Once and For All: Is Coffee Good For You?

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How to know once and for all: is coffee good for you or not?

As coffee consumption is booming in the US with up to 64% of Americans consuming at least one cup of java a day, we’re all asking the question: is coffee good for you? Coffee and caffeine, in general, has always been somewhat of a polarizing subject with the pros and cons of it often being the topic of heated discussions.

 

 

Coffee is one of those things – you either love it or hate it. You know if you like the taste or not (or if it’s just a reason to drink sugar and cream). You also know how it makes you feel (i.e. your gut, your mind, etc.). Some of us can’t function without it first thing in the AM. 🙋‍♀️ (Can I get an amen?)

Not to mention the crazy headlines that say coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!

There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It’s a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you’re used to drinking. I personally did the 23andme genetic test and found out I process caffeine faster than normal, which answered why sometimes when I drink 2 cups in a row of fully leaded, one eye is dilated bigger than the other even though I didn’t have any weird heart palpitation or anxiety issues (yes it freaked me the heck out!)

NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… 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.

 

Caffeine metabolism

 

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. (Like I said before–I’m one of them.)

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.

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This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much–because we’re all different!

 

Is black coffee good for you?

 

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

BUT—it can also:

  • 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

 

Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).

NOTE: 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. 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.

 

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body

 

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 have just started 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):

  • Stimulates the brain
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Boosts energy and exercise performance
  • Increases your stress hormone cortisol
  • Dehydrates

 

So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and ask if coffee is good for you based on these factors to decide if it’s worth it or not.

 

How much coffee can I have daily?

 

It is generally considered safe to consume up to 400mg of caffeine a day which equates to roughly 4 standard cups of brewed coffee. Anything in excess of this can leave you feeling anxious and irritable while also having an adverse effect on your heart and brain. Although even decaf coffee contains traces of caffeine, it may be an option worth considering if all else fails and you find yourself unable to cut down on your coffee consumption.  Thankfully there are a number of ways in which you can systematically cut down on your habit and making your coffee healthier without giving up on your favorite beverage altogether.

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Give your coffee a healthy overhaul

 

If you want to incorporate coffee into your healthy lifestyle, you need to make sure that every cup you drink is as healthy as possible. While a Chocolate Cream Frappuccino from Starbucks may not be sky-high in caffeine, it is also not the healthiest coffee choice to make. The simplest way to ensure that the coffee you drink is as healthy as possible is to ditch mass-produced, overly processed coffee and go organic.  Conventional coffee is often sprayed with pesticides which could have an adverse effect on your health.  Opting for an organic brand will not only be good for your own health but for that of the environment as well.

 

Spice things up

 

You can give your regular cup of coffee a healthy boost by adding a pinch or two of cinnamon to it. Cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that can help control your blood sugar and help your body ward off infection. If you aren’t a fan of cinnamon, try experimenting with vanilla extract, nutmeg, and cardamom to not only enhance the flavor profile of the coffee but its nutritional contents as well.

 

Steer clear of artificial creamers and sugar

 

Indulging in a sweet and creamy cup of coffee definitely seems like a dream-come-true. Unfortunately, artificial creamers and sugar, especially when consumed frequently, are not really conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Where possible avoid synthetic creamers and opt for fresh cream or milk instead.

One of the first things you will have to do when attempting to make your coffee healthier is to cut down on the sugar.  Apart from being unhealthy when consumed frequently sugar also spoils the natural flavor of coffee to a great extent. Once you have dissuaded yourself to ditch the sugar your palette will become a lot more attuned to the variety of coffee roasts that are available. Also, ensure that you use the right grind for the type of coffee you are making in order to maximize its flavor and aroma. You can even go as far as to drink your coffee black and bitter as to fully savor the taste.

 

Learn to schedule your coffee consumption

 

Apart from practically being in love with the delicious aroma and flavor of a good cup of coffee, many enthusiasts use coffee to fuel both their minds and bodies ahead of a challenging day. While a healthy dose of caffeine can undoubtedly perk you up, it is important to be aware of the tolerance that is created by regular coffee consumption.  The more coffee you drink, the more you will need to drink to stay on top of your game. Scheduling your coffee consumption will allow you to still enjoy the benefits of your favorite java without having to deal with withdrawal symptoms or the effects of over-consumption.

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2 pm is a good cut-off time

 

In humans, the half-life of caffeine is anywhere between 4 and 6 hours which means that it takes up to 6 hours for the effects of your cup of coffee to begin to wear off. Due to this, 2 pm is considered to be a good time to have your last cup of coffee if you want to be guaranteed of a good night’s sleep. It takes as little as 45 minutes for your body to absorb 99% of the caffeine content of a cup of coffee. A cup of coffee as you wake and another one mid-morning should then more than suffice in getting you through a day. As the day progresses, start weaning yourself off the coffee by opting for low-caffeine tea or other caffeine-free hot drinks instead that will relax you instead of keep you up at night.

Coffee is without a doubt one of life’s greatest blessings. While drinking too much, too frequently can have an adverse effect on your well-being, moderate coffee consumption is not only extremely enjoyable but also good for your health as well.

The answer to your burning question: Should I drink coffee?

 

Should you 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.

Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:

  • People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)
  • People who often feel anxious
  • People who have trouble sleeping
  • People who are pregnant
  • Children and teens

 

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?

 

{Read this post if you wanna know how to hack your coffee to make it SUPER healthy?

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.

 

{PS–My FAVE coffee maker has quickly become the Nespresso VirtuoPlus machine!! I got one for Christmas and ohmuhgoodness it’s the best coffee ever!! This newest machine makes espresso AND coffee, and Nespresso also makes a milk frother you can buy separately–SO. GOOD. Like, I wanted to believe George Clooney before, but now I REALLY do!! Ha!}

 

 

 

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Lover of coffee? But do you know the BENEFITS vs the RISKS?? Find out the crazy good benefits and see if you should drink coffee or not! #coffee #morning

 

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