[Below is my transcript of my video about the risks and benefits of drinking coffee, along with supplemental information on the topic.]
Hundreds of millions of people drink coffee on a nearly daily basis, and coffee drinkers commonly ask, “Is coffee good for you?”
The answer, unsurprisingly, is yes and no. There’s a lot of research out there lately on coffee, and coffee is one of the most popular beverages around the world today. How popular? According to the National Coffee Association’s 2013 online survey, 83 percent of American adults drink coffee every day, and according to the 2015 Zagat Coffee Survey Results, the average American drinks 2.1 cups of a coffee a day, which increases with age.
So what are the coffee nutrition facts? Let’s explore why coffee can be good for you and also why it can be bad for you.
Benefits of Drinking Coffee
1. High in Antioxidants
For starters, one of the biggest benefits of drinking coffee is it contains massive amounts of antioxidants. All around the world today, we’re exposed to large levels of toxicity, whether that’s tap water toxicity, toxic sunscreen or indoor air pollution, for example.
Antioxidants fight this toxicity and can really help to slow the aging process; in fact, coffee is considered the No. 1 beverage for anti-aging effects. They also can help protect yourself against free radical damage, and coffee is actually one of the five highest foods in antioxidants in the world today. In fact, research shows coffee might even contain more polyphenol antioxidants than cocoa, green tea, black tea and herbal tea — and coffee supplies as much as 70 percent of the total amount of important antioxidants in many people’s diets.
2. Protects the Liver
Another one of the benefits of drinking coffee is it increases circulation and can stimulate the liver. For example, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that coffee may protect against alcoholic liver disease. There was a 20 percent reduction in alcoholic liver syndrome for every cup of coffee a day participants drank.
3. Aids Physical Activity
Looking to improve your physical performance and get an exercising boost? Well, increasing physical performance and endurance is one more of the benefits of drinking coffee. A 2009 study published in Sports Medicine shows that coffee increases alertness and improves mental and physical performance in the short run. Coffee doesn’t necessarily improve oxygen capacity directly but allows athletes to train at a greater power output and train longer. Drinking coffee was shown to increase speed and/or power output in simulated race conditions and activities in the study.
Another study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that ingestion of a moderately high caffeine dose before exercise — such as coffee — increases post-exercise energy expenditure or the so-called “afterburn effect.”
4. Supports Cognitive Function
Coffee also has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, which supports cognitive function. In addition, coffee and caffeine consumption works as an Alzheimer’s natural treatment, in addition to other brain disorders.
In an animal study conducted by the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, mice given caffeine in their drinking water from young adulthood into older age showed protection against memory impairment and lower brain levels of the abnormal protein (amyloid-beta or Abeta) thought to be central to Alzheimer’s development. “Aged,” cognitively impaired mice exhibited memory restoration and lower brain Abeta levels following only one to two months of caffeine treatment.
Risks of Drinking Coffee
While there are undoubtedly numerous benefits of drinking coffee, there are negatives as well.
1. Caffeine Addiction
Consuming too much caffeine can have an addictive side effect, leading to caffeine overdose. The danger there is it can overstimulate the body, burn out your adrenal glands and really overtax your body — and when you don’t get your caffeine “fix,” it can lead to headaches, anxiety, irritability, trouble concentrating, fatigue, digestive issues and changes in appetite. That includes adrenal fatigue.
It’s estimated that 80 percent of people will suffer with some form adrenal fatigue sometime in their lives. If somebody is struggling with chronic fatigue on a regular basis or has thyroid issues, adrenal issues or hormonal issues, drinking coffee can actually exacerbate the problem. That caffeine is really the main issue with coffee, as it will burn out your adrenal glands because it can be an addictive stimulant.
Do you think you were created to rely on stimulants all the time? Of course not. So if you have adrenal, thyroid or hormonal issues — or have a chronic illness — you may want to stay away from coffee and other caffeinated drinks because it can get in the way healing adrenal fatigue and other issues.
But if you’re already generally healthy — you just struggle with some circulation issues or you’re trying to support the brain and you don’t have an autoimmune disease or any type of thyroid or adrenal issue — in that case, consuming coffee in moderate amounts can be fine and even good for your health.
2. Can Alter Mood and Increase Anxiety
Because coffee contains caffeine, which is a substance that alters both mood and physiology, there are some downsides and risks associated with coffee drinking. Caffeine in coffee has the ability to impact hormones, neurotransmitters function, nerve signaling and muscles. This is especially true if you have existing health conditions — like anxiety, heart problems or diabetes — or if you turn to coffee to help change how you feel and to disguise underlying fatigue.
If you suffer from ongoing stress and trouble with nervousness, a natural anxiety remedy might be avoiding caffeine in addition to sugar and other stimulants.
Do the Benefits of Drinking Coffee Outweigh the Negatives?
It’s best to consume coffee in the morning or before lunch, because if you start drinking it in the afternoon or especially in the evening, the life of caffeine in the coffee and how long it will affect your body can be around 12 hours. So if you consume it in the afternoon, it can definitely affect your sleep cycle that night. Many people who drink coffee late in the day can’t sleep, and their overall quality of sleep can be negatively impacted.
So do the benefits of drinking coffee outweigh the negatives? The truth is it just really depends on your body and if you have one of these conditions that coffee can make worse.
Coffee can be a nice little pick-me-up for those who don’t have many issues with consuming it. However, make sure to buy organic, natural coffee if you’re going to consume it. Why? Because coffee is one of the most highly sprayed with pesticides plants in the entire world today. And if coffee is too much of a risk — or you’re looking for a slightly healthier option — opt for herbal teas instead.
Matcha green tea is an amazing superfood that has about a third the amount of caffeine as coffee; also the health benefits of white tea, rooibos tea and oolong tea are tremendous, and those have about one-third the amount of caffeine compared to coffee as well.
I know there’s a lot of coffee lovers out there, so if your body does well with coffee, you can continue to get the benefits of drinking coffee. Just remember to drink it earlier in the day and consume an organic brand. But for other people who have negative reactions to drinking coffee, herbal teas may be better options.
If you want to learn more about the best foods and beverages to consume, make sure you subscribe here to my Dr. Axe YouTube channel.
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