Today’s post is all about coffee! I LOVE coffee so much and anyone that knows me personally knows that it plays a big role in my life. I wake up excited for my morning coffee, and if I am ever going away or on a trip I always scout out the coffee scene beforehand.
Coffee and caffeine intake is debated topic within nutrition, and today we are looking at the health effects of coffee. Just like most areas of nutrition, coffee does not impact everyone in the same way. Some people feel wonderful drinking coffee, while others feel jittery, nauseous or just simply not great. The quality, quantity and timing of coffee can also make a difference with how we feel and even the health outcomes.
Below I outlined some main topic:
COFFEE + HEALTH
Coffee consumption has been linked to gastritis and acid reflux. Coffee may increase the risk for gastritis, as well as irritate the esophagus and trigger acid reflux. The stimulating effect of coffee may also be a trigger for IBS or any inflammatory condition of the digestive lining. If you feel coffee may be making your digestive systems worse, try both decaf and omit coffee for one week to see if you notice a difference.
Coffee has been taken out of World Health Organization as a carcinogenic, and there is actually a potential antioxidant benefit. Substances in coffee called chlorogenic acid and polyphenols, may act as an antioxidant, which can help protect cells in the body.
Coffee has been known to potentially increase blood pressure, but interestingly the evidence is conflicting and it may have both effects. The effect of coffee on blood pressure, may not come from caffeine but from other various substances in coffee ( of which there are many!). The effect of blood pressure may also be impacted by how frequently you drink coffee. Habitual coffee drinkers, who drink a bit of coffee every day may be affected by caffeine less than those who drink coffee infrequently or large amounts at a time.
Cholesterol may play a role in raising cholesterol levels, however it may be due to a substance called cafestol, not the caffeine. Cafestol may affect our LDL (low density lipoproteins – what we want to try and decrease). Interestingly, paper filtered coffee and instant coffee have the least amount of cafestol, compared to french press and Turkish coffee.
Coffee can interfere with sleep, especially when we have it after noon. Adenosine is a hormone that helps to regulate sleep. The build up of adenosine can increase arousal in our brain (aka feeling awake). Adenosine and caffeine have the same structure, and each of their molecules fit into the same receptors. When we consume caffeine, this can block the adenosine molecules from properly binding to the receptors, leading to a higher amount of adenosine floating around the brain. This can contribute to us feeling awake, even with a lack of sleep.
Another way that coffee can interfere with sleep, is explained below.
In addition, caffeine has incredible effects on other neurotransmitters and hormones in our body, such as dopamine and adrenaline. The production of both chemicals is stimulated when caffeine enters the body. Dopamine, which falls under the “happy brain chemicals” group, makes us happy and improves our mood. Whereas, adrenaline, the “super hero hormone” or the “fight or flight” hormone, causes many physiological changes, such as an increased heart rate, an increase in blood pressure, an increased respiratory rate, and an increase of blood supply to the muscles. As you can probably tell, too much adrenaline contributes to anxiety.
Coffee can inhibit the absorption and increase the excretion of certain vitamins and minerals. Most known are B6, iron, calcium and magnesium. This can have an impact for those with anemia/low iron and crease an increase risk for osteoporosis. Moderation is key here, and the risk generally lies in those who drink more than 3 cups of coffee per day.
A NOTE ON QUALITY AND QUANTITY
It is generally recommended to stay under 400 mg of caffeine per day. It is also generally advised that pregnant woman drink no more than 300mg per day, but generally recommended to stick to 100 mg per day. To give you an idea, one cup of coffee contains roughly 100 mg. This compares to a cup of black or green tea, which has about 50 mg of caffeine, and chocolate, which has about 20 mg of caffeine.
As stated earlier, coffee metabolizes at different rates for everyone. However, the average adult metabolizes caffeine within 3-5 hours. This means that drinking coffee in smaller amounts, at different times throughout the day can be better than all at once.
The quality of the coffee is another thing of note. Coffee beans are typically known as a highly sprayed crop, meaning that you are potentially ingesting pesticide/herbicide sprays with your beans. Organic coffee may be better for you than conventionally grown coffee beans.
‘Fair trade’ is another phrase that is used when talking about the quality of coffee. Coffee beans are a highly exported agriculture product, and fair trade means that the farmers were paid fair wages, and treated properly (which is a big issue within the farming industry, especially in certain countries).
The last thing to talk about is what we add to coffee. Generally the highest risk when talking about coffee consumption, is the added sugar. I would generally recommend to limit or reduce added sugar in your coffee, if possible!
Thank you for reading this post all about coffee! I personally try to practice moderation, but I also believe it is important to indulge in things that you enjoy and that bring you happiness- for me, coffee is one of these things.
As always, if you have any questions do not hesitate to reach out!