We frequently get asked – “but what about coffee? Is it ok to drink? Since we love to talk about brain health and how to boost your brainpower, we thought it was time to put our coffee studies into words you can study and SHARE over and over. Time to settle the question of whether or not coffee is ok.
The story started many years ago when coffee was deemed dangerous – possibly causing high blood pressure, heart rhythm malfunctions, heartburn, and sleep disturbances. It was even thought to contribute to some cancers, like bladder and pancreas. Fortunately for coffee lovers, the second most popular beverage (next to water) has been intensely studied over the last few decades. The results are in our favor.
In fact, research indicates that drinking 3-4 cups per day can lead to a longer lifespan. Bottoms up! And now, the World Health Organization is taking coffee off the possible carcinogen (cancer-causing) list. Yahooo!
Name one property of coffee that contributes to its health benefits.
If you said, “it’s a good antioxidant,” you’d be right on target. What does that mean exactly?
Inside your body are billions of chemical reactions that take place every second. As the reactions are completed, they spew off tiny particles, called “free radicals.” Free radicals can be considered the waste products leftover from chemical reactions. They’re harmful to your brain and other organs, as they damage your cells’ delicate machinery, compromise your organ function, and eventually lead to poor health. Antioxidants (like coffee) attach to free radicals to neutralize them and direct their elimination from your body.
That’s why it’s so important to load your diet with antioxidants. They’ve been proven to lower your chances for chronic illnesses and cancers.
Research shows that coffee drinkers may have a reduced risk for….
- Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases
- Strokes and heart attacks
- Type 2 diabetes
- Some cancers
- Cirrhosis of the liver
But our personal favorite benefits: better brain and more energy
Your energy level influences your mindset, health, and productivity.
Unfortunately, your energy gets drained due to the demands of daily life. You wake up tired, don’t feel like getting groceries, skip the work-out, and fall short of your ambitions. The caffeine found in coffee speeds your metabolic rate to rejuvenate and energize you. It helps you burn fat and improves exercise performance. It boosts the release of adrenaline to make your heart beat faster, sending more blood to your muscles and brain.
Caffeine is the most well-known compound in coffee beans, though there are hundreds of other nutritional compounds. Caffeine influences your brain’s neurotransmitters (brain chemicals that transmit information throughout your body). One of these is dopamine, which manages your levels of concentration.
Caffeine increases the speed of nerve transmission in your brain, temporarily improving your focus. Not only can it make you smarter in the short term, but it may also protect your brain from aging. This lowers your risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
For those whose glass is half empty…
Drinking coffee comes with a cautionary qualification. This might help explain the confusion about coffee.
Coffee is one of the most widely traded commodities in the world. Meeting the world’s demand is a big job. As with many areas of agriculture, farming methods have changed to increase production – often at the expense of health.
Conventional coffee is one of the most highly chemically treated foods in the world. It is laden with herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides. These poisons tax the surrounding environment, the farmers who handle the beans, and finally, you who are bent on savoring the flavors and aromas.
It’s become trendy to buy local, organic fruits and vegetables and grass-fed meat, but here’s where “going organic” really matters! Organic beans are grown without chemicals. As a bonus, organic beans are richer in healthy antioxidants. They’re grown within the shade of lush forests. The plant and animal life within the forest sustains a fertile soil which is rich with nutrients that become incorporated into the growing plant.
And on the subject of clean coffee
There’s one more thing you may be interested in. Many coffee beans are contaminated with a mold, called ochratoxin A. This mold toxin has been shown to cause cancer in humans and interfere with your immune system. This may be the real culprit behind why coffee has historically had such a bad reputation.
Like any toxin, mold toxins must be detoxified by your body’s busy detoxification system, mainly through your kidneys. This is part of the mechanism that explains why you feel the need to visit the bathroom urgently and repeatedly, after you’ve had a bad cup of coffee.
The best way to lower your chances of drinking ochratoxin with your coffee, is to avoid blends. It’s not always clear where each component is grown and what proportion of each is in your sample. Look for coffee roasted locally or from a single location. Beans from Central and South America tend to contain less mold contamination than those found in other areas of the world.
Here’s our take on coffee
If you love your coffee, you can keep your coffee.
Considering all the health benefits, you might be tempted to increase your daily amount of coffee – or start drinking it, if you already don’t. But, if you don’t like coffee, there are no current recommendations to start drinking it. In any case, remember the research was done on moderate coffee drinkers, that is, 3-4 cups a day. You’re on your own if you drink more than that. ~Dr. Nancy & Dr. Sue