Not to your surprise the answer is, yes and no. There’s a lot of research out there on coffee as it’s one of the most popular beverages in the world.
Let’s explore why coffee can be good for you and also why it can be bad for you.
While there are many controversies about coffee’s role in the prevention of Parkinson’s disease to breast cancer, I’m mostly interested in the conversation relating to its effect on blood sugar metabolism. In the Evolve21 Healthy Challenge I explain how insulin resistance and inflammation are at the core of modern-day chronic diseases.
The single most important healthy habit all of us can adopt is to manage our blood sugar by decreasing the triggers that push it out of balance. Curious if coffee is one of those triggers?
Studies showed that in people with Type 2 diabetes coffee intake was correlated with insulin spikes and increased blood sugar after a meal. Further research has shown that the caffeine in coffee might be the culprit responsible for the secretion of higher levels of insulin from the pancreas.
Clearly higher insulin and glucose levels are not what we want to see on a body healing from insulin resistance. Considering that diabesity affects nearly 1.7 billion people worldwide and growing, the news now sounded the alarm of caution that perhaps our coffee habit is a detrimental addiction needing to be greatly reduced or removed all together.
I often am asked why coffee is removed from most of my programs. While certain populations of people may tolerate coffee and even enjoy some health benefits, it is evident that it is not for everyone.
Chances are if you are reading this either you or someone you care about is sick, inflamed, hormonally imbalanced, nutritionally-compromised, overworked, stressed out, fatigued, depressed, and toxic. Coffee is not part of the medicine required for healing.
Other Risks of Drinking Coffee
Approximately 4 cups of coffee or a beverage with equivalent amounts of caffeine can raise blood pressure for many hours. The measured blood pressure levels are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Caffeine 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. Decreasing coffee and caffeinated beverages will help to lower often exaggerated stress-reactions.
When more than 2g of caffeine enters the body, the heart becomes stimulated and blood vessels dilate. Shortly after, blood pressure increases, causing bronchial relaxation in the lungs and increased breathing. These physiological reactions tend to cause irritability, restlessness, insomnia, and agitation.
Because it is a stimulant, caffeine can cause increased contractions of stomach muscles – possibly causing abdominal pain, diarrhea, and increased bowel movements. Those who have irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or colitis may want to be extra cautious before choosing caffeinated beverages.
The acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, heart burn, GERD and dysbiosis (imbalances in your gut flora).
It is often an issue with coffee drinkers and makes it really difficult to rely on the body’s natural source of energy. Ask any coffee drinker about how it feels to withdraw from coffee, and you will mistake their story for that of a drug addict’s…
Nutritional Deficiencies and toxicity
Caffeine inhibits the absorption of some nutrients and causes the urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and trace minerals. Constituents in coffee can interfere with normal drug metabolism and detoxification in the liver, making it difficult to regulate the normal detoxification process in the liver.
Male Health Problems
Research shows that men can significantly reduce their risk for urinary and prostate problems by making dietary changes, which include eliminating coffee and caffeine.
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. Women on birth control pills are particularly at risk since they tend to have a decreased ability to detoxify caffeine.
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.
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.
Benefits of Drinking Coffee
Even in relatively low doses of 250 milligrams, caffeine has been shown to stimulate alertness and improve mental performance.
At 250 milligrams, some report an improved sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability.
Studies suggest that caffeine can help you perform a variety of cognitive tasks, such as recognizing visual patterns, more quickly.
Some sources note that caffeine allows athletes to exercise for longer durations without hitting exhaustion. Although the mechanism is not yet known, caffeine affects the utilization of glycogen during workouts. Glycogen is the main fuel for muscles. Once depleted, exhaustion occurs. Caffeine decreases the use of glycogen stores during workouts up to 50 percent – allowing for longer workouts.
Reduced Muscle Pain
Some researchers have found that caffeine may potentially stimulate the release of B-endorphins and hormones that depress the sensation of pain or discomfort.
Faster Effects of Medication
Caffeine constricts blood vessels and helps the body absorb medications more quickly, which is why it is added to some pain medications.
Antioxidants in caffeine help to stabilize free radicals and stop them from doing damage. If a free radical is formed in a cell and it is not neutralized, it can damage the DNA of the cell.
Caffeine keeps dopamine molecules active, preventing diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Harvard researchers have found that men who drink four cups of caffeinated coffee a day are half as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease as those who refrain from consuming caffeinated beverages.
Drinking a moderate amount of caffeine can be therapeutic for people with asthma. Caffeine in the form of coffee may be used to prevent an asthma attack in emergency cases, but is not intended to replace medication.
Do the Benefits of Drinking Coffee Outweigh the Negatives?
I know there’s a lot of coffee lovers out there ( including myself! ), so if your body does well with coffee, it’s ok to continue to get the benefits of drinking coffee. Just remember to drink it earlier in the day, consume an organic brand and don’t over do it. Keep in mind: ‘the dose makes the poison’
But for other people who have negative reactions to drinking coffee, it’s a wise experiment to provide yourself a break from coffee intake and see what it feels like to live your life on your own fuel. Remove coffee and caffeine safely from your system and see how authentically energized you feel!
I know this is a difficult goal, but I assure you that your body and mind will thank you. The sense of calm, clarity and restful sleep will reward you with the simple pleasures of innate health and an energy that is rightfully yours.
Consider a complete elimination program and avoid all refined sugars, flours, caffeine, alcohol, pasteurized dairy, gluten and any other addictive substance. By allowing certain triggers to stay in the diet the body stays on the vicious cycle of cravings and addictive behavior. Reset your biology by eliminating all these dietary triggers for inflammation and fatigue.
To me the best coffee substitute is Yerba Mate. It gives me the same energy and alertness as coffee does. Other great coffee substitutes are rooibos, green tea, chicory root, dandelion and Teccino™.
To best avoid uncomfortable side effects, wean off coffee gradually over a four-week period. Reduce coffee intake by 25% every seven days. For instance, if you are used to drinking 8ounces of coffee each morning, lower this to 6 ounces each morning for the first seven days; 4.5 ounces the second seven days; 3.4 ounces the third week and 2.5 the fourth week. At the same time, increase your water intake and add one of the optional coffee substitutes mentioned above.
I’d like to hear from you…
What have you tried to break free from caffeine and what worked best for you?