Coffee: Is it good or bad for us? So many conflicting reports exist about both the benefits and drawbacks of coffee and needless to say, it can be a confusing topic. First, let's discuss what makes coffee such a hot topic widely disputed in today's health circles.
While there are many controversies about coffee's role in the prevention of Parkinson's disease to breast cancer, I'm mostly interested in the conversation relating to its effect on blood sugar metabolism. In my latest book, The Blood Sugar Solution, I explain how insulin resistance and inflammation are at the core of modern-day chronic diseases.
The single most important healthy habit all of us can adopt is to manage our blood sugar by decreasing the triggers that push it out of balance. Curious if coffee is one of those triggers?
As Dr. Walter C. Willet of Harvard School of Public Health says, "Coffee is an amazingly potent collection of biologically active compounds." Like any food-like substance, coffee has far-reaching effects on the body and needs to be respected as a potent drug.
Caffeine, perhaps the most widely appreciated "drug" compound in coffee, only makes up a mere 1 to 2 percent of the bean. The chlorogenic acids, caffeol, polyphenols, phytoestrogens and diterpenes are now beginning to be researched on their effects on human health and glucose metabolism as well.
In the 1980s and 1990s several prospective cohort studies were done to investigate the correlation between coffee and diabetes. Many of those studies reported that there is an inverse dose-dependent association with the risk of Type 2 diabetes. This means that for reasons still unclear, all those research studies found that the more coffee people with normal blood sugar drank, the less risk appeared for developing Type 2 diabetes. Several constituents in coffee might be responsible for these consistent findings.
Chlorogenic acid in coffee might inhibit glucose-6-phosphatase, an enzyme that regulates blood sugar metabolism in the liver. It could also be due to the indisputably-high levels of antioxidants, which have a benign effect on insulin sensitivity.
Not surprisingly, the news channels then sounded the bell that coffee was protective, and we all enjoyed our cup of joe without any remorse.
Until the next report.
Some curious minds wanted to know exactly who was protected. And why? How? These studies showed that in people with Type 2 diabetes coffee intake was correlated with insulin spikes and increased blood sugar after a meal. Further research has shown that the caffeine in coffee might be the culprit responsible for the secretion of higher levels of insulin from the pancreas.
Clearly higher insulin and glucose levels are not the work we want to bestow on a body healing from insulin resistance. Considering that diabesity affects nearly 1.7 billion people worldwide and growing, the nightly news now sounded the alarm of caution that perhaps our coffee habit is a detrimental addiction needing to be kicked to the curb.
I often am asked why coffee is removed from my programs. While certain populations of people may tolerate coffee and even enjoy some health benefits, it is evident that it is not for everyone.
Chances are if you are reading this either you or someone you care about is sick, inflamed, hormonally imbalanced, nutritionally-compromised, overworked, stressed out, fatigued, depressed, and toxic. Coffee is not part of the medicine required for your healing.
It's a wise experiment to provide yourself a break from coffee intake and see what it feels like to live your life on your own fuel. Remove coffee and caffeine safely from your system and see how authentically energized you feel!
Those who consume the most caffeine, alcohol and sugar, and those who have the highest toxic load, tend to have the most difficulty initially. In any event, symptoms of withdrawal usually disappear after three or four days. It is best to slowly reduce your intake of caffeine and coffee.
I know this is a difficult goal, but I assure you that your body and mind will thank you. The sense of calm, clarity and restful sleep will reward you with the simple pleasures of innate health and an energy that is rightfully yours.
We'd like to hear from you...
What have you tried to break free from caffeine and what worked best for you?
In the Hungry For Change Book we discuss the addictive nature of caffeine and when consumed in large quantities, can lead to adrenal fatigue. Coffee is also a diuretic, meaning it purges water from your body. That said, if you want to function at a high level and remain well hydrated, then it would be a better choice to replace coffee with a natural alternative. The list below provides some great tasting substitutes.
Teeccino Caffeine-free Herbal Coffee
This coffee alternative is popular among those who have removed regular coffee from their diets because it tastes very similar to coffee but is caffeine free. A mix of carob, barley, chicory nuts and other flavors (there are all kinds of varieties) it is truly tasty, can be brewed like coffee (in a French press, via tea bags or in an espresso machine), and mixes nicely with milk, soy milk or just plain honey if you’re more of a black coffee/milk-free person.
If you're not necessarily seeking a coffee taste, this herbal tea with numerous health benefits is a great choice. Not only does Yerbe Mate taste great hot or cold but it has powerful antioxidant properties, and it can also accelerate weight loss as it revs up the metabolism.
Green tea has less caffeine than a cup of coffee but enough to give you a boost without any of the coffee jitters. Its also packed with Catechins, which are powerful antioxidants and potent disease fighters.
Licorice tea is actually caffeine-free, but supports overburdened adrenal glands, which are organs that respond to stress. “Licorice is an adrenal tonic and increases energy. It adds a pleasant taste to tea blends and can also be taken in tincture form,” explain Dr. Linda B. White and Steven Foster, authors of TheHerbal Drugstore.
This natural energizer is known as a liquid shot of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Some people don’t mind the taste and others do, but all agree that wheatgrass is one of the most nourishing juices. “Because of its easy digestibility and rapid assimilation, it’s a natural energy supplement, whether alone or added to a protein-type supplement drink,” says Gloria Gilbère, doctor of natural health.
If you’re looking for a unique coffee alternative, try mushrooms in the form of tea. A staple in traditionalChinese medicine, the soft, flat reishi mushroom makes for one invigorating (and healthy) libation. White and Foster recommend combining 1/3 ounce of chopped or powdered reishi mushroom with 3 cups of water, then bringing the tea to a boil and simmering for 30 minutes before drinking in doses.
Rooibos is another full-flavored tea that can be mixed with any kind of milk and has plenty of flavor all on its own as well. It's a refreshing pick me up and some health experts say it has immune-boosting properties.
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