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Spilling the Beans on Caffeine: The Truth About Coffee ☕

Let me start by saying that I enjoy a daily cup of coffee. It’s part of my routine and I love starting my day with a breakfast blend or strong cup of Italian or French roast.

Now, let me ask you –

What do you think is the most addictive drug in the world?

There are more people addicted to caffeine worldwide than any other drug. Caffeine is considered a drug, as it has neurologic, or psychoactive properties. If you have ever tried to stop drinking caffeine, you likely have also experienced the withdrawal side effects, such as headaches, drowsiness, loss of concentration. These properties and the associated withdrawal symptoms have led to many reports and claims that coffee should be avoided and can cause negative effects on health, including risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Do I make my clients give up caffeine?

When I start functional wellness program with a new client, we begin with a detox for several reasons. As part of any detox, I do encourage my clients to eliminate caffeine and coffee, as caffeine can interfere with the detox process, especially in the liver and brain. I also advise my clients to absolutely avoid caffeine in other foods and drinks, especially soft drinks (this is a subject for another time, just take my word for it!).

Depending upon your genetics, caffeine can last for an extended amount of time in your system, and interfere with sleep, even if consumed earlier in the day. Caffeine can also mix poorly with alcohol, which together can have some very serious consequences.

In addition to the claims of potential long-term impacts of caffeine and the interference with detox and sleep, caffeine can impact the way the body handles other drugs – not just alcohol. One of our goals in our practice is to try to remove as many, if not all medications, during our programs…so, as our clients progress, this interaction becomes less and less important.

Is coffee all bad?

We should also note (and I have written about this in the past), that there are many chemicals in coffee other than caffeine, and it seems that most may have a benefit.

The one chemical that does not have a benefit (cafestol), is usually filtered out during the coffee brewing process – but it IS present in unfiltered (french press, espresso and Turkish) coffee. Cafestol can have what are proven to be negative effects, such as raising cholesterol levels.

What does this mean?

As I mentioned earlier, like many people (85% of adults in the US consume caffeine daily), I love a cup of coffee (and tea) at least on a daily basis, and I was happy to see a very in depth article in the New England Journal of Medicine (July 2020), discussing coffee, caffeine and health.

Some of the article’s highlights:

The beneficial effects of low or moderate coffee intake include:

  • Improved alertness, reduced fatigue, assist in pain relief Reduction of appetite, increased metabolism

  • Improved sensitivity to insulin, reduced risk of type 2 Diabetes

  • Reduced risk of melanoma, other skin cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and endometrial cancer, despite earlier reports. Improved liver function, less scar tissue and cirrhosis, reduced risk of gallstones and kidney stones

  • Reduced risk of Parkinson’s (caffeine), depression and suicide Coffee (with or without caffeine) is associated with lower mortality in general

  • Normally brewed coffee in general is NOT associated with increased cardiovascular risk, hypertension, or cancer

Having said all of this, coffee apparently has more beneficial than dangerous affects.

This DOES NOT mean that drinking coffee, especially in large quantities, will make you healthy. Coffee consumption along with good health habits and lifestyle assist your quest for health and vitality.

So…pick your favorite brew (when you are done with detox and balancing your body and hormones), brew coffee with filters, keep it to less than four cups daily, and avoid caffeine later in the day.

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