Is Coffee Healthy?

If I’m being honest, I’m not sure I could skip my morning coffee. Not only do I enjoy the taste and effect, but it’s a little ritual I look forward to. I’m always glad to see research suggesting the possible health benefits of my daily cup of Joe. 

But it’s not without controversy, of course. There are some serious disadvantages to caffeine, some of which may even outweigh the health benefits. What’s important is knowing how your body reacts and noting how you feel when drinking caffeine. I stick to one cup a day because I tend to have trouble sleeping with more than that, but you may feel best with two cups or none at all.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of coffee’s health effects to discover whether or not this drink can actually be considered “healthy”.

PROS:

  • Regular coffee drinking can lower the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Regular black coffee is low in calories and provides a large number of antioxidants.
  • A typical cups contains B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and other nutrients.
  • At least one cup per day has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 11%.
  • Multiple cups per day has been shown to reduce the rate of depression in women.
  • Multiple cups per day can have cardiovascular health benefits.
  • Caffeine is a stimulant and has been shown to boost brain function, and improve mood, reaction time and alertness.
  • Caffeine can boost the metabolism and increase exercise performance.
  • Studies have shown that coffee drinkers have up to a 65% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and a 32-60% lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.

CONS

  • Perhaps the most obvious, caffeine can drastically impact your sleep. Avoid drinking after 2 pm if you’re sensitive to its effects.
  • The caffeine in coffee increases catecholamines, also known as stress hormones. The stress response elicits cortisol and increases insulin, consequently increasing inflammation, which makes us feel bad.
  • The acidity of coffee can have health risks for the digestive system. So for those suffering with IBS, Crohn’s Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis, coffee can be dangerous, especially as it can lead to acid reflux and gastric emptying.
  • Excessive coffee drinking can increase the rate of “fight-and-flight” response in individuals by increasing stress and tension levels. While the increased heart rate induced by caffeine does help us stay alert, sometimes coffee can make us too alert.
  • Those who become too dependent on coffee for everyday functioning are at risk for caffeine withdrawal, which can induce symptoms like fatigue, headache, and nausea.
  • A cup of black coffee is one thing, but it’s another story when you add in chemical-laden creamers and sugar. Unhealthy additions to coffee can be a big con.

While there are certainly associated risks with caffeine, they don’t necessarily outweigh the benefits. However, if you don’t feel your best when drinking coffee, or if you suffer from IBD, IBS, or other conditions with which caffeine reacts adversely, below are healthy alternatives to getting your daily fix!

  • All other health benefits aside, green tea contains the perfect amount of caffeine for the person who needs an energy kick but doesn’t want to overdo it. In fact, green tea contains less caffeine than black tea, so it is recommended for those who are looking to reduce caffeine levels in their diets.
  • Incorporating maca root powder into your diet is a healthy way to replace coffee. Maca root powder may increase energy and mental clarity without the jittery feeling you may get with coffee. It can also support adrenal function and reduce chronic fatigue. Try adding a teaspoon into your morning smoothie or yogurt.
  • Beet juice powder also blends well into smoothies and yogurt, and can increase energy levels by promoting blood circulation. As the movement of blood transports oxygen throughout the body, our muscles have more potential energy.

Whether you choose coffee or other natural sources of energy, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of the health benefits and risks in order to decide which method is right for you!