Health Benefits of Coffee – It’s NOT All Bad!

Some of you may be surprised to hear that I have gone back to drinking coffee. A little bit. Mind you, I don’t brew endless pots and sip on it all day long as I once did! Why would I decide to once again take up a habit I worked hard to break? Why start drinking coffee again when there are many good reasons to NOT drink it at all? 

When I was in nutrition school, I gave a presentation about the evils of coffee and demonstrated a great substitute, my “Kick the Coffee Mocha Latte”. I still love that recipe, but I have chosen to now drink coffee sparingly. I have just one cup per day, in the morning and usually use naturally water processed, decaffeinated, organic beans that I grind myself. 

Coffee is one of the most pesticide soaked crops in existence so it is a very bad idea to just pick up a cup at your local drive-through. You must seek out organic coffee or make it yourself at home with organic beans.

Drinking coffee may not the best decision for everyone. If you are unduly sensitive to caffeine, for instance, I would not recommend starting to drink it! Coffee is a drug, after all. The normal action of adenosine is blocked by the caffeine therein and it thus induces sleeplessness and increased brain activity. If you suffer from adrenal exhaustion, osteoporosis, electrolyte imbalance (due to diuretic effect) or pregnant or nursing a baby, you would also be wise to avoid coffee and caffeine in general, so that would include teas too.

I started to realize that when I used to drink BLACK coffee, I never experienced any digestive issues such as heartburn. Since I quit, my dentist informed me that there was a lot of wear on my teeth from acid, probably silent reflux at night and a subsequent visit with a specialist confirmed that I had laryngeal pharyngeal reflux. My herbal medicine instructor mentioned in a lecture that studies have shown that black coffee drinkers never get liver cancer! Coffee is a bitter that stimulates gastric juices that help us digest our food.

What are the other benefits of coffee? There is a lot of evidence that coffee helps to stabilize blood sugar. The caffeine in coffee binds to opioid receptors and curbs cravings for sugary foods. When taken just before exercise, it can help with endurance as well as burning fat. However, don’t drink it after your workout as it can interfere with building muscle!

The type of bean is also a factor, with darker roasts actually having LESS caffeine. Drip coffee has more caffeine than espresso due to increased brewing time, so if you find you cannot tolerate the coffee you are drinking, know that you might be able to drink a different brand, roast or brewing method.

Coffee is very high in polyphenols (antioxidants) and is in fact the highest source of antioxidants in the Standard American Diet!! There is evidence that coffee benefits your heart, memory and prevents cognitive decline and depression.

So, if you think drinking coffee may be beneficial for you, keep these pointers in mind:

1. Buy organic whole beans and grind them yourself to maintain freshness 
2. Use pure filtered water
3. Use unbleached filters to prevent chlorine and dioxins from leaching into your drink
4. Drink it black (so you don’t spike your insulin levels) and before exercise
5. Be careful about your container – no plastic cups that could leach BPA into the hot liquid
6. One cup or espresso shot per day (espresso is lower in caffeine due to less contact with the water)
7. If you are caffeine sensitive, use water process decaf, not chemically processed decaf

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