Maybe you're confused about coffee. You’ve probably seen articles over the years that condemn coffee as harmful to your health, and others that promote coffee’s health benefits.
The truth is that coffee can either be a health boon or bust, depending on how and when you drink it.
Why We Love Coffee
We adore coffee for its aroma, taste, caffeine, and comfort. It improves our focus, boosts our memory, increases our energy and wakefulness. Plus, coffee has become a social and cultural icon in our generation like never before.
There is a wealth of new research showing the benefits of coffee consumption. Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants. Drinking coffee lowers your risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, dementia, heart disease, many cancers, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease.
Coffee can help with weight loss, sports performance, and it can elevate our overall mood -- not to mention that the latest research showing that coffee drinkers live longer!
But there are reasons to be cautious: in addition to giving you a case of the “jitters,” a coffee habit gone wrong can burn out your adrenal glands and dose you with toxins that can hurt your health.
To reap all the health benefits of coffee and avoid its drawbacks, be sure you understand and follow the Three Commandments of Coffee:
1.) Drink organic, high-quality coffee (and tea) whenever possible.
Consuming organic foods and beverages allows us to limit the amount of pesticides and herbicides we ingest. It is easy to forget to include our beverages when we “go organic.” Or, we might have organic coffee in our cupboard, but forget to ask for organic when we go out to our favorite café.
Low-quality coffees that are old or stored improperly can contain up to 50% mold or mycotoxins which can worsen allergies, digestive health, and overall wellness. For high-quality coffee, look for coffees grown at a high altitude and medium roasted to preserve beneficial antioxidants, and check the date on the packaging.
Do you prefer decaf coffee? Most decaf is processed with the chemical methylene chloride. If you wish to avoid chemicals on your coffee, look for Swiss water-processed decaffeinated coffee, which uses water and osmosis instead of chemicals to remove caffeine. Or, you may want to consider watering down caffeinated coffee, avoiding it altogether, or substituting coffee with non-caffeinated or low caffeine teas.
2.) Don’t drink coffee or other stimulating beverages in lieu of eating meals.
When you drink coffee on an empty stomach, you can suppress your appetite while raising the stress hormone cortisol. This virtually guarantees you’ll suffer a blood sugar deep-dive once the cortisol lowers. Skipping meals and overconsuming stimulants can lead to blood sugar dysregulation and insulin resistance.
Instead, eat food containing protein and good fats along with your coffee to stabilize blood sugar. You can also opt for the “bullet-proof” method by adding 1 tbsp grass-fed butter and 1 tbsp coconut oil to a strong cup of coffee. The good fats are beneficial to the brain and heart, will help maintain blood sugar levels, and help increase your focus and energy without giving you the jitters. You can also blend protein powder into cold coffee with a little ice, making a Frappuccino-styled energizing protein shake.
3. ) Avoid drinking coffee too late in the day.
Caffeine and other stimulants raise cortisol, a stress hormone that is meant to start out highest at the beginning of the day and taper off until bedtime. We refuel our cortisol when we sleep. Drinking coffee in the afternoon or later can disrupt this process. Without natural cortisol production, you can grow dependent on coffee for energy.
You might also be using it as self-medication for adrenal burnout. If you’re hooked on a late dose of caffeine, do the following test: Drink your last “cup of joe” an hour earlier each day until you reach late morning. Note any changes in sleep and energy. If you are dying without it and have a 3 p.m. energy crash, consider eating an extra snack or meal, supplementing with B vitamins, and/or checking your salivary cortisol levels with your doctor to address adrenal health and improve your tolerance to stress.