Ah… there is nothing quite so comforting as a hot cup of coffee on a chilly morning, or for that matter, anytime. Just the aroma of the brewed beans seems to instill happy feelings in me. But is it true that coffee can actually do more than promote good feelings and enrich our time with friends?
I was curious as to whether science could help me justify my one-two cup a day affair with my friend “Joe,” or whether I should stick to my organic green tea, which I know has tremendous health merits. Here is what I found out… note, if you are a coffee drinker you will love this.
Coffee boosts metabolism
Caffeine has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system, which raises metabolism and increases the oxidation of fatty acids. It also mobilizes fatty acids from fat tissues, and there is good evidence that it increases athletic performance.
Now, I would be wrong to suggest that you go on a an all-coffee diet, of course. However, drinking a couple of cups a day, along with eating a healthy and balanced diet, won’t hurt and might just help you maintain a healthy weight.
Coffee may reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes
Type ll diabetes in our country is skyrocketing in America and now afflicts almost 1 in 8 people. Coffee appears to do a good job regulating blood sugar. Numerous studies demonstrate that coffee has been associated with a 23% to 67% lower risk of diabetes.
A review of 18 studies involving almost 460,000 participants found that each additional cup of coffee per day lowered the risk of diabetes by 7%. Interestingly enough, the more coffee that study participants drank the lower their risk. Researchers claim that people who drink several cups of coffee per day are less likely to develop diabetes.
Coffee improves mood and brain power
Now, this is one I can totally agree on. I always feel better after a cup of coffee, and I was never quite sure why until I dug a little deeper. According to research, drinking coffee can also boost your brain power and your mood.
Caffeine blocks the effects that the neurotransmitter adenosine has on the brain. By doing so, the caffeine increases brain activity and the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. Controlled trials have examined the effects that caffeine has on the brain and have found that it improves mood, reaction time, memory and overall cognitive function.
Coffee improves liver health
Optimal liver function is vital to health. The results of our modern life, such as a poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption, cause the liver to work at less than full speed. Numerous studies have indicated that coffee lowered the risk of cirrhosis by up to 80 percent in people who drank four or more cups of coffee per day. Coffee may also reduce the risk of liver cancer by 40 percent.
Coffee has nutrients and antioxidants
Coffee beats fruits and vegetables as the best source of antioxidants in the American diet. Many people think that coffee is nothing but black water. Well, you can now tell them that they are wrong. Here are percentages of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) contained in one cup of coffee:
- 6% RDA for vitamin B5
- 11% RDA for vitamin B2
- 2% RDA for B3 and B1
- 3% RDA for potassium and manganese
Drink a few cups and you will have consumed quite a few essential vitamins and minerals for the day!
Besides the five benefits of coffee listed above, I also uncovered a few more that have garnered the attention of researchers and coffee lovers alike:
Coffee may improve circulation
A recent study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013 shows that the caffeine in coffee may help improve the function of small blood vessels. These findings add to a growing body of research of the health benefits of coffee, the world’s most loved beverage (alongside tea).
Coffee may shield DNA from harm
A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition has found that drinking coffee on a regular basis may offer some protection to our DNA against oxidative damage, which, if left unchecked, can underlie many illnesses.
The authors of the new study wrote, “Coffee consumption has been reported to decrease oxidative damage in peripheral white blood cells (WBC). However, effects on the level of spontaneous DNA strand breaks, a well-established marker of health risk, have not been specifically reported yet. We analyzed the impact of consuming a dark roast coffee blend on the level of spontaneous DNA strand breaks.”
From their analysis, the study authors summarized, “We conclude that regular coffee consumption contributes to DNA integrity.”
Reduced risk of tinnitus
A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine revealed that women who consumed higher amounts of caffeine were less likely to have tinnitus, which is a steady ringing or buzzing in the ear that can affect hearing.
Drinking coffee responsibly
After reading all about the benefits of a cup of coffee, you may be inclined to go brew yourself a cup. However, don’t throw caution to the wind here — there are some unhealthy coffee habits that should be avoided at all costs:
Adding non-dairy creamers: Non-dairy creamers may contain sodium caseinate, a chemically-altered and extruded form of casein, which in its final form is not even considered a dairy product by the FDA due to the sheer amount of chemicals used.
Powdered non-dairy coffee creamers frequently contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, or, as they are more commonly known, trans fats. Some brands contain up to one gram per tablespoon. Hydrogenated oils are created by adding chemical agents, sometimes metals such as platinum and nickel, to pressurized and already-processed oils to further alter their molecular structure.
There is no safe level of trans fats; they have been strongly linked to heart disease and other illnesses in multiple studies. Health professionals from all practices and philosophies generally agree on trans fats: It’s best to stay far, far away.
Instead of sugar, many non-dairy creamers contain corn syrup or corn syrup solids. Corn syrup solids are produced when corn starch is bathed in hydrochloric acid. For those unfamiliar, hydrochloric acid is an industrial chemical solution with highly corrosive properties that is also used in the manufacturing of plastics. Additionally, the corn itself is often derived from GMO varieties, adding all of the risk factors associated with GMOs to the toxic brew.
If these facts aren’t already scary enough, these imposter creamers often use sodium aluminosilicate as an anti-caking agent. The aluminum in this chemical compound has been linked to cell damage, bone disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and organ damage.
Sugar: Just a spoonful of sugar surely won’t hurt right? Well, that is wrong. Food manufacturers don’t want us to know what really happens to our bodies when we consume sugar. Most of us associate sugar with energy — and rightly so, it provides an immediate source of energy. However, unless you are an elite athlete, which most of us are not, this can be a major problem.
When sugar is consumed, the bonds between glucose and fructose are broken and the fructose goes straight to the liver where it is absorbed. If there is not an immediate need for energy, the fructose is stored as fat. The overconsumption of sugar also causes insulin resistance and completely turns our internal balance upside down.
In addition, every time fructose is processed, hydrogen peroxide is released inside cells. While hydrogen peroxide on a cut may be a good thing, it spells disaster to our cells. In fact, it kills our cells and accelerates the aging process.
Of course, the health implications of sugar are well documented. Here are just ten reasons why you should avoid it completely:
- Sugar suppresses the immune system.
- Sugar elevates blood sugar.
- Sugar disrupts mineral balance.
- Sugar disrupts digestion.
- Sugar causes tooth decay.
- Sugar contributes to obesity.
- Sugar can cause heart disease.
- Sugar can cause food allergies.
- Sugar can cause depression.
- Sugar increases the risk of certain cancers.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), water supplies in the United States are contaminated with over 140 chemicals that are not regulated by any safety standards.
When the EWG conducted their own test of water supplies serving 231 million people, they found more than 119 unregulated chemicals. This is not the whole story, either.
If you are on a public water line, it is likely that your household water supply is loaded with chlorine. Chlorination has been around for nearly 100 years. While chlorination eliminated waterborne diseases such as typhoid fever, hepatitis, dysentery and cholera, and is used now to keep bacteria at bay, mounting evidence strongly suggests that there is a downside to this heavily used substance.
In our bodies, chlorine breaks down and is not harmful. However, it is when chlorine reacts with organic materials that are already dissolved in the water, namely toxic disinfection byproducts (DBPs).
The two main DBPs that form when chlorine reacts with organic materials are trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs). THMs are classified as Cancer Group B carcinogens, and research has shown them to cause cancer in some lab animals.
These byproducts are 100 times more toxic than chlorine and have been associated with heart, lung, kidney, and central nervous system damage. There is growing concern that long-term use of chlorinated water may cause some cancers.
According to BreastCancerFund.org, “One common factor among women with breast cancer is that they all have 50 to 60 percent higher levels of these chlorination by-products (THMs) in their fat tissue than women without breast cancer…”
According to the United States Council on Environmental Quality, “The cancer risk to people who drink chlorinated water is 93 percent higher than among those whose water does not contain chlorine.”
Just think: What happens when you put a fish in chlorinated water? It dies. This is why fish owners have to use a de-chlorination tablet to keep their fish from sure demise.
Our suggestion is to purchase only high quality, organic coffee, make it with fresh filtered water, and stay clear of any dangerous additives. If you need a natural sweetener, try coconut crystals, raw honey or raw organic stevia.
Why I Add Fat to My Coffee
If you really want to take it up a notch, consider putting your coffee to work for you by adding some fat. Every morning there is one thing I drink (after my warm lemon water) that supercharges me for the rest of the day. I look forward intensely to my supercharged coffee each day, and feel down when I don’t get it!
Contrary to what you may think, most people are starved of healthy fats. Still swayed by the lipid hypothesis, many fear saturated fat because they think it will make them gain weight and clog their arteries. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Weight gain and clogged arteries are caused by consuming a diet high in refined sugars and denatured food. Healthy saturated fats, such as those found in raw nuts, organic, cold-pressed coconut oil, and organic grass-fed butter are necessary for healthy bodily function.
While mainstream health institutions say that getting 7 to 10 percent saturated fat is enough, other well-known researchers, such as Mary Enig Ph.D. claim that our diet should actually consist of more like 50 percent saturated fat. According to saturated fat expert Enig, healthy saturated fat is necessary for healthy bodily function.
If you take prescription or over-the-counter drugs, you especially want to keep your diet rich in saturated fat. It works well to protect the liver from the adverse effects of these dangerous chemicals.
Why organic grass-fed butter?
Conventional butter comes from cows who feed on genetically modified corn, soy, and other harmful substances. These cows are raised in confinement, are often pumped with antibiotics, and rarely see the light of day.
This butter is not only full of GMOs but is also much lighter in color and taste than organic, grass-fed butter, which has a rich, smooth taste and a pretty yellow color, which is indicative of its high-nutrient quality.
Most organic, whole food stores carry grass-fed butter, or you can try your local farmer’s market. Be sure to ask how the cows are raised before you purchase it.
Supercharged coffee recipe
To supercharge your coffee in the morning, do the following:
- Brew two large cups of organic coffee
- Add in 2 tablespoons of organic grass-fed butter
- Add 1 tablespoon of organic coconut oil or 30 grams of MCT
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth and enjoy! All this talk about coffee makes me want to go to the kitchen and brew a cup, how about you?
– Susan Patterson
Susan is the Content Director at The Alternative Daily, a Certified Health Coach, Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor and Master Gardener. With an extensive knowledge of whole foods and wellness, Susan enjoys educating others on how to live healthy and sustainable lives. She presently lives off grid in the middle of the New Mexican high desert with her three children and numerous animals.