To coffee or not to coffee?
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the good ole' cup of Joe. Is it hazardous to our health, like the state of California claims, or is it chock full of antioxidants and other health boosting properties? Well, it depends.
Coffee has been a tradition for people around the world for a very, very long time. For many people, especially today, coffee is still a part of their daily routine. Coffee is the third most consumed beverage in the world next to tea and water, but is it healthy for everyone? The answer is yes and no; it depends on many different factors.
“But first, coffee!” -most everyone
Coffee can either be extremely health promoting, or cause blood sugar spikes and hormone disruption; it all depends on what you add to it, how you metabolize it, where it is sourced, how it is made, and your gender (odd, huh.)
Extra sweet soy milk caramel iced latte, anyone?
The answer to this question should be "absolutely not"; for many good reasons. Coffee in it's natural form can be very healthy, but when you add loads of sugar, milk, and artificial flavoring, you are sipping an inflammation bomb and setting yourself up for a hard sugar crash later on. If you choose to have a coffee each morning, try to drink it black or add a splash of unsweetened almond or coconut milk to it. Your body, brain, and taste buds will thank you for it. Coffee has so many flavorful notes that can really only be picked up and appreciated in its most natural form.
How you metabolize coffee matters
Do you know someone who can drink two pots of coffee per day and still sleep soundly at night with no other adverse side effects? These people are some of the lucky ones who metabolize the caffeine in coffee at a pretty rapid rate. You can thank genetics for that one! There are people who are "fast metabolizers", or those who carry the CPA1A2*1A variant of the CYP1A2 gene (responsible for metabolizing caffeine in the liver), and those who are "slow metabolizers", or those who carry the CPA1A2*1F variant of the same gene. Why does this matter, you may ask? Well, when it comes to your health, it absolutely matters to know which gene you carry to know if you can safely drink coffee. People who are "slow metabolizers" who drink more than 100 mg of caffeine per day, increase their risk of a nonfatal heart attack by fourfold! However, the opposite group (a.k.a. the people that can safely metabolize coffee at a rapid rate) can enjoy an upward of 300 mg per day, along with health benefits. Fast metabolizers who are heavy coffee drinkers actually experience a 52% decrease in the chances of having a nonfatal heart attack. They also experience a 64% decrease in high blood pressure. You can get gene testing done through your health care provider, or you can order genetic testing through this website: https://www.23andme.com/dna-health-ancestry/. It's good to know which gene that you carry so that you aim towards protecting your health and not unintentionally harming it.
Where you coffee comes from and how it is grown matters, too
When it comes to the quality of coffee, most people would say that Starbucks is some of the best coffee that there is available, but that is far from the truth. The same goes for the classic Folgers and Maxwell House coffees that are used daily in many homes on a daily basis. Not only do these coffees contain a significant amount of pesticides, they also contain dangerous mycotoxins. Coffee beans are especially susceptible to this type of mold due to environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and the amount of rainfall during harvesting season. There are many brands available though, such as Bulletproof coffee, that makes sure they test for this toxin before packaging. Buying organic is also a better choice because you avoid the harmful pesticides that come along with non-organic coffees. One last thing to consider when purchasing coffee, is to be sure that the coffee you choose is certified fair trade. This ensures that the coffee farmers are getting fair wages for the coffee that they harvest every year. See a list of certified organic, fair trade coffees here: http://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/fair-trade-coffee-brands
Roasted or cold brew coffee?
To roast your coffee or drink a cold brew? This seems to be a hot topic of debate after a judge in California ruled that major coffee chains such as Starbucks and Peet's place give their coffees a "cancer warning label" after some research presented on roasted coffee containing the carcinogen acrylamide. This chemical becomes present when coffee (and even some fried foods) are heated at very high temperatures. But is it really as dangerous as the reports claim? That is to be determined. There needs to be more studies done on roasted coffee beans and the presence of the chemical to really "prove" that it is harmful to humans. If you are worried about this chemical being present in your beloved coffee, try switching to cold brew coffee. Cold brew is much lower in acidity than brewed or drip coffee, it even has a smoother, sweeter taste! Cold brew coffee can actually be enjoyed hot or cold. Yep, you read that right! If you prefer hot coffee, simply boil some water and add the cold brew concentrate, and you've got yourself an overall healthier cup of Joe! Of course, it can always be enjoyed over ice, too. My favorite way to drink cold brew is to add one part unsweetened organic vanilla almond and one part organic cold brew coffee. It is delicious!
Some women should skip the coffee, for good
According to some researchers, women with hormonal issues such as PMS, PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, and fertility issues should not consume caffeine (specifically, coffee), and for a very good reason. Studies have shown that women are more likely to be "slow metabolizers" unlike men, which can wreak havoc on hormones. Coffee sends your hormones in all sorts of directions due to the increase of "extra" cortisol production. This can impair sleep and even daily functions! Excessive caffeine can also deplete your body of much needed nutrients, such as B vitamins. Unless you have some hormonal issues going on, on to two cups of coffee per day is probably fine, but be aware of how it makes you feel. Men actually don't get a freebie here , either. Men who are excessive coffee drinkers can actually decrease their sperm count by up to 74%, according to a study!
Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and other health promoting properties, but be aware that it can cause problems for some people!