My general compromise for a person without these conditions is: 1 good quality coffee per day. What do I mean by good quality coffee? Coffee made by running water through ground coffee beans with an espresso machine, plunger etc. Instant coffee is not OK as it is high in a chemical called acrylamide which has been shown to cause nerve damage and some research suggests that it is carcinogenic (cancer causing).
Studies have shown that if you drink 1 cup of coffee daily your concentration improves. However, more than one coffee daily can reduce your ability to absorb nutrients so no more than one is the rule I impose. Personally, I can’t even drink that much. If I start having one coffee every day, after a few weeks I start to get heartburn and what I describe as a livery taste and smell on my breath. So for me, 2-3 per week is my limit.
Coffee really is a substance that can divide opinions because there are good sides to coffee or more specifically caffeine but there are also bad sides and in my opinion, the bad usually comes from over consumption. So let’s break it down to the good and the bad of that delicious black elixir.
- As stated above, one cup of coffee per day can help improve concentration and learning.
- Caffeine extracts are used in a lot of fat burning pills to increase metabolism. Studies suggest that caffeine does help with fat loss if used short term.
- Contains antioxidants
- Coffee consumption can result in deficiencies of vitamin B1 and other vital nutrients in the body
- Caffeine has been shown to contribute to insulin resistance therefore has the potential to hinder weight loss.
- Coffee can exacerbate anxiety, hot flushes, migraines and long term over use can lead to dysfunction of the adrenal gland.
- Coffee increases blood pressure
Now, you've probably noticed that I've missed one important point from my good list and the main reason why most people tell me they drink coffee; to wake up in the morning. The reason I haven’t added it to the list is because I don’t agree with it. I understand that it feels like coffee is the only thing that gets your brain started in the morning and you just can’t function until you've had a cup but you’re wrong.Caffeine is addictive and this is your addiction talking.
Out of the patients I’ve taken off coffee, whether it’s for a 6 week cleanse or because of a medical condition, 99% of them tell me that they feel better when they’re off coffee, once they’ve made it through the withdrawals of course. Their energy is better and lasts longer, their bowel function becomes more regular, solid and less urgent, their appetite is more balanced and their general feeling of well-being is improved. If you think you’re not addicted, why not stop for 2 weeks and see how you go?
Do you really like the taste of coffee but want to cut out the caffeine? Lots of decaffeinated coffees are made by using chemicals to strip out the caffeine which is not ideal. But you can get decaffeinated coffee that has had the caffeine removed using a Swiss method that is natural (the green beans are immersed in water until there is only 1% caffeine remaining). I recently came across Adelaide company Baristador coffee who make organic coffee in three levels of Swiss decaffeination 70%, 30% and 1% (Decaf). I have been trialing the 1% and 30%. Both are delicious and I have noticed that I am not left feeling dehydrated, jittery or “livery” - this is exciting!
So, you’ve decided your coffee intake is acceptable, you’re not addicted and you’re happy to just have one cup per day. The next question is when is the best time to drink your one cup of coffee per day? I recommend no coffee after midday.
If you are using coffee/caffeine to enhance your performance at the gym then the research points towards drinking coffee before you work out. This is supposed to increase your energy and make you burn more calories. As we know, coffee increases blood pressure as does intensive exercise so I would not recommend this practice for you if you have high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, please speak to your health care practitioner before using coffee to enhance your work out.
I think, in the morning, with or after breakfast is a pretty reasonable time to have your coffee. On an empty stomach you may find that it makes you jittery so ensure you have something else in your belly. And my number one rule when it comes to drinking coffee – for every cup of coffee you must add an extra glass of water (in addition to your daily requirement) as coffee is dehydrating and must be processed by the body so let’s help it out by flushing the body with pure water to hydrate the cells and aid detoxification.
The info above is my general advice for fit and healthy people. If you have any medical conditions please speak to your Naturopath or health care provider to get a specific answer as to whether you should be drinking coffee or not.