Drinking coffee is one of those lifestyle practices that is so entrenched in cultural habits that it’s seen as normal and no one ever questions whether it’s actually healthy or not. When you start to look into it you soon discover it is a controversial topic with much conflicting information, so I’ll try to make things clearer for you. I believe it all comes down to quality and quantity.
Organic vs non-organic
Did you know conventional coffee is among the most heavily chemically treated foods in the world. It is steeped in synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides which are highly toxic and detrimental to human health.
In the case of organic coffee, there are no synthetic fertilisers or chemicals used during growth or production, which means cleaner beans. Organic coffee beans are richer in healthful antioxidants, and many people can taste the difference.
Coffee in it’s organic and natural state can have some great health benefits.
Caffeine is a common ingredient in all fat burners. The caffeine in coffee can boost your metabolism and prove beneficial for weight loss. The reason for this (besides increasing your body temperature), is that it is an appetite suppressant.
For starters, one of the biggest benefits of drinking coffee is it contains massive amounts of antioxidants, including polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids. Antioxidants fight free-radicals in the body and help reduce the risk of several diseases.
Brain function and mood
Drinking a small amount of coffee has also been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, which supports cognitive function. Caffeine stimulates brain chemicals like glutamate and dopamine, giving you a surge of energy and improving mental performance. Caffeine also increases serotonin which boosts your mood.
If you are drinking coffee because you are tired and desire an energy boost, this is not a good thing. The coffee is covering up the underlying problem. There’s no energy in a cup of coffee. We measure energy in terms of calories and coffee has no calories. So where does the energy come from? It comes from you. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and adrenal glands to give you a state of high alertness. Stimulants work by blocking the effects of adenosine, a brain chemical involved in sleep. Stimulants fall into the category of substances that temporarily increase bodily functions to simulate energy. The quality of this temporary energy burst is artificial and short-lived.
Unfortunately this also drains vital reserves, so once the effects wear off, you will feel more groggy, and you will probably require another cup of coffee – and so the vicious circle begins. This can lead to you becoming dependent and even addicted to coffee.
Most commercial brands of coffee are not in their natural organic state and are highly acidic and filled with known fungal by-products and mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are a group of naturally occurring chemicals which are produced by dangerous moulds which can make you feel jittery and cause a variety or health concerns. They can stimulate the hyper-secretion of gastric acids, causing digestive discomfort, reflux and heartburn. Decaffeinated coffee has been shown to increase acidity to a greater degree than either regular coffee or caffeine alone. By consuming highly acidic products you are throwing off your body’s naturally alkaline pH balance, making you susceptible to illness.
Just like alcohol and nicotine, caffeine is a vasoconstrictor (narrowing of the blood vessels) that diminishes the water and blood supply to the skin. This occurs when you drink too much coffee, so you can reduce this effect by ensuring you don’t overdo it.
Makes you feel jittery
People respond differently to the stimulant effects of coffee, depending on their genetic make up. Some people may have a cup and start bouncing off the walls, while others can have a double espresso and go to bed. I personally avoid anything with caffeine as I am super sensitive and experience the jitters and heart palpitations. Listen to your body. If you experience these effects, reduce or cut coffee out of your diet.
Drinking dark beverages, such as coffee, black tea and red wine, can lead to discolouration. The outer layer of teeth, known as the enamel, can become stained by the pigments that are found in your morning cup of coffee.
Want to continue drinking coffee?
Make sure you’re drinking fresh, high quality, organic coffee (don’t touch the instant stuff!) to ensure it’s lower in acid and in its most natural state. Don’t drink too much (no more than one cup per day) and avoid adding cows’ milk and processed sugar as they are acidic and toxic to the body. The best option would be having your coffee black, or adding a touch of nut milk and raw organic honey to sweeten.
Want to kick your coffee addiction?
Decide if you want to go cold-turkey and stop drinking coffee overnight, or slowly reduce the amount over time. Either way, please be aware that when you stop drinking coffee you will go through a period of detoxification and withdrawal symptoms. You may experience headaches, anxiety, sleepiness, irritability, muscle pain and stiffness, flu-like symptoms. If you decide to reduce the amount slowly, these symptoms shouldn’t be as overwhelming.
The next step is finding a coffee replacement and trying to recreate or replace the experience coffee gives you. For example, get a herbal tea in a coffee mug or takeaway cup and sip slowly. I recommend trying some roasted dandelion or chicory root tea. It looks and tastes fairly similar to coffee and has several health promoting benefits such as helping to alkalise the stomach, aid in digestion and assimilation. Chicory root contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties which are highly beneficial for both the immune and nervous system. Teeccino is another very satisfying caffeine-free alternative that contains carob, dates, figs, chicory and other ingredients and has a deep roasted flavour – it even brews like coffee to enhance the coffee experience.
Another great option is freshly squeezed juice. Raw juices contain living enzymes, antioxidants and phytochemicals that give your body and mind a natural boost of energy without putting stress on your nervous system or adrenals. Try juicing ingredients like pineapple, kale, apples, oranges, carrots, beetroot, ginger and lemon, and make sure they are organic.
Fullyraw Kristina also has an amazing recipe replacement for coffee which is made with dates, coconut water and carob powder, and can be found HERE.
Make time for rest and rejuvenation. Eat a diet rich in plant foods like fruits and vegetables to alkalise the body and encourage detoxification. Also ensure you get enough sleep so you won’t require stimulants during the day.
Is drinking coffee for you? It’s important to tune into your body and see how many cups a day work for you. Make sure you’re drinking coffee for the right reasons (taste and health benefits) and ensure your body responds well. A good test if you’re not sure, is to cut it out for 4 weeks and then reintroduce it and observe the effects and changes.
I would recommend staying away from coffee if you have any health issues and are trying to detoxify, as coffee is a stimulant and doesn’t support the body’s natural healing processes.