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Can Coffee Be Healthy?

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How many of you had a coffee this morning? How many of you are eagerly anticipating your first sip? Maybe you like to save your latte for that lull around 11am, or the 4pm slump.

Taking a coffee break gives you the chance to slip out of the office and step away from your screen. It also provides a reason to take a pause. And for some people, that’s all they are really craving.

Lets be clear, coffee is not the devil – but nor is it as innocuous as some people think. It is a strong substance that performs differently in each of us. Which is why it can make some people put on weight and others dramatically drop it.

It can also provide an enjoyable pep for some people, while can leave others with pounding hearts, sleepless nights and lowered immunity.

For coffee lovers there is some good news; it has been shown to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’sliver cancer and in a meta-analysis of nearly 480,000 people, lower your risk of stroke.

So why should you cut it out? I’ve outlined a few points below, but for those who will continue to enjoy the popular pick-me-up, see my golden rules for healthy coffee drinking at the bottom.

Why Coffee is Not So Good For You:

* Coffee doesn’t give you a chance to relax; to find neutral. So when you’re craving that caffeine hit remember that nothing in coffee gives you energy. It’s a drug that affects your adrenal glands, and your nervous system. It keeps you going, even when you want to stop – or sleep.

Think about it for a moment. Exercise gives you energy, deep breathing fills your body with life force, bathing in Epsom salts soaks your cells in magnesium, which is crucial for energy production… but coffee? It generally leaves you wired, and then tired.

* Coffee can make you fat, according to Dr. Libby Weaver, a New Zealand nutritional biochemist and author of Accidentally Overweight. Dr Weaver explains that caffeine stimulates the production of adrenalin and when adrenalin is released your blood sugar spikes. What happens when blood sugar elevates? Insulin – the fat storage hormone – is released to deal with the excess glucose. What is not used or stored in your muscles ends up on your hips.

coffee cake sml

*Excessive caffeine depletes magnesium. Low levels of magnesium are linked to everything from skyrocketing stress and poor sleep to bone loss and cancer. In a recent survey, 46% of patients admitted to a cancer care unit in Brazil were found to be clinically deficient in magnesium.

*Coffee reduces your electrical energy. Yes really. A study from an independent division of Eastern State University in Cheny Washington, shows that sipping a cup of coffee can lower your electrical frequency in a matter of seconds.  Why is this bad? The author of the study, Bruce Tainio, found that the immune system becomes compromised when your frequency drops.

If you’re a coffee lover, reading this post is unlikely to change your morning habit. Believe me, giving up coffee was one of the hardest things I had to do, but four years on, I don’t regret it.

It took 18 months to fully wean myself off my one almond milk latte. But for me it was worth it. My insomnia disappeared (almost overnight) my headaches became a thing of the past and I had more energy. I still miss it though, and sometimes on holiday, I treat myself to a cold brew coffee. Read below to see why this is the healthiest coffee to drink and how you can cut back on coffee if you need to.

Golden Rules for Coffee Drinking:

Always eat before heaving coffee. Ideally breakfast should include some protein and fat (porridge with peanut butter, eggs and avo on toast) to help offset the blood sugar spike.

Drink your brew between 10-2pm or 2pm-5pm say scientists. Why? It’s to do with cortisol. The hormone naturally peaks in the morning (around 8am) to help wake us up, but when you habitually drink coffee first thing it replaces that boost. To reduce the chance of coffee interfering with your natural rhythms save it for when the hormone naturally dips – at the above times.

Choose organic. Coffee is generally heavily sprayed with pesticides and highly susceptible to mold toxins according to Kevin Gianni, author of Kale and Coffee. One mold in particular, ochratoxin A, is linked to cancer of the kidneys and bladder.

Try Cold Brew. Now found in every artisan Australian coffee shop, it is made by steeping coffee beans for 20 hours in water. ‘The lack of heat makes it far less acidic and so kinder on digestion,’ says Natasha Corrett founder of Honestly Healthy.

Interestingly, cold-brew coffee is nothing new. I couldn’t believe it when I stumbled upon this entry in a nutrition book from 1973, when I was clearing my bookshelf!

cold water coffee crop

Avoid Decaf. This is especially important if you are pregnant. Decaf tends to be moldier and also undergoes a chemical process to remove the caffeine. This ‘Direct Process’ involves either  the use of methyl chloride (widely used as a paint stripper and degreaser) or ethyl acetate (used to make cigarettes, glue and nail polish remover). However organic is OK. For Decaf to be certified organic, the company must use one of two natural methods – either carbon dioxide or water (see the Swiss water method) to strip the caffeine. Try Organic Decaf Coffee from Coffee Plant.

If you want to cut down, try swapping one or your cups for a Matcha Latte or Chai Tea with almond milk. Both will give you a hit of caffeine without the jitters thanks to the calming effect of tannins in tea. I’ll sip to that, and end with a quote from India Knight, in a recent column:

‘Tea, unlike coffee, is never the wrong drink and there is no situation that tea doesn’t enhance.’

Laura Bond is a journalist, author and nutritional health coach. She specialises in helping clients beat stress, balance their gut flora, lose weight and prepare their bodies for babies. For more information, click here.

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