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Is Coffee Healthy?

Is Coffee Healthy

By Guy Lawrence

COFFEE. Mmmmmmm. I only have to walk past a coffee shop and the aroma wafting out past my nostrils gets me practically drooling like Homer Simpson over ch-o-c-o-late.

It’s fair to say the latte lifestyle is ingrained in me. Sitting around and catching up with your mates, whilst sipping away on your favorite beverage (mine’s long black with a side of cream, extra hot, made with love) is a great way to spend half hour. And judging by the five coffee shops within a 100m of me (I’m in one writing this), understandably it’s ingrained in many others too.

The cost of coffee

I’ve just had the barista tell me that they (my favourite coffee shop out of the five) sell on average about 800-1200 cups a day! So it’s easy to say I’m not the only coffee lover around here. What amazes me more is that, I contribute on average, about two of those cups. At $3.50 a pop that’s $49 a week, and $2,548 a year! There’s a return flight to the other side of the world right there. Ouch.

We always recognise coffee, or even more so caffeine, as a bit of a pick me up. It clears the foggy cloud hanging above your head first thing in the morning, and then a mid afternoon fix to get you over the finish line for the day. Interestingly too, caffeine is often touted as a weight loss stimulant.

Is coffee healthy?

Firstly, I think we can all agree that if you keep things in perspective, the body copes well. i.e. You eat wholesome and natural most meals, but throw in a pizza once in a while, no problem. But it’s when the scales start to tip the other way the body starts to give out.

I’m the first to defend coffee, as I love the taste and the whole culture that goes with it, so I feel I can justify the odd cup, but I know those scales have started to tip, which has now led me to start digging a little further and finding out what the effects are of a regular caffeine hit are, and this is what I came up with…

The effects

When you have a cup of coffee, it initiates uncontrolled neurons firing in the brain, which triggers the pituitary gland to secrete a hormone that tells your adrenal gland to wake up and release adrenalin. (Caffeine Blues by Stephen Cherniske)

So this response now puts you in  ‘fight or flight’ mode, which I’m sure you’re all aware of, and of course you can see the great benefits of this ‘fight or flight’ safety mechanism that’s embedded in each and every one of us like a loaded gun, ready to go off at the slightest sniff of threat or danger, while we sit in our office chair or the cafe checking our emails first thing in the morning.

With this in mind, your body has just been put on red alert, with the biggest danger you’ll probably have is spilling your cuppa or writing a typo.

So you may get a bit of a lift from this, (as it generally raises blood sugar too, which is counter productive for weight loss), but of course, you come down with a crash later on in the day.  Consistently doing this day in day out will put undue stress on your adrenal glands, forcing your glands to secrete when there’s not much there to give, which exhausts them over time, and can contribute to mood swings, depression, fatigue etc.

And just to lay some icing on the cake, caffeine inhibits Iron and Zinc absorption by up to 50%, especially if consumed near meal times. Just type it into google, there’s plenty of thoughts on it.

Now, after re-reading what I’ve just wrote, I’m trying to put logic and meaning to every coffee I’ve had to date :-

Pros

  • Tastes amazing (to me)
  • Social aspect (good excuse to hang out and chat)
  • Heightened awareness for short period of time, in case of any lightning speed reactions needed while I’m sitting on my butt
  • And it’s cheap at $3.50. Just for a little daily treat.
  • Also handy to have before a Crossfit workout

Cons

  • At $3.50 a mug twice a day, you’ve got a round the world ticket. If you halved that to one cup, I’ve still got a surf trip to Bali (from Sydney) once a year.
  • There’s an art to living stress free with out the daily curve balls thrown at us. Do we need to compound this more by putting our endocrine system under stress, which can contribute to mood swings, depression, fatigue etc.
  • Food here in the city these days lacks enough nutrients as it is, especially through processing. So do we want to effect that any more than we need to?

Conclusion?

My favourite beverage has just taken on a whole new look. If I bury my head in the sand a little longer, surely no one would want to come up behind me and kick me up the arse!

I’ve also replaced my second coffee for the day with an organic anti-oxidant rich Change Chai Matcha tea. I even tried a buttered bullet proof version which was amazing!

Ok, jokes aside, do you drink coffee? How much? Why? Do you have an alternative? All comments are really appreciated… Guy

Ps. The rumours are true… Stu has never drank a cup of coffee in his entire life!!!

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    31 Replies to “Is Coffee Healthy?”
    Andy says:

    Hi Guys,

    Great article! Unfortunately it makes me re-think drinking that wonderful cup of nectare!

    What are your thoughts on decafe coffee? Does it still increase blood sugar and attribute the negative effects?

    Ive given up on standard coffee and switch to decafe in an attempt to keep insulin levels at bay whilst still enjoying the taste.

    Thoughts??

    Cheers,
    Andy

    180nps says:

    Personally I don’t drink decaf coffee. From what I’m told it’s highly processed to take out the caffeine. I usually have a long black with cream if I have coffee. I honestly think it’s ok if kept in moderation, but keep those insulin levels in check through the foods you eat. Hope that helps, Guy

    Craig says:

    I’m with you dude. I have my one cup a day and love it. And I’m not steering away from that. If we stopped putting in our mouths everything that ‘someone’ said was no good for you, there wouldn’t be much left to choose from. Life is about enjoying in moderation. That may extend to a half a glass of red antioxidant after work every now and then too! BTW, tea is also full of caffeine evidently.

    Chris Lock says:

    I am a coffe lover myself and love my short blacks.

    I think as long as you dont over do it its fine.

    I have read lots of different articles on this topic and every article has good deffence from both sides so I get lost a little bit.

    I think we are doing much more harm to ourselfs by eating over proccessed rubbish (So called food)

    Also Guy I think you having a coffee before a crossfit session is going to be much better than that pre workout crap.

    Georgie says:

    Hi Guy,
    Uncanny timing, today is day 1 of attempting to give up coffee for the 50th (approximately..) time. And sadly it probably won’t be the last.
    I started to drink a lot when I had chronic fatigue which I now know is counterintuitive! And now the habit is deeply ingrained.
    Whenever I do stop I feel I don’t have the highs and lows in my day, I’m much more stable, plus my skin becomes clearer.
    Also I battle with what milk to have. I love the taste with soy but know I shouldn’t touch that, I don’t like it black and I the average coffee shop doesn’t have lactose free milk.
    I love all your posts, Thank you for the extra bit of motivation today!
    You can always enjoy a pot tea at the cafe with your mates 🙂

    Matt says:

    I’ve now heard two reputable nutritionists on ABC local radio say that 2-3 or even 4 cups a day delivers more health benefits than not drinking coffee. They were talking about long black or brewed coffee, with less milk – but it’s all so confusing!

    It’d be great to end my post with an answer, alas I’m just another confused voice on the internet!

    Arthur vay says:

    Hi Guy.
    Coffee is great!
    Unfortunately it does have negative baggage that comes along with it. A great alternative that I would recommended is an amino acid called l-tyrosine, it’s more of a focus supplement that can also have a slight stimulant type affect.
    One important fact people should be aware of is to know your own blood type as this could play a big role in how certain food or beverages affect you, for example I am o positive blood type and according to that caffeine should be avoided at all costs as my body produces high levels of adrenaline with out coffee.
    So caffeine and my blood type is a recipe for anxiety lol
    Hope this info helps 🙂

    180nps says:

    Hey Arthur, I’m currently undergoing a DNA test & will be interested to see if anything comes back with the relationship to coffee…

    Chris Tuck says:

    Good article.

    I personally love the taste of it but don’t drink much coffee as for some reason it makes me feel terrible, irritable and sometimes angry, more so than any other drinks with caffeine.

    I also don’t recommend it to my Personal Training clients as most I’ve seen of the years who enjoy it daily struggle to lose weight. I put this down to the fact they add plenty of sugar and milk which tip their daily calories of the limit.

    However if ever I’m in Newtown Sydney, I will have one at the Campos Cafe as I love vibe of the place and their coffee is pretty damm good as well.

    I think its one of those good but bad options, much like red meat, chicken and dairy, I recognise it does have health benefits (especially black)

    Best to drink mainly Alkaline water and Herbal teas I reckon though

    Chris says:

    I think I would be more depressed and prone to mood swings WITHOUT my coffee!!

    In regards to decaf- if you can find a coffee that has been decaffeinated using the ‘Swiss water method’ it is your best option. Otherwise as mentioned, the bean is HIGHLY processed and probably doing you more harm than just having a normal coffee.

    If you keep your consumption to good quality arabica (not robusta) fresh ground coffee this is preferable. Instant coffee, most of the time being robusta, has a higher caffeine content and is of a poorer quality.

    Support your local 😉

    Chris.

    Guy,

    Good article mate… The ‘Is coffee safe?’ debate will last until the end of ages. I see a topic or blog post about this every week and the problem is a lot of ‘opinion’ is shared instead of actual facts.

    Personally I love coffee, black no sugar. Yes there are pros and cons but at the end of the day it’s about living a balanced lifestyle. Consume the right things to ensure the body’s ph level is maintained and certain organs not under stress.

    Most people don’t realise but coffee plantations are one of the most heavily sprayed crops out there.

    Will I stop drinking coffee? No!

    There are far worse things out there that can cause damage to my body. And as Chris mentioned above ‘Using coffee as a pre workout instead of the crap you buy from stores today will be far better for your body in the long run’.

    So for now, coffee gets the thumbs up from me.

    180nps says:

    Yeah that’s a good point about the pre-workout option… & to be honest I only do it under certain circumstances like the CrossFit Open or a competition…

    Sophie says:

    Oh how I have been waiting for a comment from the few health blogs that I follow about coffee. Myself, I love the stuff, I’m Italian, it’s in my blood. At the same time I have also tried the full quit on a few occasions and its just like quitting sugar for a sweet tooth, awful while its happening, and then all of a sudden, a full day of clear thinking wholehearted energy! What bliss…. And then, after a weekmor so, for no particular reason, I get sucked back in!!

    So now, I am only making my own coffees, I use half good quality full strength stuff and half organic water filtered (ie. no chemicals) decaf. I’ve had a few headaches while cutting down from essentially 3 or so espressos a day to 1, and the bowels have needed some help to get cracking again. Otherwise I feel I am in a happy medium at the moment.

    I know in myself that the full quit will feel gooooooood. I know that I will possibly do it one day, but for now my little plan is kinda working for me.

    Looking forward to hearing others’ viewpoints!

    Louisa Khoury says:

    Hi Guy! I used to drink alot of coffee and then suddenly my body rejected it as I eat much the same as you and it makes me shaky and wired. I’m actually upset as I love drinking at least a cup a day… I’m European and its part of living! But I’ve just gone with it and now drink Dandeloin Tea! Tastes sort if similar but NOT!!! Love reading your blogs! And love 180!!! 🙂 I ran out last week and am missing it!!

    Penny says:

    Drink coffee do stupid things faster!
    People who drink coffee before an exercise are more likely
    to do damage because the stimulant has suppressed all the warning signals. Its a direutic so it flushes out all the toxins and the minerals, not good to take with supplements. Its a bowel irritant contributes to bloating. Its a silent drug that people use instead of giving their bodies what it really needs nutrients and water.
    Your body heals overnight and releases all the unwanted stuff flush out with water not coffee.
    Dont listen to coffee listen to your body.
    Yes i love coffee was a once a day. Almost completed a no coffee lent of 44 days. Feel so much better without it. It is an addiction!

    Shalon says:

    The thing I love the most about coffee besides the wonderful taste is the atmosphere it creates, as Guy mentioned its the hanging with friends in cool coffee shops that is addicting as coffee itself. I love coffee but I try to have just have the expirence rather than the actual coffee if I’m at home and that keeps it down to a few times a week or less. The coffee expirece I create at home is dandelion coffee with frothed creamy coconut milk. It’s hot , same color and has a good taste and dosent put the extra pressure on the adrenals so it works for me.

    180nps says:

    I’ve tried the dandelion, but not with the frothy coconut milk… Will have to give that one a go 🙂

    Brian says:

    Lifes too short, so everything in moderation!

    CJ says:

    I am a coffee addict (in a good way). I have moved from a 2 sugar latte, to no sugar latte, to flat white, to picollos and now short blacks!
    I enjoy them, so a cup a day, and sometimes two keeps me happy.
    I know if I dont have one after noon, it doesnt really interfere with my sleep too much, but sometimes I am passing by a good cafe and the urge takes over 🙂 and I surrender and thats when it comes and bites me during night, when I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the coffee I had!

    I have to say a nice coffee can make or break your day. Lets see how many people agree with that.

    I replace coffees with Dandelion Root Tea, it reminds me of a long black, and has many great health benefits!

    Robyn says:

    Hi Guy
    Yesterday I read the chapter in the book The Great Cholesterol Myth (Johnny Bowden and Stephen Sinatra) called Stress:The Silent Killer. This chapter really enlightened me to how vital it is to manage stress in our lives. Stress contributes to every disease known and the detailed description of the steps from stress to a heart attack is something everyone who wants to look after their heart should read. So when I read your post something that stood out to me was how much you enjoy your coffee – it’s a break in an otherwise hectic day; a chance to sit around; it’s a catch up with your mates; its a social activity – to me, these are all compelling reasons why you should think twice about giving up your much loved coffee ‘habit’. Read the book for the explanation of how community and connection are powerful enough to overcome other unhealthy lifestyle factors and especially consider some of the cultures where heart disease is low like parts of Greece where the healing powers of men spend quality time with each other is considered a major factor in the reduction of coronary disease.
    For me the chance to chat and laugh with my friends, bond with a colleague outside the office, sit for 10 minutes after rushing to the airport or hang out in the kitchen with my husband (handily a barista !) that all come with being a coffee lover won’t be dropped anytime soon.
    Cheers Robyn

    180nps says:

    You make a really good point Robyn, especially for those of us in the city!

    Kaz says:

    Thanks the the article !

    I feel like a lucky one who doesn’t drink coffee 🙂 I haven’t had a coffee for more than 20 years but am amazed by its ‘power’ to get people to have it everyday several times a day and those who need it to wake up and some like it before bed 🙁

    In reference to it being healthy ….. too much of anything is not good and if people enjoy the social side of drinking coffee then that’s great …. it’s a bit like having a beer at the pub but some go for coffee at cafes cause they enjoy the relaxation time and enjoyment of drinking their cappuccinos 🙂 as for the $$ spent that’s a whole other area of discussion 🙂

    Cheers !

    Dilys says:

    Unrelated to the specific topic of coffee but can I just say that it is very refreshing for someone to be realistic about eating well. With all the information available these days it can be disheartening to learn that the good ol’ sandwich and smoothie you’ve been shoveling down at lunch may not be as good for you as you think. Having to change old habits is hard enough as it is and without the media constantly chastise “bad” foods providing the impression that healthy living is an unwavering path from fresh, nutrient dense foods.

    Thank you Guy, for giving us a new perspective on how achieveable healthy living is.

    180nps says:

    Thanks for the kind words Dilys 🙂

    180nps says:

    Really appreciate all the comments & apologies for the slow response everyone… For some reason our comment notifications went straight to spam! You got to love technology…

    Jake Sandilands says:

    I rarely drink coffee socially and usually only
    have it before a crossfit workout. I train
    at 6am most days so figure the boost
    would help my body get out of sleep mode
    in preparation for a wod. Is this no longer
    a good idea?

    180nps says:

    In all honesty Jake, I think there would be pros & cons to both, but If does work for you then stick with it… Cheers, Guy

    Kelly May says:

    Love the article! Am loving everything you are writing at 180! David Gillespie, Sarah Wilson, Christine Cronou and the boys at 180 are finally producing material that makes sense to me and is working! I suffer from fatigue as a side effect of my rheumatoid arthritis – and for a 35yr old mother of 2 thay can be a real issue. I used to be a huge coffee drinker but have managed to cut down to 3-4 a week tops. I dont want to get rid of it, I enjoy it and the social aspect – but Im learning to fuel my body in other ways. Ive also cut down on black tea. I dabble in green tea every now and then, but Im not a huge fan – seems that water wins for me during most occasions as Ive cut out all juice and only have the very rare soft drink or alcoholic drink.

    That’s awesome Kelly… Keep up the great work! Nothing wrong with enjoying a coffee now and then 😉 Guy

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