Updated: Mar 21
Today's post is about what is good and not so good about caffeine.
Day 10: The good and the bad
Caffeine is arguably one of the most researched nutrition topics. This is understandable since it's also a language that countries and their respective cultures all around the world speak and understand. Brewing a cup of coffee as you get out of bed, sitting on the porch coffee in hand watching the sun come up, and watching the morning news snuggled in bed with a cup of java are all common routines we all know something about. Coffee also plays a big role in bringing people together such as first dates, reunions, business meetings, brunches, and after-dinner conversations. Needless to say, it's deeply rooted in our culture and it's not going away anytime soon.
So, here's what you need to know - from a nutrition perspective. Research has debated over coffee intake for a long time; but, for now, the benefits are pulling ahead. This is mostly because of the antioxidants that coffee beans possess. They help fight against free radicals and oxidative stress. This is just a fancy way to say it has protective properties to help prevent us from developing cancer, heart disease, liver disease, and Type 2 diabetes, to name a few.
Coffee isn't the only or even best source of antioxidants. Berries and nuts also have a high amount of antioxidants; but, research tells us that western countries don't eat as much of these foods as coffee and tea. So if coffee is so good for us, then what is there to debate?
Well, coffee beans also have caffeine. Caffeine is responsible for that "energy" boost we get. It's also an appetite suppressant. Caffeine is a sneaky fellow. Too much of it (which by the way, varies from person to person) can displace food. This ultimately results in displacing fruits, vegetables, carbs, and protein. Remember how I said in a previous post that just 5 days of undereating causes negative effects on bone mass? Here's reason number one to consume caffeine in a balanced way.
If you are someone who is sensitive to caffeine, you can accidentally under eat. The other consequence is that caffeine elicits our stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol helps us to deal with stress and get through the day despite being tired and overworked. Too many days of over producing cortisol and you get something called adrenal fatigue. This eventually leaves you in a vicious trap of caffeine dependence, poor sleep, irritability, sickness, and overall burnout.
How can you get the benefits of antioxidants without compromising your routine? Try decreasing the amount of coffee you drink and/or switching to decaf after 11 am. This will allow you to see where your true energy levels lie, thus allowing you to grab food such as fruits and nuts or a better balanced lunch and dinner. The recommended amount of coffee is somewhere between 2 - 4 cups a day; however, I hesitate to even say that because people vary too much with how much they can realistically tolerate. As a coffee drinker myself, I am in no way telling you to stop drinking coffee. I look forward to my cup just as much as the next coffee lover What I am saying is that knowing your caffeine limit is a non-negotiable for overall physical and mental health.
Would you like to know how if you're on track to optimal health and wellness? Click on the link below and come in for a health and wellness assessment. Make 2022 your year for optimal health.
Jen Pfeilfer, MS, APD
Dr. Thomas R. Schneider, Medical Director