There's no denying that our society is obsessed with coffee. It's trendy to talk about needing coffee to work/survive/be a mom etc We wear #coffeeaddict shirts, Instagram our Starbucks drinks and buy $200 espresso machines. I say we because I've definitely done (or still do) some of those things myself!
But is coffee good for our health?
We often hear about the health benefits because we all WANT coffee to be good for us, right? Same thing with wine. People love to talk about the antioxidants in wine even though we all know you could get those from fruit too. haha
So let's dive into some COFFEE FACTS. Then you can decide if coffee is right or not. for YOU (because it's great for some but not everyone).
Benefits of Drinking Coffee
Please note that these apply to REGULAR BLACK COFFEE. Adding milk, sugar etc can negate these benefits. Most studies are based on drinking 2-4 cups a day. More than 4 cups can lead to consuming too much caffeine.
- Caffeine helps your body to burn fat. (source)
- A recent review of research conducted by Harvard’s Dr. Frank Hu showed that the risk of type II diabetes decreases by 9% for each daily cup of coffee consumed. Decaf coffee decreased risk by 6% per cup. (source)
- Researchers at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center found that those that consume 1-3 cups of coffee a day have a 29% reduced risk of developing liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which is the most common type (source)
- Coffee may improves various aspects of brain function — including memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and general mental function. (source)
- Researchers out of Brazil found that strong black coffee kills the bacteria on teeth that leads to tooth decay. (source)
- Coffee contains antioxidants which is what contributes to many of the health benefits. Antioxidants can reduce inflammation and other health risk factors.
- Caffeine increases energy levels. (source)
Cons of Drinking Coffee
- Too much caffeine is linked to adverse effects like anxiety, sleep disruptions, heart palpitations and restlessness (source) Read more about the health risks of consuming too much caffeine here.
- The increase in serotonin levels, combined with the increase in serotonin receptors cause withdrawal symptoms like agitation.
- Coffee inhibits the absorption of iron.
- Caffeine increases cortisol and epinephrine at rest. Drinking coffee re-creates stress conditions for the body. (source)
- Caffeine increases blood sugar levels. This is especially dangerous for people with hypoglycemia (or low sugar levels) who feel jittery, shaky, moody and unfocused when hungry. Blood sugar fluctuations cause cortisol spikes, which not only exhaust the adrenals but also deregulate the immune system. (source)
- Coffee makes us crave refined carbs and sugar because our body is looking for a quick way to bring blood sugar levels up!
- Coffee can also stimulate the release of bile so if you have IBS or digestion problems, you may want to skip it.
- Coffee contributes to estrogen dominance PMS, heavy periods, cellulite and even breast cancer which can be symptoms of estrogen dominance. (source)
Who Should Avoid Drinking Coffee?
Anyone with a caffeine intolerance. Listen to your body. If caffeine is making you tired, keeping you up at night, making your skin break out, giving your headaches, causing digestive problems etc then you probably need to cut back or cut it out all together.
Women who are pregnant should limit it to 1-2 cups a day (12oz) or choose decaf. The caffeine can increase the baby's heart rate dangerously as well as lead to miscarriage or low birth weight. (source)
Anyone trying to heal from adrenal fatigue. To learn more about adrenal fatigue grab my free ebook!
Anyone with a hormonal imbalance. Learn more about balancing hormones in my free ebook.
If you suffer from insomnia or anxiety, caffeine may make it worse.
If you are low in iron, remember that coffee inhibits iron absorption so make sure you are getting your iron in at different times of the day (not with your morning jo).
Women trying to conceive may want to avoid caffeine. (source)
If you have a mutation in the gene CYP1A2, your liver may not be able to properly break down and eliminate caffeine from your system. This gene determines if a person is a slow or fast metabolizer of caffeine, some can't tolerate it at all. (source)
Organic vs Non Organic Coffee
Organic-certified coffees can be treated with wide range of pesticides. The organic label on a coffee bag just means the pesticides used are organic (natural) vs. synthetic. Organic doesn't necessarily mean a higher quality or better tasting coffee. Organic labelling costs money so smaller companies don't always use it. The company also has to be organic for 3 years before they can put the label on their products. Reading up on a company to learn about its practices and how their coffee is made is best because they might be organic and just not use the label or they might be organic but still use a lot of natural pesticides. In terms of chemicals, coffee is one of the most heavily treated crops of any agricultural commodity.
Fair Trade is a movement that promotes fair pay and ethical treatment for farmers in developing countries when they export their goods to the developed world. It is regulated by non-profit, third party fair trade associations who award certifications to companies that adhere to the 10 principles of fair trade. (source) Fair Trade means creating employment opportunities in the developing world, offering long term agreements and interest-free cash advances, paying a fair wage to workers, practicing transparency, not allowing for child labor or forced labor, not discriminating, providing safe working environments and respecting the environment. Fair Trade labels include Fairtrade International, FLOCERT, Fair Trade Federation and World Fair Trade Organization. Direct Trade has similarities but is regulated by individual companies not third parties and the goal is to produce a better quality coffee.
- A regular cup (8oz) of coffee contains around 95mg of caffeine but this can vary! A short coffee at Starbucks contains 180mg! A shot of espresso contains around 60mg. A cup of decaf coffee usually contains around 3mg of caffeine.
- Decaf is a great option for people who love the taste of coffee but are sensitive or can't have much caffeine.
- Decaf coffee doesn't contain as many antioxidants as regular but it still contains a lot so many of the health benefits still apply. Less research has been done on decaf coffee than regular so we don't know as much about its benefits.
- Decaf coffee is not linked to improving mood, enhanced athletic performance, burning fat or reducing risk of depression the way that regular coffee is.
- Decaf doesn't come with the side effects that regular coffee can come with like keeping you up at night, making you feel jittery, caffeine addiction etc
- Many companies use CHEMICALS to remove the caffeine from coffee, even organic ones. What you want to look for instead is decaf coffee that has been "water processed" (sometimes it will say Swiss Water). This means water was used instead of chemicals.
Matcha comes from green tea. You can buy it as a powder to make lattes or basic matcha tea. It does contain caffeine but has many health benefits. It's lower in caffeine than regular coffee and has a slower release so generally people don't get jittery or crash.
Dandelion tea can be made from the leaves on the dandelion plant or by roasting the root. It's a naturally diuretic so helpful if you're bloated. It's also good for your liver. It's free of any caffeine. Avoid it if you have a ragweed allergy.
Chicory root tea is made from roasting the roots of a chicory plant. The flavour is bit more woody and nutty than coffee. It may help with weight loss and gut health thanks to inulin (prebiotic fiber). It doesn't contain any caffeine. Avoid it if you have a ragweed allergy. Teecino makes a great chicory herbal coffee alternative!
Yerba Mate gives you the energy boost that coffee does without the crash. It also contains nutrients. It is made from the South American rainforest holly tree. Many people enjoy drinking it cold!
Golden milk aka turmeric latte is a great option for boosting your immune system! The star is ingredient is turmeric! It can also contain ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, honey etc It delicious mixed into hot milk/water.
Chai tea still contains caffeine but less than coffee and may still help promote alertness. Black and green teas have strong antioxidant properties so they are a great option! Roobios is another popular option. Try making a latte with black tea instead of coffee!
Four Sigmatic makes mushroom drinks- coffee, matcha, hot chocolate decaf etc These are a nice option because of the added adaptogens (help our body respond to stress) and superfoods.
Shop organic fair trade coffee and alternatives: