Obviously, everyone is an individual. Coffee can be good for you and bad for your spouse because we all react differently to coffee. It's a matter of your genetics, your gut bacteria profile and how much coffee you're used to drinking.
Let's look at caffeine metabolism, the effects it has on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.
NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains many things over and above caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill - and decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine though it still contains some.
Not all people metabolize caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolize caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.
About half of us are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel "wired" for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half are "fast" metabolizers of caffeine - getting energy and increased alertness then back to normal a few hours later.
This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much - because we’re all different!
The Effects of Coffee (and Caffeine) on Mind and Body
NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.
So, as I said earlier, the effects that coffee has on the mind and body differ due to our metabolism. It also has to do with our body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects more strongly than people who have coffee every day.
Here’s a list of these effects (that usually decrease with long-term use):
New research is also shining a light on how coffee affects our gut bacteria. A recent German study found that coffee beverages contain fiber - indigestible polysaccharides - that feed our good bacteria and help them produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA). These SCFAs are very important for colon health as they are the primary energy source for colonic cells and have anti-carcinogenc and anti-inflammatory properties.
So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.
Coffee and health risks
There are a ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.
Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:
Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).
NOTE: What’s most important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.
Should You Drink Coffee or Not?
There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.
Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:
If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:
Depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, I recommend eliminating it for a while and see the difference.
Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Latte
3 tbsp coconut milk or milk kefir
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pumpkin puree
½ tsp maple syrup (optional)
1 cup organic coffee (decaf if preferred)
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until creamy. Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can also use tea instead of milk if you prefer.
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It Takes Guts Nutrition
Katanne Belisle RHN
Gut Health Specialist
Whitehorse, YT, CAN
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"I was plagued by a myriad of digestive and inflammatory issues and after months of discomfort I was fortunate enough to meet Katanne. Her insight, intuition, knowledge and caring attention has made it possible for me to heal and thrive with a new understanding of the food I eat. I am now healthier, happier and have more energy than I have had in quite some time. " ~ Steve T.
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