Food Focus: Coffee

But You've read the shirts, seen the mugs and probably often felt like this yourself. I currently am sitting outside early on a steamy morning with a cup of organic dark roast.

So what is the deal with coffee? Is it totally toxic like some experts say? Does it have any health benefits? Should we have a cup a day or stay away? I've done a lot of research, for my own good mostly. Yes, I worked in NYC for many years and was highly addicted.

What really happens to our body when we drink caffeine?

Too much caffeine may increase feelings of anxiety, disrupt sleep, and irritate the stomach. While occasional doses of caffeine can relieve headache symptoms, the overuse of caffeine can cause headaches and lead to migraines. Caffeine interferes with ossification and could also lead to greater risk of bone fractures. This is dose dependent, but heavy caffeine consumers should pay attention. More than 4 cups a day (those are small, 8 oz cups - not the jumbo mugs we all carry around) is considered a high dose. Chronic coffee drinkers also have a risk of adrenal fatigue.

What are the health benefits of coffee?

Small amounts of caffeine in the diet can actually have a beneficial effect. In fact, research has shown caffeine can help increase athletic performance, focus, and alertness. Coffee is even now being looked at a natural treatment for Alzheimer's, according to Dr. Axe. It is full of antioxidants, but we should always purchase organic because it is a very heavily sprayed crop.

Why should we cut it out every once and awhile?

I often run group cleanses and one of the things that is always on the "no" list is caffeine. Why? A few reasons. Some listed above. Some listed below. Mostly, because when we cleanse we rid our bodies of the toxins it consumes on a daily basis and return to a state of slightly alkaline blood pH for optimal health. Caffeine is considered acidic. To read more about why that is important, click here. Also, part of doing a detox is to eliminate foods and beverages that might be irritating us in ways we don't realize. So taking them out and then adding them back in will let us know if we have a sensitivity. Many people feel better OFF coffee than ON, but would have never known had they not tried a few days without it!

Why does coffee make up poop?

Some studies have shown that the caffeine is stimulating the gut muscles to move faster leading to increased peristalsis (the the involuntary constriction and relaxation of the muscles of the intestine). Some studies have suggested that the milk, cream, or sugar in the coffee is the actual laxative and is indicative of a lactose intolerance. Still other studies have suggested that coffee is irritating to the stomach lining so this sends a signal to the bowel to empty so that it can get the coffee out of the stomach faster!

Including caffeine in the diet can be very bio-individual – some people look forward to their morning cup of coffee as a relaxing ritual, whereas others find that even small amounts of caffeine can cause jitteriness. Small to moderate amounts of caffeine can be part of a healthy diet, but if you find yourself constantly reaching for caffeine sources to get through your day, you may need to adjust your sleep schedule.

Sources and Additional Reading:

Institute for Integrative Nutrition, 2018

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I help busy mamas go from burnout to mental vigor using the gut brain axis.


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