Health moderation: Coffee consumption conundrum

As promised, health moderation series is off to a start, filled with sarcasm and just enough research and data to appease even the most critical of individuals and hopefully less paranoia sprinkled in. Coffee is the topic of this conversation, and considering so many conversations, relationships and life events revolve around coffee dates and meetings, it just makes sense to start with it first. 

I’ll bet half of you expect that I will say that coffee is the devil and you should never drink it. Here’s where you are wrong. This a moderation series. I’m going to list the pros and cons to coffee consumption, and we can make some moderate decisions about this intervention.

Pros

  • High antioxidant value, especially when made with organic beans from a fair trade source
  • Supports liver and gallbladder emulsification of fats. This is important in cholesterol levels as excess fat can be properly broken into smaller pieces to move out into the colon. Has been found to assist in liver regeneration in those with liver disease to repair the hepatocytes (liver cells) and their drainage.
  • Prevents constipation. Encourages the passive contraction of the colon, increasing motility (movement)
  • May protect against colon cancer due to the presence of antioxidant molecules cafestol, kahweol, melanoidins, polyphenols to name a few…especially in smokers
  • Increases metabolism and the liberation of energy and sustains and provides energy for intense physical activity, and improves the building of muscle
  • When consumed in a drip coffeemaker with a filter, reduces the incidence of exposure to coffee bean oils and does not contribute as much to cholesterol. A higher proportion of caffeine is available however in this instance.
  • Reduces propensity for dementia and dementia-​like conditions (very preliminary research, this is not yet confirmed)

Cons

  • If adrenal fatigue is present, then relying on coffee and its caffeine content as a source energy support actually depletes the gland, and causes it to be stimulated via epinephrine and norepinephrine rather than nourishing this system. Will also trigger anxiety in susceptible individuals.
  • Addictive. Caffeine is a drug, and cannot be cut out without weaning. Side-​effects include headaches, fatigue, and grouchiness, among others!
  • For individuals with looser stools by nature, either due to Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, or gallbladder deficiencies, coffee will cause increased bowel movements and cramping. This is not helpful for these individuals!
  • When consumed as espresso, the coffee bean oils can contribute to increased cholesterol (see the directly opposing view above)
  • When abused as a weight loss tool, speeding up the metabolism before a workout or on fad diets will increase metabolism but not be a sustainable source of change. Green coffee extract, as an example, does work to support weight loss but inevitably if you do not change eating and maintain healthy physical activity
  • Those with high blood pressure, coffee increases blood pressure and is a cardiovascular risk. For those with vibrillation conditions, it will increase the opportunity for episodes (fluttering heart, the heart skipping a beat etc)
  • Is often used as a vehicle to consume sugar and cream!

So…what have we learned about coffee?

Clearly there is an individuality to who can drink coffee, when, how and why.

Yes, there is caffeine. Yes, caffeine is a stimulant and it will cause our adrenaline system to be activated. If we are more anxious by nature, have high blood pressure, or are adrenal compromised it may not be the best choice. When brewed as espresso, coffee bean oils can increase our cholesterol, which depending on the person, can be a negative.

There are also antioxidants and polyphenol compounds in coffee. Antioxidants and polyphenol are known to prevent cancer, and are demonstrating that is protective for colon and some female cancers (endometrial) in nature.

So, what do I think about coffee for health?

The antioxidant potential of coffee is very beneficial. One cup a day is really not that big an issue, depending on your health history.

Moderate coffee consumption is:

A person who likes coffee, who has a moderate lifestyle, drinks a cup daily with no cream and little to no sugar in a filtered drip.

Moderate coffee consumption also includes not having the following health concerns:

  1. If you are intensely fatigued and snap at people without your caffeine fix, coffee is probably keeping you somewhat sane but might not be the long-​term solution for you.
  2. If you have digestive troubles where you have more diarrhea and inflammation in your bowel, it is best to be moderate in your coffee consumption at best, making sure to be doing other things to support your digestive tract. If a history of colon cancer is added to these symptoms, then other preventative things should be used.
  3. If you have intense anxiety, coffee is not the beverage for you.
  4. If you have high blood pressure where stress and caffeine can change your blood pressure and medication you may be taking for this blood pressure, you need to be careful how much coffee you consume. This may include a half cup every other day, or a few times a week.
In summary, coffee does have some good benefits but like everything, may not your choice of beverage if you have health concerns that may be limiting for you. The choice is ultimately yours, but let’s not glorify or shame coffee itself!
A cup of coffee a day?

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