Coffee is something that many people are obsessed with and perhaps addicted to. Let me be real. There was a time in my life when I was addicted to it. I used to drink nearly a pot a day. But I didn’t drink it black. Oh no, no. I drank it with fake cream and lots of sugar. (This was years and years ago). I didn’t realize the danger I was putting myself in back then, but now that I do, I hope to share with all of you some important information about coffee.

I’d like to start off with the good things about coffee. It is comforting and so many of us drink it socially with family and friends. Elements that bring family and friends together get high marks in my book. Coffee does give people a boost of energy when otherwise they may be dragging, though I now teach clients how to boost their energy naturally without stimulants. Studies on full-caffeine coffee drinkers did find that for those who drink 4 cups daily there is added health protection. In fact, for those who drink 4 cups of coffee daily, there is an associated drop in all-cause mortality of 16% and a 21% reduction in death by cardiovascular disease. This is good news for people who like their coffee.

There is a dark side to coffee, too. I believe people should know the good and the bad about their food. Like I tell my clients, these effects which I am about to discuss are bio-individual meaning the effect on people may vary from person to person.

Some people experience heartburn, or a little stomach upset after having coffee. There is a reason for that. Coffee stimulates a hormone in the digestive process called gastrin, which causes the stomach to produce acid and gastric peristalsis (contractions in the digestive tract). When consuming coffee, especially if you experience these things, it is best to drink it with food.

Coffee also stimulates the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin. This hormone (also known as CCK) stimulates the gallbladder to release bile, which isn’t a problem for someone with a healthy gallbladder because the bile that is released is sufficient and alkaline in pH so it neutralizes the acidic stomach contents (coffee and stomach acid that was released due to the gastrin). When a person with poor gall bladder health (or no gallbladder at all) drinks coffee, there isn’t the protective effect of bile to help keep the small intestine from being irritated by the acidic chyme (stomach contents). This can lead to irritation and inflammation in the small intestine. If you have poor bile flow due to biliary stasis or no gall bladder, please consume your coffee with food so that your other digestive organs produce the necessary protective compounds.

Coffee, even decaf varieties, has caffeine which is a stimulant. Caffeine is known to disrupt the normal sleep state, but even if you don’t notice a problem falling asleep, the caffeine half-life will ensure that your sleep cycles will not be optimal. This is because of caffeine’s effect on cortisol levels. This effect does diminish over time, but it is not possible to be 100% unaffected by caffeine. This stimulating substance increases your stress response because of the cortisol fluctuations from drinking it.

Speaking of caffeine, there are some people who just can’t process this compound well. These people are slow caffeine metabolizers and may not experience the cardiovascular benefits that some people do, rather they may experience high blood pressure and an elevated risk of heart attacks.

There have been studies done on coffee drinkers and it is interesting what was found. Even healthy individuals had increased inflammatory markers in their blood when drinking moderate amounts of coffee. Inflammatory markers are indicators of systemic inflammation and disease potential.

Another point to share is that compounds in coffee have a cholesterol-raising effect. Some people may be more sensitive to this than others. Granted, there are some beneficial compounds in coffee that are protective from liver cancer, however, they are filtered out when using a paper filter to make coffee.

Coffee is a tasty treat and a focal point for coffee house get-togethers, but that is just it. Coffee, though it has polyphenols and other plant chemicals that are health producing, should not be a dietary staple. Also, when consuming coffee it is always safest to consume it with food. But listen to your body. If you get heartburn or cramping after consuming coffee, it’s best to leave it on the table and choose something else to bring family and friends together.

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