?
- Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?
Depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, I recommend eliminating it for a while and see the difference.
Coffee alternatives for that comforting feeling…
If you enjoy having a warm cup of something, but want to avoid the caffeine or if you use to enjoy coffee and find you can no longer tolerate it, consider one of the coffee alternatives on the market.
Many of them are chicory root or roasted dandelion root based and actually have some nutritive qualities, as well as support the body’s detox pathways.
Whether you choose to drink coffee or a coffee alternative, this is a delicious recipe for you to enjoy!
Recipe (Latte): Pumpkin Spice Latte
3 tbsp coconut milk
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pumpkin puree
½ tsp maple syrup (optional)
1 cup coffee (decaf if preferred) or a coffee alternative, such as a chicory or roasted dandelion root coffee alternative
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until creamy.
Tip: You can use tea instead of milk if you prefer.
The information in this article is provided for educational, inspirational and self-empowerment purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice. It is the personal opinion and experience of the writer. Please see your medical professional for specific advice and medical needs.