Is coffee an addiction or a healthy drink?

Posted on: 6th February, 2017

Category: Health

Contributor: Hannah Dare

Let’s face it: many of us love our coffee! But is it a guilty pleasure or a healthy drink that is good for us? It feels like one day we see studies that support coffee and the next day we see 10 reasons why coffee is bad! What’s the truth about this aromatic beverage that so many of us love? I’ve been reading some very interesting articles on coffee by Dr Mark Hyman (an American Physician). Coffee contains antioxidants and can be the number one source of antioxidants in the modern diet (a sad state of affairs considering we ought to be eating six to nine portions of antioxidant rich fruit and veg every day).

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology showed improvements in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and cholesterol when mice consumed coffee and fat together. (More on that combo in a minute.) They also found that coffee could help reduce gut permeability or leaky gut.

Among its other benefits, studies show coffee decreases your risk for type 2 diabetes, lowers cancer risk and improves mood and memory. Coffee can also boost metabolism and sports performance.

However, on the other hand, coffee can become highly addictive, altering stress hormones while making you feel simultaneously wired and tired.

When to Avoid Coffee

Before jumping to conclusions on the benefits or otherwise of coffee, it’s important to remember it’s not just about the coffee. The way each individual responds to coffee is often determined by genetics that affect caffeine metabolism. For one person, a cup could have them bouncing off the walls, while another person can have a triple espresso at dinner and fall fast asleep easily.

In other words, everyone is different and we all experience coffee’s effects differently. For some it seems to have health benefits while for others suffering from adrenal fatigue, coffee could easily become dangerous, as it gives a false sense of energy when what you really need is rest.

Constituents in coffee can also interfere with normal drug metabolism and liver detoxification, making it difficult for your liver to regulate the normal detoxification process. This is something to particularly take into consideration after all the excesses of the Christmas season!

Sometimes, people seem to substitute coffee for real food, but coffee is never a good substitute for meals, as it does not contain any nutrients. Never ignore your hunger and eat regularly to prevent low blood sugar levels.

If you need coffee every day to feel motivated or even function, you have a coffee addiction. If you have withdrawal symptoms and headaches from stopping coffee or feel like you can’t live without it, you are biologically addicted to it. There’s also a big chance your stress hormones are out of whack and need resetting. Taking a three-week break in this situation is an excellent idea.

How to Quit Coffee

The best way to wean off coffee is switching from drinking multiple cups to just one cup and eventually half a cup. You might also switch to green tea or herbal teas and warm lemon water.

As with any detox plan, drink adequate amounts of water and get plenty of rest during this time. I also suggest regular exercise to stabilise energy levels. Should you get irritable or have difficulty sleeping, supplement with 200 to 500 mg of magnesium citrate before bed.

If you can handle it, remove coffee from your diet for three weeks and add it back in slowly. Be attentive to how you feel once you reintroduce coffee. Pay attention to your energy levels, symptoms (like anxiety or jittery feelings) or changes in digestion.

In other words, monitor how you personally respond to coffee- and be honest with yourself!

It’s perfectly fine if you realise coffee just does not work for you. Other health-friendly drinks include green tea or non-coffee-based lattes using Matcha for example. Matcha also has very high levels of antioxidants without quite the same caffeine hit; and actually contains L-Theanine, which is calming and seems to balance out the caffeine.

According to Dr Hyman, if you find you can occasionally tolerate coffee, avoid adding milk and sugar. He argues that these two culprits do more damage than the actual coffee! I would add to that – make sure your coffee’s grow organically, and avoid most instant coffees and decaffeinated coffees (unless they are organic) as they contain seriously harmful chemicals.

Alternately, try adding healthy fat to your coffee. Once people taste the creamy, frothy goodness of fat blended with coffee, they don’t miss milk at all. You’ve probably heard of Bulletproof® Coffee, which blends MCT oil or coconut oil and a bit of butter with high-quality, organic coffee.  If you are a vegan, try adding one tablespoon of smooth cashew butter for the creamy texture.

I love Bulletproof coffee, and it keeps me satiated for hours, cuts cravings and keeps my brain extremely sharp. You can also drink this before exercise for steady energy levels without coffee’s crash.

If you want to try a Matcha Latte or a Bullet Proof Coffee, call in to us in Organico Cafe and we will be delighted to help!

If you are trying to cut down on sugar and get your weight under control this January, call in to any Healthfood shop that stocks Veridian and have a look at their Seven Day Detox Plan. The supplement is Chromium and Cinnamon, which helps with cravings, and they have a clever App, which takes you through every day of the detox.

Stay well folks!

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