Updated: Apr 16, 2019
Yes, I start my day with coffee! A few small changes to your morning brew will leave with longer lasting energy and the confidence of a health and environmental warrior.
As the most widely used mood-altering drug in the world, and one of the top 100 most trades goods worldwide (not the second as once claimed) the coffee debate continues. To brew or not to brew, that is the question. Some studies claim that coffee consumption will lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, while boosting exercise performance, helping to burn fat during exercise, reduce pain, promote weight loss, increase concentration and reduce the risk of suicide.
Other studies claim that coffee consumption negatively affects blood sugar levels (and thus weight loss), negatively impacts digestion, increases anxiety, contributes to insomnia, stains your teeth and contributes to enamel erosion, and has detrimental effects to those with adrenal fatigue and hypertension, not to mention a heavy impact on your wallet.
Here are few considerations as you determine what's best for you.
1. Coffee beans do have antioxidant properties, but how the beans are grown and harvested affects the quality of those antioxidants. Worse yet, the pesticides sprayed on the beans pose an even bigger problem. Look for the terms "certified organic", "shade grown" and if you're an over-achiever, the "bird friendly" certification is shade grown, certified organic, and meets fair-trade requirements. Talk about a triple win. The higher the coffee standards, the higher the antioxidants as well. *Note, the terms "organically grown" and "certified organic" are not the same thing; choose certified organic. Between the terms "Fair Trade Certified' and "Fairtrade" choose "Fairtrade", as these standards are higher. Tricky, tricky...
2. Caffeine is an addictive substance that has no nutritional benefits on its own. Coffee is a CNS stimulant and can have negative side effects when used in any amount. For those with adrenal fatigue (which I think affects many more Americans than we realize) caffeine consumption will only make the symptoms worse.
As someone who has dealt with adrenal fatigue after many years of powering through college, work, and life, restoring my adrenals has given me longer lasting energy than any cup of joe.
What we add to our coffee has just as big an impact on our health as the coffee itself. Sugar is an even more addictive substance than coffee (and will one day be classified as a drug) while the standard milk and cream offered in most coffee shops is produced from non-organic, corn-fed cows. I support and recommend unsweetened coffee with unsweetened milk alternatives or organic milks if you tolerate dairy. Keep the coffee to under 20oz a day and cut yourself off at least eight hours before bed for restful sleep.
Final thoughts: There is an implication of morality around food, that the more pure we eat the better human we are. What a bunch of crap. Whatever you choose to eat or drink, organic or conventional, don't buy into the idea that you'd be a better human if you only ate according to labels and names.