Coffee has been consumed for hundreds of years for its stimulating effects and taste. For most it has become a habit in our daily lives. But is it good for us or should we stay away from it? The studies are quite controversial. It’s either super healthy, or incredibly harmful, depending on who you ask and where you look. Below is a list of the pros and cons of coffee drinking.
- High in essential nutrients and antioxidants - coffee contains good amounts of B1, B2, B3, B5, folate, potassium and magnesium. Some studies show that the average person who eats a Western diet gets more antioxidants from coffee than fruits and vegetables combined! This obviously isn’t a good thing, as it shows many people don’t eat enough plant based foods, but if they were to cut out coffee, their health could actually worsen.
- Coffee can enhance brain function - caffeine is a stimulant which, in the brain, blocks the function of Adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. By doing this, caffeine actually increases activity in the brain, reduces tiredness and makes us feel more alert. Studies show that caffeine can lead to a short term boost in mood, reaction time, and general cognitive function.
- Reduced risk of Alzheimers and Parkinsons - studies have shown that coffee drinkers have up to a 65% lower risk of developing Alzheimers!
- Lower risk of depression and suicide - a study from Harvard showed that people who drank the most coffee had a 20% lower risk of becoming depressed.
- Caffeine - ok, so this can be good and bad! If you’re sensitive to caffeine, or consume too much, it can lead to jitteriness, anxiety, heart palpitations and disturbed sleep. It can also reduce the quality of sleep. If you are stressed and already feel anxiety, consuming caffeine puts a massive amount of stress on the adrenal glands.
- Addictive - caffeine, if consumed regularly, can become addictive. People can become tolerant to it and it either stops working, or need to consume more. Withdrawing can cause symptoms such as headaches, irritability and tiredness.
- Coffee is acidic and contains a compound called theobromine which can leave us feeling light-headed, nauseas and can disrupt sleep.
- Don’t opt for decaf! - you may be reading this and be thing ‘it’s ok, I drink decaf’, but most decaf coffee is made by rinsing the beans with chemicals, which isn’t good, but decaf still contains some caffeine, and not all the health benefits of regular coffee apply to decaf. So you may be consuming more toxins, still getting negative effects from caffeine, and not getting any health benefits! Just opt for one caffeinated coffee, other than lots of decaffeinated!
At the end of the day, everyone is different and it is important to listen to your body and try to be aware of your coffee limit. The effect of coffee varies depending on genetics. If you have the gene that allows you to metabolise coffee effectively you many be able to drink a couple of cups a day and feel great. If you lack the gene, one cup may be enough to make you feel jittery, exhausted and make you feel sick. There are some genetic tests on the market that test this gene.
Here’s some tips to help you reap the benefits of coffee, without the site effects-
- Drink coffee with food - this will reduce the blood sugar spike which happens when consuming on a empty stomach.
- If you must have it white, opt for almond or coconut milk.
- Drink a large glass of water after each coffee. Coffee is a diuretic so naturally dehydrates the body.
- Stick to one good quality coffee a day and opt for herbal or green tea the rest of the day.
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