Is coffee good or bad for us? This is a much debated topic that cannot be answered with a one size fits all response. When I’m asked this question by a patient, I explain that it depends on an individual’s coffee consumption habits, current medical status and their level of caffeine sensitivity.Potential Benefits of Coffee:
- Nutritional Content: coffee contains many more chemicals that just caffeine. Most of us grab a morning coffee for an energy boost but in addition to caffeine, coffee contains several potent antioxidants and micro nutrients (niacin, magnesium, potassium).
- Reduction in Cancer Risk: multiple studies have sought to determine if coffee causes harm and increases an individuals’ risk of developing cancer. The research shows that coffee consumption has the potential of decreasing a person’s risk of developing prostate cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, Parkinson’s disease and cardiovascular disease.
- Improved Digestion: drinking a coffee that tastes bitter helps to promote digestion. Most people want to avoid the bitter taste profile of coffee but bitters actually help to stimulate the release of stomach acid and digestive enzymes. Having a little bit of coffee with your breakfast can actually help promote optimal digestion and absorption of your food.
- Relaxation: the act of drinking your morning coffee is often times regarded as a relaxing ritual. Creating a space where you can meditate on and contemplate your upcoming day is a great way to promote physical and emotional health.
Ways Coffee can be Harmful:
- Excessive Consumption: everything in moderation! If you need a triple shot Americano or 3 venti drip coffees to get you through your day, you are relying too heavily on caffeine. Don’t forget that caffeine is addictive. I view optimal health as freedom from restrictions on the physical, mental and emotional levels. I’d challenge you to think about how relying on an external substance does not promote freedom and health.
- Anxiety and Insomnia: in some individuals caffeine can exacerbate anxiety and insomnia. If you are struggling with these conditions, I’d recommend talking to your physician about how caffeine could be making these issues worse.
- Sugar: many of the “fancy” coffee beverages are very high in sugar…no wonder they taste so great. Sugar is detrimental to our health because it promotes inflammation, causes type II diabetes, leads to weight gain and negatively impacts our mood (I need an entire blog post to discuss the negative effects of sugar).
- Dehydration: people use coffee to hydrate and forget to drink water. Coffee is actually a diuretic, meaning it promotes dehydration. If you are drinking coffee in the day, you must increase your water consumption substantially. Try drinking 16 ounces of water in the morning before having your first coffee.
- Caffeine Sensitivity: some individuals have impaired liver detoxification pathways and are very sensitive to caffeine. If this is the case, consumption of coffee should be kept to a minimum and you should discuss how to support healthy detoxification with your naturopathic physician.
- Adrenal Fatigue: if you are “stressed, tired and wired” coffee is probably not the best beverage for you. Individuals who are under extreme stress and suffer from adrenal fatigue can make the situation worse with drinking coffee.
At Graham Rehabilitation and Wellness we can help you understand your health from a individualized point of view. Scheduled an appointment with our naturopathic physician today and begin your journey to optimal health and wellness.