Many people in the health community think coffee is unhealthy. Caffeine is a stimulant so people immediately assume it takes a toll on your body. This is a myth. Now, as a purveyor of putting only the highest quality food and drink into one’s body, I’m not extolling the virtues of non-organic instant coffee mixed with some pasteurised/homogenised milk (plus or minus sugar). I’m talking about organic fresh coffee, either black or with grass-fed butter/non dairy milk. To try and shed some light on why current research suggests coffee is remarkably healthy, here’s my top three reasons to drink up!
So, like, the number one reason most people drink coffee; for the wakefulness/alertness effects. I’d count this as a major benefit, who wouldn’t want a boost to their focus, productivity and mental endurance? The thing to remember is coffee is nothing like cocaine or adderall. It works via different mechanisms, and the boosts are something you can actually feel good about, that actually keep your brain in a healthy state . If you experience the boost but then have a massive crash of fatigue and irritability however, this could indicate that coffee’s effects aren’t so beneficial for you.
Coffee is the biggest source of polyphenols in the western diet.It contains over a thousand compounds many of which are antioxidants; these are important molecules that ‘donate’ electrons to free radicals (reactive damaging molecules produced by the body all the time) to effectively neutralise them. Other sources of polyphenols are brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices.
3. Reduction of risk of various common diseases
Coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of parkinsons , liver disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease as well as many more chronic diseases. Various large scale studies show reduced all-cause mortality with coffee consumption, with the benefit increasing the more coffee is drunk (up to about 5 cups a day). While a lot of these studies are observational (correlation does not equal causation) there does appear to be a strong link, there are plausible mechanisms for this (see high antioxidant/polyphenol content), and also it’s hard to explain the association by saying that healthy people (who tend to exercise, eat fruit & veg, etc) drink more coffee because that is generally not the case!
(By the way there is also evidence that the “more coffee causes more health” may not actually be due to the actual effects of more coffee, but perhaps that people who drink more coffee tend to because they are “fast metabolisers” of coffee, and perhaps this genetic mutation is actually the real hero here. )
If you enjoy coffee, and it makes you feel good, I don’t think there is any reason to cut it out. If you are highly sensitive to coffee and feel anxious or have “coffee crashes”, you’re possibly a slow metabolizer of caffeine, or you have adrenal issues or other stress issues (e.g poor sleep, general stress) that mean coffee tips you over the edge. Try quitting coffee for 30 days, then slowly introduce it taking note of its effects.
I always say the best time to drink coffee is after a good night’s sleep when you feel alert and vibrant, in which case coffee will often give you a magical boost 🙂