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Coffee - Friend or Foe?

There's quite a bit of info out there about coffee. Some say it's good and some say it's bad. But, like all other nutrition info being sprawled across the internet, how do you determine what's right for YOU?

If you're reading this, I imagine you or a loved one are an avid coffee drinker or straight-up caffeine addict and you want to know - 'do I have to give up my favourite drink in order to get healthy?'

Maybe, but perhaps not. Let’s delve a little further. The key things to consider are, when you have your coffee, how much of it you drink, what type you choose, and what your health looks like currently. Below I delve into the advantages and disadvantages of coffee to help you decide what's right for you.

Positives of Coffee

Coffee can be favourable in many ways. Here are some of the upsides of having one good quality coffee a day.

  • Coffee is high in antioxidants and helps combat free radical damage in the body.

  • The bitter properties of coffee stimulate receptors in the gut and liver to promote digestive enzyme release and proper breakdown of food.

  • Coffee is a stimulant, and so great for boosting cognitive function and metabolism.

  • Between meals (or when intermittent fasting), the polyphenols in black coffee encourage our cells to recycle and go through autophagy (the body's way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells).

  • Coffee enhances circulation which ensures that blood and oxygen continuously flow throughout the body, allowing every organ to function properly.

  • Caffeine can improve memory, decrease fatigue and has even been found to lower the risk of depression.

Downsides Of Coffee

Many people love the feeling, the taste, and the ritual that is associated with having a coffee. But does your body really love it?⁣⁣ Most of the disadvantages of coffee revolve around its caffeine content and stimulating nature.

  • Coffee isn’t ideal for people suffering from conditions associated with sex hormone imbalances linked to oestrogen dominance, as it can compound the issue.

  • Caffeine isn’t recommended for people with thyroid issues such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis or hypothyroidism

  • Caffeine will exacerbate issues in people with nervous system or adrenal gland issues. Ie. if you're stressed, burnt out or anxious.

  • Caffeine as well all know, can interfere with sleep in a big way.

  • Sensitive individuals find that their blood glucose levels rise after coffee consumption which is not ideal if you have insulin resistance or diabetes.

  • Coffee is one of the most highly sprayed plants.

  • Instant coffee has more acrylamide (a toxic substance that results from heating) than brewed coffee.

  • Instant coffee contains fewer nutrients and antioxidants than brewed versions.

  • Most shop-bought caffeinated drinks (from cafés like Starbucks) are loaded with cream, syrups, sugar and flavourings - not exactly a wholesome meal.

  • Decaffeinated coffee products require chemicals to remove the caffeine.

You may have tried coming off coffee only to feel headachey, grumpy, foggy and fatigued.⁣⁣

Why Does This Happen?⁣⁣

Caffeine is absorbed into our bloodstream and because it's both water and fat-soluble it can enter our brain via our blood-brain barrier. ⁣⁣This is relevant because caffeine is similar in structure to a molecule in our brain called adenosine.

Adenosine is what drives our desire for sleep. When we run out of energy from food, adenosine signals our body to get tired so that we can rebuild our energy stores.

Because caffeine and adenosine are so similar, caffeine can actually latch onto the same receptors as adenosine uses and this does two things. It prevents our own adenosine from latching on and it stops adenosine from driving our need for sleep.

It also results in two other things.

The adenosine that's left floating around your brain with no where to go causes your adrenal glands (stress glands) to release adrenaline, giving you an even bigger buzz, or in some people, anxiety!⁣⁣ In response to this, your brain cells grow more adenosine receptors in an attempt to counteract the caffeine flooding the brain. Which is why over time, the amount of caffeine that once had an effect on you, no longer will. Ie. As you grow more adenosine receptors, you will require more caffeine molecules to latch onto and achieve the caffeine buzz/high that coffee brings. ⁣⁣

When you stop drinking coffee, your brain now has an artificially higher amount of adenosine receptors but no caffeine latching on which is what's responsible for the withdrawal symptoms people experience. ⁣⁣

Thankfully if you can push through and go without coffee for 1-2 weeks, your body will readjust and naturally reduce the number of adenosine receptors on your brain cells.

Caffeine-free Coffee Alternatives

Healthier, caffeine-free options are available if you think you need to get a coffee fix:

  • Rooibos (red bush tea)

  • Dandelion root with chicory

  • Not Coffee. TM

  • Turmeric latte

  • Super mushroom drink like that from Four Sigmatic.

  • Cacao

  • Lover Latte (find this in the Kiyah Store)

Alternatively, for a third of the amount of caffeine and still, plenty of antioxidant power, go for a Golden Turmeric Chai, matcha latte or herbal white tea. Nb. Good quality matcha should be bright green in colour!

Detoxing from coffee can be a difficult process, especially if you have more than 1 coffee per day.

The trick is to substitute with Green Tea or Matcha which will help the weaning process. The caffeine content is 'balanced out' by the amino acid theanine which reduces the addictive aspects and any anxiety. After a week you can safely stop the green tea without any real caffeine withdrawals.

If you are lucky enough not to suffer with anxiety, digestive, thyroid, sleep or hormone imbalances, then I would say you're fine to have your coffee and drink it too!

Just a couple of tips to make sure your enjoyment of coffee doesn't negatively impact your health:

  • Enjoy it during the first half of your day

  • Opt for organic and brewed over instant varieties

  • Skip the cream and go for a plant-based milk instead

  • Have it away from meals to protect your wholesome diet from tannins that can bind to your minerals and create deficiencies


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