Coffee - Who can drink and who should avoid?
I proudly raise my hand and admit that I am a one cup a day individual. Even when I was pregnant. I couldn’t say goodbye to my good friend. I will say that I’m a pretty fragile person when it comes down to it so I keep it to one cup to avoid the unpleasant feelings of a disturbed GI tract, being too fidgety, and no good sleep. I couldn’t even do it in college. Now, as a mom, you can imagine how much coffee has come in handy to get me through some very tired days.
I also really like to have a protein shake in the morning. My heart starting singing when I discovered the recipe for bulletproof coffee (my own version… collagen peptides, vanilla bone broth protein powder, cacao powder, full fat coconut milk + and instant coffee. Okay, you may hate me for that last part but I’m a mom of two who works full-time… I save time where I can! Then I put hot water and that jazz in the Magic Bullet.) Awwww… Yummy. Frothy. Warm. The perfect buddy for the hour or so of quiet time I get in the morning (before the kids wake up and reality comes knocking at the door). Google the benefits of those ingredients and I bet you’ll try it, too. So, I guess my love of coffee might be more of a habit of love and solitude ;)
Do you love your daily cup of joe?
Coffee - Who can drink it and who should avoid it?
Coffee is one of those things - you either love it or hate it. You know if you like the taste or not (or if it’s just a reason to drink sugar and cream). You know how it makes you feel (i.e. your gut, your mind, etc.).
Not to mention the crazy headlines that say coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!
There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It's a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you're used to drinking.
NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains many things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds. Another thing to keep in mind is that not all caffeine sources are equal. For example, a cup of coffee contains beneficial antioxidants, but adding a large amount of whipped cream, sugar, and artificial ﬂavors makes it more likely to cause inﬂammation than combat it. Similarly, a cup of green tea pairs caffeine with powerful antioxidants, while carbonated energy drinks pair it with large doses of added sugar that may affect immunity.
These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but it still contains some.
Let's look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.
Not all people metabolize caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolize caffeine will influence how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.
About half of us are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel "wired" for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half is "fast" metabolizers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.
This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much - because we’re all different!
The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body
NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.
The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.
Here’s a list of these effects (that usually decrease with long-term use):
Stimulates the brain
Boosts energy and exercise performance
Increases your stress hormone cortisol
So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.
Coffee and health risks
There are a ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.
Potential benefits of coffee consumption:
Decreased risk of type 2 diabetes
Increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol
Reduced oxidative stress and inﬂammation
Provides small amounts of magnesium, potassium, and niacin
Lessens the effects of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and cirrhosis
May protect against Parkinson’s disease
Coffee can also lead to caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability) and increased sleep disruption.
Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).
NOTE: What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.
Should you drink coffee or not?
There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.
Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:
People with arrhythmia (e.g. irregular heartbeat)
People who often feel anxious
People who have trouble sleeping
People who are pregnant
If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:
Give you the jitters?
Increase anxious feelings?
Affect your sleep?
Give you heart palpitations?
Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?
Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?
Depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, I recommend eliminating it for a while and see the difference.
Some caffeine in the diet can be beneficial, but excessive amounts may increase risk of coronary heart disease and may also slightly reduce bone density.
In general, an appropriate amount of caffeine can help increase focus, athletic performance, and alertness, but when too much is consumed, it may also increase anxiety, jitteriness, nausea, sleep disturbance, and gastrointestinal distress.
Consider the role that caffeine plays in your diet – a cup of coffee or tea can be an enjoyable ritual, but if you find that you are constantly reaching for caffeine sources to get through the day, you may need to adjust your sleep schedule, which can help naturally balance your energy levels. If you do choose to include caffeine sources in your diet, look for options with fewer (or no!) sweeteners and stick with a dose that matches your bio-individuality.
I’ll leave you with my favorite latte recipe! xo
Recipe (Latte): Pumpkin Spice Latte (serves 1)
3 tbsp. coconut milk
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
¼ tsp vanilla extracts
1 tbsp. pumpkin puree
½ tsp maple syrup (optional)
1 cup coffee (decaf if preferred)
Instructions // Add all ingredients to blender and blend until creamy.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can use tea instead of milk if you prefer.
Leave a comment below or share your favorite way to enjoy your coffee, tea, or drink of choice. Also, take a photo to share on Instagram! Tag me @naturewellnessbeauty so I can see, and give me a follow if you don’t already! I’d love to stay connected!
Thank you for being here on this journey with me. I'm truly honored you're here. xo, jess
Hello! I’m Jess – I’m a small town Oregonian, a scientist, and a crunchy mom. Passionate about essential oils, long distance cycling, cooking with my littles, cashew milk ice cream + margaritas (on the rocks - salt, please!). My purpose is to help people and nature, both in my professional career and in my personal life. I have spent my career helping bridge the gap between commercial development and preserving nature. Essential oils have become my way to do the same between all the commercial products in our home and creating simple, products on my own. This blog shares my journey to a more natural lifestyle using essential oils, including the science behind essential oils, DIY recipes, tips, and ways to save money using plant-based alternatives.
I don’t promote diets, fitness, or weight loss as a goal - I encourage my clients to seek out what works for their individual body chemistry + spirit. We will look at how all parts of your life affect your health as a whole.
I am not a doctor. I am not here to diagnose, treat, or cure any of your illnesses. The content I share is for informational purposes only.
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