As I sit here with my morning coffee I question whether I'm drinking too much of it on a weekly basis. Coffee has become engrained in our culture - we meet friends for coffee, have meetings over coffee, coffee shops have become cool places. But is coffee causing us more harm than good?
What are the problems?
- People cope with caffeine in different ways. Some really struggle to metabolise caffeine.
- It can make some people feel irritable or lethargic after a few hours.
- It can disrupt sleep patterns and you may struggle to get to sleep.
- Usually coffee is consumed during periods of stress. This can be work, personal or lifestyle related (being a sedentary person and having a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugars for example).
- Chronic coffee consumption will only increase the stress placed on the body and can lead to a sharp rise of blood pressure (due to increased cortisol) and compound problems with insulin resistance.
- Quality matters! Most instant coffees contain a category 2 carcinogen called Acrylamide. Make sure you know where your coffees coming from and what's going into it.
The good part
- Some of us metabolise coffee very quickly and can use it to increase alertness and energy levels for a short period of time.
- Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants - more so than green tea!
- Coffee is a great pre workout drink. Black coffee with a high caffeine content has been proven to help mobilise fatty acids and use them as fuel.
What's the verdict?
- If you have withdrawal symptoms (irritable or lethargic) or can't live without coffee reduce your intake.
- If you can go without coffee for a few days and have no side effects you don't need to be too concerned with the amount you are drinking.
- Do a bit of trial and error to see which type of coffee drinker you are. Don't drink more than 1-2 cups a day.
- Take a break every fortnight or month so you can assess your dependance on coffee.
Remember the benefits of coffee only come with high quality coffee. As soon as you start using poor quality coffee or start adding cream, sugar or flavours to it you start negating the positive effects.