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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