Coffee often gets a bad rap. In the health industry, many gurus report on the problems associated with coffee, things like dehydration and poor sleep. However, other groups tout coffee as a healthy drink full of antioxidants. So, whether you love coffee or not, I’m here to talk about coffee pros and cons!
If you like coffee, you probably have your favorite brands or coffee shop roasts. In my office, most people like Starbucks and hate Tim Horton’s. When I talk to other friends, though, they love Tim Horton’s and hate Starbucks. Coffee is all about the taste!
Sometimes I read other holistic nutrition consultants’ posts and feel guilty. Most of them avoid coffee and discuss how bad it is for you. I’m actually left feeling quite shameful for my own love of coffee! I admit to having coffee most mornings, and I absolutely covet my weekend morning McDonald’s coffees. They’re always black, so no sugar or cream, and they taste to good!
Is coffee okay to drink or not? Let’s explore coffee pros and cons!
Coffee Does Not Equal Caffeine
Just to set the record straight, coffee is not 100% caffeine. Nor is it the only source of caffeine.
Coffee contains between 50 and 400 mg of caffeine per cup, depending on the roast and type. Lighter roasts have more caffeine than darker roasts, and espresso has the smallest amount of caffeine, besides decaf.
Coffee just happens to be one of the most popular way for people to consume caffeine, a stimulant found in other things like black and green tea, chocolate, cacao powder, and dark colored sodas (even diet sodas).
In addition to the caffeine, coffee has antioxidants (only if you drink it black though) that help tame free radicals to prevent inflammation and cancer. Coffee also gives you a bit of water with each cup too.
Some of the coffee pros and cons can be attributed to how your body reacts to caffeine.
Did you know that caffeine can metabolize, or break down, up to 40 times faster in some people than in others?
It’s this rate of metabolism that helps identify coffee pros and cons. For people who love coffee and are able to metabolize it quickly, few negative side effects actually show up for them.
Roughly half the population are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine. These people tend to feel wired for up to 9 hours after a cup of coffee! They also feel jittery, get heart palpitations and have trouble sleeping.
The other half of the population are “fast” metabolizers, and feel normal within a few hours after having caffeine.
The rate at which you metabolize caffeine is one factor in coffee pros and cons when it comes to your health. And one of the reasons health and wellness experts can’t agree on whether or not coffee is good for you!
Ladies – you probably metabolism caffeine slower than men. The liver uses the same detoxification pathways to detoxify estrogens as it does to detoxify caffeine. This is one thing to keep in mind, especially if you’re dealing with sleep issues or chronic fatigue.
Coffee Pros and Cons with Fatigue
It may seem counterintuitive but coffee can actually make your fatigue worse!
There are a couple of reasons for this, ones that definitely need to be factored in when looking at your health complaints.
One of the pros of coffee is that it stimulates your nervous system, your brain and your adrenals to wake you up. Cortisol and adrenaline are released to help make you feel more alert and focused.
Unfortunately, if you’re living which chronic exhaustion or adrenal fatigue, that jolt of cortisol can actually make your symptoms worse.
Over time, your body becomes adapted to the effects of caffeine. This means that each time you consume coffee, your adrenals need to pump out a little bit more cortisol for the same effect. You then feel the need for more coffee than you used to have and you end up overstimulating your adrenals.
Extreme fatigue hits when your body just stops responding to caffeine – your adrenals no longer pump out cortisol and your body just crashes.
Effects of Coffee and Caffeine On Your Mind and Body
As we age, most people tend to have less nutritional stores available to keep organs healthy. Over time, your body may become more sensitive to caffeine in general.
Problems associated with caffeine sensitivity include poor detoxification of caffeine, sleep disturbances, adrenal dysfunction and dehydration.
Since we’re talking about coffee pros and cons, let’s just cover a few of the positive effects too!
IF your body can metabolize caffeine well, caffeine helps stimulate the brain, boost metabolism and boost your energy and exercise performance. The caveat for these, though, is that, again, over time, your body stops responding to caffeine. And these positive effects no longer happen.
Caffeine can also decrease your level of B vitamins, which are critical for optimal adrenal health.
Are There Health Risks With Coffee?
Many coffee pros and cons come from studies done that identify health risks to drinking too much of it.
As I mentioned, black coffee is rich in antioxidants, which help prevent diseases like heart attack and cancer. The antioxidants are thought to help lower your risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well as for Type II diabetes.
However, there is some evidence that large amounts of coffee could lead to problems like caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (flu-like fatigue, headache, irritability), as well as problems with sleep.
Please keep in mind, though, that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors affecting your risk of disease and illness. Drinking lots and lots of coffee for its antioxidants isn’t going to cancel out the health problems associated with too much refined sugar!
Who Should Stay Away From Coffee
Essentially, if you suspect or know you have adrenal dysfunction, adrenal fatigue or chronic fatigue, you should stay away from all forms of caffeine.
If you have arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), deal with anxiety, have issues with sleep and / or are pregnant, you should consider keeping your coffee intake to 1 cup per day or less.
As I always say, listen to YOUR body to determine how well it manages caffeine. Coffee pros and cons aside, your body may naturally love caffeine. Or it may cringe every time you buy a cup. Keep a journal to see how your body reacts to coffee to help identify your ideal amount.
Coffee pros and cons are confusing, even for me. Like I mentioned above, I feel ashamed for my enjoyment of my weekend McDonald’s coffee. I could go all week without coffee but I LOVE my weekend ones!
So I am not here to make you feel bad for loving or hating coffee. How your body metabolizes caffeine is really the key to understanding whether or not you should be drinking coffee. And, your current health state is an important factor to pay attention to.
To help combat any ill effects from coffee, make sure your diet is rich in whole foods, including healthy fats and fresh berries!