Coffee: A Healthy Habit or a Harmful Fix?
Written by Vickie Chountalos, CNP
While some studies state that coffee is good for us, others claim that we should stay far, far away from it. Does drinking coffee actually do us any good? Or does it promote illness? I’m here to tell you that it does both.
Health Benefits of Coffee
- Coffee contains disease-fighting antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that fight against the damaging, but normal, effects of oxidation in the body by combating free radicals. The antioxidants found in coffee, such as chlorogenic acids, have been found to be associated with fighting cancer, liver disease, obesity and heart disease.
- Coffee helps with brain health. Coffee interacts with adenosine receptors in the brain that are linked with cognitive ability. Studies have found that coffee consumption can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by blocking inflammation in the brain. It also provides protective effects against Parkinson’s disease and depression.
- Coffee helps to burn fat. The body’s metabolism is the process by which the body converts food and drinks into energy. Several studies find that caffeine in coffee boosts the metabolic rate and stimulates the process of lipolysis, which is when your body breaks down fat stores for energy.
Harmful Effects of Coffee
- Coffee is a diuretic. The human body uses water for most of its bodily functions, including carrying nutrients and oxygen to the cells, and eliminating waste. As a diuretic, not only does coffee get rid of water in the body, it also carries out nutrient deficiencies that can lead to serious illnesses, such as osteoporosis and adrenal fatigue.
- Caffeine in coffee causes the release of adrenaline—the powerful fight or flight hormone. Adrenaline provides the body with energy to respond to a perceived threat. To do this, the body needs to slow down essential functions such as digestion and nutrient absorption, meaning repeated coffee consumption can lead to illness.
- Coffee is addictive. Two things happen when you become addicted to a food or drink. First, the food creates symptoms of imbalance after consumption and second the symptoms can be relieved by consuming more of the same food. For instance, if you lay off coffee, you will start to get headaches due to withdrawal. Once you have that cup of coffee again, the headaches go away. It’s a destructive cycle that the body becomes addicted to.
The human body can develop sensitivities to ingredients that are consumed too often, but it thrives when you’re consuming a variety of foods. Here are some alternatives to drinking coffee that are caffeine-free and that still provide the body with numerous benefits:
- Teeccino’s Caffeine-Free Herbal Coffee is a great substitution that supports digestive health, and tastes just like coffee! It is a roasted blend of herbs, grains, fruits and nuts.
- Dandy Blend, also caffeine-free, is made up of roasted roots of dandelion, chicory and beets, and the grains of barley and rye. This gluten-free beverage also has a coffee-like flavour and contains over 50 trace minerals in each cup!
- You can also use dandelion root to make your own liver and digestion-boosting beverage! Grind the fresh roots and bake them on a cookie sheet at 250°F for 2 hours with the oven door slightly ajar. Stir them frequently to ensure they are drying evenly then store in a jar. Use 1 tbsp. for every cup of water and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Matcha, a powerful green tea powder, contains copious amounts of antioxidants and l-theanine, which promotes concentration and focus. Matcha does contain about ¼ of the caffeine content in coffee, but because it is slow-released, it provides the body with long-lasting energy without the crashing and jittery effects.
One of the most important aspects of living a healthy life is balance. Reducing coffee consumption and fuelling your body with alternatives will not only help bring your body back to balance, and support optimal health and functioning, it will allow you to take advantage of its health benefits without falling victim to its addictive properties.