Is it time to give up that morning cup of joe?
You know if you like the taste (and smell) of coffee or not. Maybe it’s just a reason to drink sugar and creambut, it can also make you feel focused, wired, jittery, etc.
Not to mention the conflicting news headlines that say it’s great one day, and the next day it’s poison!
There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It’s a matter of your genetics ( how you metabolize it) and how much you’re used to drinking.
NOTE: Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Two ounces of espresso equals about 80 mg of caffeine while 12 ounces of drip coffee contains 120 mg.
This beverage is one of the most popular ways to get your daily buzz. But… a cup of regular contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. It also contains antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds. According to WebMD, “Coffee beans contain disease-ravaging antioxidants, called quinines, which become more potent after roasting. According to an American Chemical Society news release, coffee is the leading source of antioxidants in American diets — in part because we drink a ton of it.” These are the reasons drinking it is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaf 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 peopl who dronk it have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if it’s right for you.
Not all people metabolize caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolize caffeine will impact 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 all those headlines contradict each other – because we’re all different!
The Effects of Caffeine on the Mind and Body.
NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.
The effects 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 and become more tolerant to long-term caffeine use. You sort of build up immunity to it! Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have it every day.
Here’s a list of these effects (that usually decrease with long-term use):
- Stimulates the brain
- Boosts metabolism
- 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.
Caffeine and Health Risks
There are quite a few of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether daily drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.
Here’s a quick summary of what all this caffeine can lead to:Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)
- Increased sleep disruption
- Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Lower risk of certain liver diseases
- Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease
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. Most of all, never think drinking it alone is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich plant based 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 caffeine.
Should you Drink Coffee or Not?
There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. Remeber, no one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.
Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for anyonewith the following conditions:
- Arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)
- People who often feel anxious
- Anyone who has trouble sleeping
- Women who are pregnant
- Children and
If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have some. 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. Worried about caffeine withdrawal? Ease into it by drinking half decaf for a while or try green tea instead.