Coffee is one of those things – you either love it or hate it. You know if you like the taste or not (or if it’s just a carrier for sugar and cream). You know how it makes you feel (i.e. your gut, your mind, etc.). Not to mention the crazy headlines that say coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!
There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It’s a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you’re used to drinking.
NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-250 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup, and is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine but it still contains some.
Let’s look at caffeine metabolism, it’s effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.
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 are “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 those headlines contradict each other so much – because we’re all different!
The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body
NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.
The effects of coffee (and 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 (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Most times people feel the effects a lot more when they first start drinking coffee as opposed to those who have it every day.
Here’s a list of these effects (that may decrease with long-term use):
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.
Coffee and health risks
There are a ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.
Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:
Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (and you get them without the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).
DISCLAIMER: 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. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich 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 drinking #allthecoffee.
Should you drink coffee or not?
There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.
Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:
If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:
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 if you notice a difference. If you are a 6 cup a day drinker and have any of the negative reactions like difficulty sleeping, you may want to slowly cut back and stop drinking caffeine by 1 pm to see if that makes a difference. It isn’t always necessary to completely eliminate coffee, sometimes we just need a little reduction.
If you like your coffee with cream and sugar, here is a healthier alternative to still get that creamy sweet taste. If you’re not a big fan of PSLs you can always leave out the spice and pumpkin puree!
Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Latte
3 tbsp coconut milk (I like SO Delicious Culinary Lite)
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pumpkin puree
½ tsp maple syrup
1 cup coffee (decaf if preferred)
Instructions: Add all ingredients to blender and blend until creamy. Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can use black tea instead of coffee if you prefer or even put over ice after blending for a cold drink.
If you’ve decided that coffee is not for you, or you want something hot and healthy to share with the kiddos, check out my Hot Chocolate Collagen Recipe!