My Week Of Coffee: Benefits + Downsides

My Week Of Coffee: Benefits + Downsides
December 19, 2014 Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.

All you need to know about coffee

About a year ago, I decided to try a cup of coffee. I have so many clients ask me how to overcome caffeine/coffee addictions and I try to give recommendations, but I always feel like I’m not being fully empathetic, so I decided the only thing to do was try it to see what they enjoyed about it.

The thing is, I’ve never liked coffee. I’m a tea kinda girl. The first time I tried it was a hotel coffee maker, and it was the most terrible thing I’d ever had. Since then, I just had no interest in trying to like it.

As a nutritionist, I’m very aware of the downsides of coffee as a stimulant. I am, however, also aware of the health benefits of coffee. Since it’s not something that’s downright unhealthy for me (like Coke), I felt really curious to see if it could actually be helpful in terms of boosting energy levels.

With winter solstice (aka the shortest day of the year, aka December 21st, aka when we feel sleepy all the time cause it’s dark) rapidly approaching, I thought it would be an interesting week to look at coffee since so many people use it to keep themselves awake.

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When I had that first cup of coffee a year ago, I consulted with my best friend, who loves coffee. She told me to try a latte (non-dairy, of course), and made me promise to tell her what I felt from it.

What I told her was that I didn’t feel anything. She didn’t believe it, she thought it must have been a fluke. Since I rarely drink caffeinated drinks, she figured coffee would hit me hard.

She thought I had to do a re-test. So, the next day, I had another coffee. I still felt no effects. The only thing I noticed was that I wasn’t at all hungry.

Anyway, I’ve had a cup of coffee here and there over the past year. I kept thinking it would be interesting to have one week where I had a coffee every day, to see what the cumulative effects would be.

That week has come… While I’m experimenting on myself, I thought I would share some tidbits about the benefits of coffee, as well as the downsides of coffee.

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Benefits of Coffee

  • low calorie ‘treat’
  • energy boost
  • performance boost for athletes
  • appetite suppressant
  • laxative (could be good or bad…)
  • antioxidants
  • chromium and magnesium
  • correlated with lower incidence of type 2 diabetes
  • correlated with lower incidence of Parkinson’s and dementia
  • correlated with lower incidence of certain types of cancer
  • correlated with lower incidence of heart rhythm problems
  • correlated with lower incidence of stroke

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Downsides of Coffee

  • frantic feeling
  • jitters
  • addictive
  • stimulates the body without nourishment, can lead to depleted adrenal function
  • tends to lead to a crash when the caffeine wears off
  • can cause withdrawal headaches
  • raises blood pressure
  • raises adrenaline, possibly causing frantic stressed feelings
  • stains teeth
  • breath smell
  • inability to sleep when consumed in the afternoon or evening
  • acidic – can aggravate hearburn
  • diurectic, can lead to dehydration
  • laxative (can be good or bad…)
  • tends to lead addition of sugar and/or milk/cream to offset bitterness

There are some ways to minimize these downsides, though, so if you can’t or don’t want to give up your coffee, try some of these to offset:

Offsetting the Downsides of Coffee

  • only drink it when you’re feeling calm and in control, rather than when you’re anxiously trying to catch up
  • have something nourishing before you have your coffee – as simple as a banana or an apple
  • don’t have it every day, or don’t have it multiple times per day
  • supplement with B vitamins and eat foods the nourish your adrenal glands
  • eat balanced meals and snacks throughout the day to prevent the crash
  • brush your teeth straight after having a cup
  • only have in the morning
  • eat lots of fresh vegetables to keep your body alkaline overall
  • drink lots of water throughout the day
  • use stevia as sweetener
  • use non-dairy milk if you need it (bonus points if you make your own!)

My conclusion:

Coffee is a beverage, with some benefits and also some drawbacks for certain people.

Enjoyed in moderation, and when maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle, I don’t see anything wrong with it, particularly if you follow the tips to offset the downsides.

Just pay attention to your body’s cues, and if it doesn’t work for you then there are lots of lovely coffee alternatives and herbal teas to enjoy!

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