The coffee debate is one that has been raging for decades. Some health authorities will tell you it’s healthy, others will tell you it’s not. Many advocate a cup or two a day is fine, but over that and it can start to create issues. With such a fervently loved beverage, it can be very difficult to take an unbiased view towards the subject since it is so addicting and often tied to the energy and happiness of a person’s day.
Fortunately, I don’t love or hate coffee so my conclusions are not rooted in deep emotions. Having said that I don’t drink it due to the fact that I am fully aware it does nothing to accelerate my wellness on a day to day basis. In fact, I discovered many years ago it does quite the opposite. I’ve also never had anyone I got off coffee do anything but improve their health, and that speaks volumes.
Of course, I realize that anything but a rave review for coffee lovers is going to be met with rejection and anger. However, that doesn’t deter me from presenting a well balanced article based on research and empirical evidence with coffee over a period of 10 years.
So hang on tight, grab a…drink, and leave your pride and bias on the shelf as I help you decide whether coffee is an acceptable beverage for you.
The benefits of drinking coffee
There has been no shortage of research that indicates that coffee consumption has some benefits, within a one to two cup a day limit. These benefits include:
- Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Protective effect against type 2 diabetes
- Reduces risk of stroke
- Enhanced brain function
- Improved athletic performance
Many of these benefits are attributed to coffee’s high antioxidant content.
Antioxidants are organic compounds such as vitamin A, C, and E, as well as beta carotene, lycopene and selenium, which are found in foods. Antioxidants are beneficial to the human body as they are scavengers of free radicals, which cause many systemic and health debilitating issues, such as chronic inflammation.
Coffee has also been shown to temporarily elevate energy and mood, as well as burn calories. Elson M. Haas M.D., author of The New Detox Diet states:
“A dosage of 50 to 100 mg caffeine, the amount in one cup of coffee, will produce a temporary increase in mental clarity and energy levels while simultaneously reducing drowsiness. It also improves muscular-coordinated work activity, such as typing. Through its CNS stimulation, caffeine increases brain activity; however, it also stimulates the cardiovascular system, raising blood pressure and heart rate. It generally speeds up our body by increasing our basal metabolic rate (BMR), which burns more calories. Caffeine also increases respiratory rates, and for people with tight airways, it can open breathing passages. Caffeine is also a diuretic and a mild laxative.”
This is certainly the good news for coffee drinkers, but now, what about the side effects?
The dangers of drinking coffee
There has been plenty of empirical data that shows that coffee consumption is not health promoting. Many doctor visits typically end with “try cutting back on the coffee” when patients exhibit the following symptoms:
- Caffeine jitters and crash
- Inability to sleep properly
- Kidney and bladder problems (due to the diuretic effects of the caffeine)
- Adrenal fatigue, which is caused by stimulation and suppression of various hormones, that ultimately leads to severe hormonal imbalance and more serious health issues like prostate and breast cancer
The most significant issue created by coffee is adrenal fatigue due to the triggering of stress hormones in your body. This triggering makes your muscles tense, elevates blood sugar, speeds up pulse and respiration rates, and increases your state of panic and alertness.
To some people, this may appear to be a good thing, but over a period of time, it is quite detrimental. Consider the following analogy by Stephen Cherniske, author of Caffeine Blues:
“Imagine you lived in a country that was always under threat of attack. No matter where you went, there was a perpetual state of alert. Not only that, but your defenses were constantly being depleted and weakened. Does that sound stressful? Caffeine produces the same effect on your body, like fighting a war on multiple fronts at the same time.”
Cherniske calls your body’s constant state of alert “caffeinism,” which is characterized by fatigue, anxiety, mood swings, sleep disturbance, irritability, and depression.
Ironically, most people drink coffee due to the energy it provides them on a daily basis. However, over the long term, it actually depletes your energy, which is what many people end up feeling after years of coffee consumption (and increasing the amount to get the desired effect). Pat Goudey, author of The Unofficial Guide to Beating Stress, states:
“Caffeine doesn’t add energy to your system, it just burns up your reserves at a faster pace. You get a short-term boost at the expense of long-term jitters and fatigue.”
But that’s not all that coffee negatively effects. Michael Murray, N.D., points out:
“Caffeine depletes the body of B vitamins, which you need for proper brain and nervous system functioning and for converting food to energy, says Michael Murray, N.D., a naturopathic physician in Seattle and author of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Getting Well Naturally. To make matters worse, it also prevents iron absorption, says Dr. Murray, which can lead to anemia, a condition in which you have too few oxygen-carrying red blood cells and which is a major contributor to fatigue.”
Mark Mayell, Author of Off the Shelf Natural Health: How To Use Herbs and Nutrients To Stay Well, piggybacks on Michael Murray’s findings, stating the following:
“Although relatively safe, long-term use (of caffeine) in excess of 250 to 300 mg daily may cause numerous health problems. Caffeine has been known to raise blood-cholesterol levels, deplete B vitamins, irritate the stomach and bladder, exhaust the adrenals, and possibly lead to breast and prostate problems.”
This may not be an issue for those who drink only one cup of coffee a day, or is it? Cherniske writes:
“Careful research conducted by the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine shows that low to moderate caffeine intake (as little as one 14-ounce mug per day) can quickly produce withdrawal symptoms,” writes Cherniske.
With withdrawal symptoms comes more chronic use. People would simply rather deal with their coffee habit, than try to deal with the headaches and migraines that can come with trying to kick the coffee habit. This roller coaster leads to long term coffee consumption, which continues to deplete the delicate adrenals, which throws hormones out of balance causing energy swings, fatigue, irritability, poor sleep, and breast and prostate issues.
So how do you make a logical, unemotional decision about your coffee intake? Start with noting the characteristics of someone who can enjoy coffee in moderation, and those who should avoid it altogether.
People who can drink coffee in moderation
There are certain people who can enjoy moderate (3-4 cups a week) coffee consumption. They are typically noted by the following characteristics:
- Emotionally and physically balanced, with little to no hormonal problems (characterized by a constant and healthy level of energy, good sleep, pleasant disposition, and healthy weight).
- Consume a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables (75% or more), that creates an optimal body pH and provides an abundance of various vitamins and minerals (to offset the acidity of coffee, and vitamin and mineral depletion).
- Consumes adequate amounts of quality water, that offsets the dehydration caused by the diuretic effects of caffeine.
With these characteristics in place, the word moderation is still in effect. From the Textbook of Natural Medicine by Joseph E. Pizzorno and Michael T. Murray:
“Although acute caffeine consumption provides stimulation, regular caffeine intake may actually lead to chronic fatigue. While mice fed one dose of caffeine demonstrated significant increases in their swimming capacity, when the dose of caffeine was given for 6 weeks, a significant decrease in swimming capacity was observed.”
Due to this and many other observations, it’s crucial that your caffeine uptake is limited.
It should be also noted, that drinking non-organic coffee and adding refined sugars, conventional dairy, or artificial sweeteners puts a serious damper on any benefits you are receiving from your coffee. So go organic and black and use healthier sugars and alternative dairy solutions if you need to add to it.
People who should limit or eliminate coffee
There are also certain people who should limit or drop the habit altogether (or look for alternatives that limit the uptake of caffeine). They are typically noted by the following characteristics:
- Emotionally and physically unbalanced, with more prevalent hormonal (adrenal) problems (characterized by poor energy or swings, inconsistent sleep, crankiness or irritability, anxiety, and an unhealthy weight).
- Consume a diet rich in grains, dairy, and meat (75% or more), that creates an acidic body pH.
- Consumes inadequate amounts of quality water, exacerbating dehydration.
- Has digestive issues, signalled by stomach pain, flatulence, bloating, and constipation (less than 1 well formed bowel movement a day).
- Frequent urination, especially overnight.
- Can’t start a day without coffee (signs of addiction).
How do you know if you have adrenal problems? Consider the following symptoms:
- Morning fatigue – you can’t seem to ‘wake up’ for the first couple hours without caffeine
- Mid-to-late afternoon low
- Sleepy at 9 to 10 p.m., but you often resist going to sleep
- You get second wind to stay up past 11 p.m., and usually end up going to sleep closer to 1 a.m.
- Crave foods high in salt and fat (fast food is a common choice).
- Lack of energy
- Can’t handle stress
- Weak muscles
- Light headed when getting up from sitting or laying down
- Decreased sex drive
- Frequent sighing
If you find you resonate with these symptoms, it may be time to ditch the coffee. Be aware that coming off it systematically is your best bet (dropping the amount you drink each week), but if you choose cold turkey, then factor in approximately 3 days of caffeine withdrawals (headaches, sluggish, hormonal imbalances) before the residual effects are cleared from your system. Drink plenty of clean water and support your liver during this time.
The best way to use coffee
Perhaps not the most enjoyable way you intended to use coffee, but certainly the most healthy, is a coffee enema. This procedure is a powerful detoxifier, due to compounds in coffee that stimulate the liver to produce glutathione S-transferase, a chemical that is known to be a master detoxifier. This chemical binds to toxins and these toxins are then eliminated out of the body alongside the coffee.
Coffee enemas can be quite beneficial for your health when done properly. Some of the benefits include:
- Reducing systemic toxicity up to 700 percent
- Cleansing and healing the colon and digestive tracts, and improving peristaltic action
- Boosts energy levels and increases mental clarity and mood
- Helps eliminate parasites and candida
- Helps detoxify and repair liver damage
- Relieves chronic pain, eases die off symptoms related to cleansing and detoxifying regimens
- Heals and prevents chronic illness
I hope I provided you with some intimate insight into deciding whether the coffee habit is serving your health, or draining it. There are certainly many considerations to make, including how addicted (can you go a few days without it) you are to coffee. The more addicted you are, the stronger the indication that you should start to eliminate it.
If you wish to make the transition easier and be full of energy WITHOUT the forced stimulant, check into the THRIVE online health program. It will help you feel the best you ever have, and give you the support to live the healthy lifestyle that creates a body and mind you love!
Sources for this article include: