Coffee - Friend or Foe?
Like Carbohydrates, Coffee has a bad reputation.
I’m here to stick up for it a little because Coffee is not the bad guy here, it’s the way in which it’s used, just like Crack - no wait - crack is definitely always bad no matter how it’s used.
When we think of coffee we often associate it with something we should feel guilty for consuming. This is often because of it’s over stimulating effects on the brain and body, dehydration (although this is still being debated) and of course last but not least the damaging pesticides that are used on coffee plants that can still make their way into our gut and are damaging the environment.
These above points are all valid, but are totally manageable and don’t even need to be an issue if the human consuming the coffee makes an educated choice about when they have coffee, and what type of coffee.
Before I tell you how to drink your coffee, like the bossy little PT I am … I’m going to tell you a little about caffeine - which happens to be the most consumed psychoactive substance in the world. It usually takes 60-90 minutes to take effect and it’s not just found in coffee - black tea, green tea, oolong tea, mate, colas, cacao and cocoa powders also contain caffeine.
Caffeine is believed to impact on mood and performance by inhibiting the binding of both adenosine and benzodiazepine receptor ligands to brain membranes. As these neurotransmitters are known to slow down brain activity, a blockade of their receptors lessens this effect. (1)
Basically, coffee makes us feel a whole lot more alert and capable. Coffee makes us feel like Jason Bourne or Evelyne Salt. Or maybe that’s just me.
Coffee usually gets it’s naughty reputation from caffeine which is essentially yet another drug that is abused by humans. We abuse the use of caffeine by using it when we are tired - rather than trying to get more sleep, or eat better food, or drink more water. We treat the symptom (tiredness) with stimulation - thereby forcing the body to be alert, when it’s really asking for rest. Those of us that have busy working schedules have probably more than once abused caffeine in an effort to ‘get the job done’ even at the mercy of the body and it’s adrenal needs.
How to drink Coffee like a (Healthy) Boss:
Use it as a pre-workout: Instead of just using it before you spend 7-8 hours sitting at a desk to keep you awake, use it to excite your CNS (Central Nervous System) before an intense workout. It’s much healthier than the rubbish you find in synthetic and highly processed, potentially carcinogenic pre-workouts. Caffeine takes about 60-90 minutes to hit you so be sure to have it with enough time before you start lifting or sprinting!
Drink quality organic coffee: Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide commonly used against coffee pests and has been banned in the US for household use as it has caused human death and birth defects. Endosulfan is another one that doesn’t breakdown easily (so it’s toxic to the environment as well) and it also affects the CNS, reproductive organs, kidneys and liver. It’s worse than the pest itself. Our beautiful bodies have enough to detoxify these days with pollution and poisons all around us. By choosing organic coffee not only are you helping the environment, but you are also supporting your own internal environment by alleviating the body from one more poison to detoxify.
Use it in conjunction with your own natural cortisol spike and circadian rhythms: Some people, Italians mostly 😉 , can get away with having an espresso at night time, while still getting to sleep. I however can not and if I did, people would be questioning what ‘other ingredients’ may have ended up in the coffee too. When you wake up, the body will naturally release hormones to encourage alertness and energy for your day ahead. Having a coffee in the morning will just give you a little more energy, without disturbing the natural process of those incredible neurotransmitters.
Hydrate before you Caffeinate: There is actually some conflicting research that suggests that neither caffeine or coffee dehydrate the body. However there is enough proof that states that coffee can have a diuretic effect. I most certainly feel the effects of coffee dehydrating me, and have seen it on the dry lips many other people that you can tell drink too much coffee and not enough water.
No more milk: Ok I’m going to have a vegan moment here (even though I am not a vegan) Milk is bad m’kay (#southpark). Check out this video - seriously, it’s really important to know what milk actually is. That goes for skim milk too. Soy has shown to effect hormonal balances, in particular oestrogen, so best not to over use (you can read up on a thousand an one studies with a quick google search) I prefer to use rice, oat milk or coconut oil in my coffee. The fat with your coffee can slow the caffeine release so that it’s not such a huge and intense spike which would usually leave you feeling jittery and nervous.
Just have coffee - stop putting sugar or some kind of Starbucks approved, synthetic, ‘sugar-less’ syrup in it. It’s not good for you. We’ve all read the effects of excessive sugar and synthetics on the body, unfortunately the very people that have looked down upon the consumption of delicious french desserts made by hundred year old recipes, hypocritically hold a ‘fat-free’ caramel latte from Starbucks in their hand. Pick your poisons - I’ll choose French Chef over synthetic caramel any day.
Happy Organic Coffee consumption!
Where are your favourite coffee places in London? I’d love to hear about them, comment below!