COFFEE 101 : ALL YOU NEED TO MAKE BETTER CAFFEINE CHOICES

WOMAN DRINKING COFFEE

Introduction

Did you know that March is National Caffeine Awareness Month?  That being said, the recommendations on coffee seem to change every day.  Is coffee ok or even good for you?

Don’t worry, I got you!  This post will give you all the pros and cons, tips and tricks to help you make better caffeine choices, more often.  Keep reading to learn more.

 

better caffeine choices: woman smiling and holding a blue cup of coffee

The Pros Of Making Better Caffeine Choices

  1. Coffee contains caffeine which stimulates the body.  This can be helpful if it motivates you to exercise or supports mental focus.  Plus it shifts the body from using sugar as energy to using fat.  This can benefit you by promoting neurochemicals that support positive mood, and memory and help prevent dementia.
  2. Coffee contains antioxidants.  Coffee research shows cancer prevention benefits likely resulting from the antioxidant blend found in the coffee bean.
  3. Coffee can contribute to your daily water intake.

 

better caffeine choices: sad woman holding a cup of coffee

The Cons Of Coffee

  1. Coffee contains caffeine which stimulates the body.  This can be harmful as it can accelerate heart pumping as well as digestion thus contraindicated for people with high blood pressure or those who tend toward looser stools.  This can be harmful as it can create excitatory bias. Translation: You might speak faster, listen less well, have less patience with the driver or pedestrian in front of you, or with the person on the phone, or send an email or a text without stopping to think it through thoroughly.
  2.  Coffee is a diuretic.  This means for the coffee amount you consume you will need to increase your water intake to maintain optimal amounts of water for optimal metabolism both inside and outside the cells.
  3. Coffee is acidic.  Acids left unchecked in the digestive system can interfere with better health. Acid impacts health issues such as acid reflux, general reflux, inflammation, gut bacterial balance, and microbiome hospitability among others.

 

When To Just Say No

  1. Avoid coffee: when recommended by your practitioner
  2. Avoid coffee: When the body (and mind) need to heal, repair, or are actively working to fight off illness. You might think coffee is your best way to have energy during this time but the lack of energy is a signal your body needs you to do less and even nap during this time.
  3. Avoid coffee if you suffer from anxiety or high blood pressure or if it’s contraindicated with your medications.

 

better caffeine choices: woman with questions

How Much Coffee Should You Drink

The ability to metabolize caffeine is largely genetic, so you need to know how you do with caffeine AND assess all the ways you get it in daily.

  1. 1-2 cups of coffee can otherwise be consumed, noting the quality and other nutrition factors explored in this lesson, and making sure to counterbalance the acidity with alkaline-forming foods and beverages.
  2. Research shows even four cups of coffee may benefit some in cancer and chronic disease prevention.

 

Tips For Better Caffeine Choices

  1. Better caffeine: Whereas plain coffee cups seem okay for us and even show some promise in helping prevent disease, the same is not true for caffeinated sodas, so trading soda for a cup of Joe and a serving of nuts or seeds is a worthy swap.
  2. Reduce: If you currently drink 8 cups of coffee a day or 6 cups and 2 poor quality “energy drinks” there could be a better plan. Try 4 cups of coffee, spread throughout your morning & early afternoon, for a better nutrition win.
  3. Nutrition upgrade: If you currently drink sweetened coffee, tea, and “energy” drinks, there’s a better nutrition option. Enjoy a coffee or tea with a max of 1 teaspoon of sugar (~4g) with a piece of fruit, nuts, and seeds or with hummus and non-starchy vegetables. Not only will this help deliver better energy, you likely will notice the difference in your waistline and reduce the risk of several chronic diseases.
  4. Spice it up: If you currently drink four cups of coffee with pumpkin spice and or an artificial sweetener and flavor and instead traded those in for a coffee with cinnamon, clove, or cardamom or added coffee into a smoothie with actual pumpkin and spices then you could get great taste and the digestive aids of spices, and the nutrition benefits of pumpkin and coffee as well.
  5. Fewer toxins: If you currently sip 4 cups of coffee and switched to organic coffee – as coffee is one of the highest pesticide sprayed crops – even shade grown, then your choice reduces your toxin load in the body and lowers the amount of detox work as well as your risk of disease.
  6. Cold brew: this may have less acid making it a better choice for those who find the acidity of other coffee forms challenging.

 

Is It Really Coffee You’re Drinking

Coffee bean growing and processing will impact many of the factors above and as a result, affect its’ health impact potential.

  1. Organic raw whole green coffee beans have a variety of active acids that can support cognitive health, proactively suppress appetite, and even stimulate fat burning. However, when roasted at high heat or sprayed heavily with pesticides, or when a single acid is extracted into a supplement, these results should not be expected. On the contrary, the final product can deduct from better health.
  2.  When coffee is grown in the shade of different plants, the soil acquires and can maintain nutrients resulting from this biodiversity. This will impact the nutrients in the coffee plant as well as in the fruit, leaves, stems, and other products of the plants producing the shade.  Shade is created from biodiverse plants like cedar trees, banana, orange, lemon, and avocado trees that create a nitrogen balance affecting a coffee-beneficial microclimate including healthier soil.  A biodiverse climate promotes the sustainability of more species.  Shade can improve the quality of coffee because it’s planted and grown close to its own natural environment.
  3. Many decaffeinated coffees use synthetic chemicals for processing. If you choose decaf, look for those that use natural processing ingredients and methods.

 

 

better caffeine choices: woman making a face at her coffee cup

What You Put In Your Coffee Matters

This is a no-brainer yet it comes up in every session I have with a coffee drinker.  Yes, you should enjoy the flavor and texture of your coffee. But make sure your additions are adding to your better health, not compromising them. Make sure to discuss the following with your practitioner.

  1.  Sweeteners, Dairy/ Non-Dairy Milks & Creamers
  2.  Supplemental Powders

The quality, amount, and frequency of what you add should be factored into your total nutrition plan. You can ask them for specific guides and quizzes to help you see if your choices are better, and, if not, to get better recommendations.

 

Fair Trade, Direct Trade, Or Organic

Fair Trade Vs Direct Trade

Wondering what’s better? The short is that it depends. Both are well-intentioned to help the communities that grow and harvest coffee beans do better. Learn from your favorite coffee companies what practices they employ and why.

Organic Coffee

  1. Grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers and deemed unsuitable by the National Organic Program, therefore don’t contribute to added toxic residues.
  2. Doesn’t allow for the use of artificial flavors, artificial colors, GMO seeds, or unapproved preservatives.
  3. Does not kill small animals that may be poisoned due to toxic chemicals from synthetic fertilizers, thus helping to preserve the environment.
  4. Processed using dry or wet milling.  Dry milling separates the beans from dried coffee berries and is done by a machine or the sun.  Wet milling does not use chemicals and produces high-quality beans.
  5.  Organic shade-grown coffee is grown in natural shade without clearing land for farming thus preserving more of the natural habitat.

 

Conclusion

Whether you’re a hardcore coffee lover or just enjoy the occasional cup, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of coffee so you can make better caffeine choices.   While moderate coffee intake can provide a host of benefits, such as increased alertness and improved mood, excessive consumption can lead to negative side effects like anxiety and insomnia.

Additionally, it’s essential to pay attention to the quality of your coffee and the additives you choose to use. For a better caffeine intake experience, we recommend drinking no more than 3-4 cups of coffee a day, experimenting with different brewing methods to find the best flavor, and using high-quality coffee beans and natural sweeteners instead of sugar and creamers.

By following these tips, you can enjoy a delicious and energizing cup of coffee while minimizing any negative side effects. Are you a coffee lover?  What’s your favorite way to enjoy a cup of joe?  Leave a comment and let me know!

 

***Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice***

 

 

 

 

 

Author

  • Susan Taylor, RDN LD

    Meet Susan, registered dietitian / nutritionist and fellow autoimmune warrior who is dedicated to helping women with autoimmune disease get their groove back. With the right diet and lifestyle changes, Susan empowers her clients to take control of their health and feel their best. When she's not busy saving the world you can find Susan strolling along the beach, jet-setting to new destinations, and soaking up quality time with family & friends.

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