Is Coffee healthy?

Coffee can be an abundant source of antioxidants beneficial for our health, with studies showing that it can help improve cognition, reduce risks of certain cancers and type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease. Interestingly, some of the health benefits might increase our gut microbiome diversity - which is central to a healthy gut.

Certain bacteria can help cultivate a better blood sugar response after meals, and improve insulin sensitivity. Coffee has been found to be associated with higher levels of some of these bacteria, and this might in part explain why coffee consumption has been linked with lower risks of Type 2 diabetes. 

However, if you are anything like me, you might not always be able to tolerate coffee. Coffee sometimes can make me jittery and anxious because I am a slow metabolizer, and if I'm consuming it during the later part of my menstrual cycle or in a heightened stressed state, it has a much bigger effect on me and can even give me tender breast/estrogen dominant symptoms. (The brand of coffee I drink makes a difference too).

The Breakdown On Coffee

So, is coffee good for you? As always, the answer is nuanced, and there is ‘no one-size-fits-all when it comes to nutrition. Let's break it down so that you can decide if coffee is for you or not.

We all handle caffeine differently, being either a fast or slow metabolizer of caffeine. Stay with me here ... 

The caffeine you ingest passes through your stomach and small intestine; it then enters the bloodstream shortly. 

The peak of your caffeine level is about 1 hour after you've consumed it, and then it begins to decrease gradually. The speed of this decline depends on your CYP1A2 gene; this gene controls an enzyme that is in charge of breaking down the caffeine in your body. We have variations in this gene (and a couple of others) that determine how we process caffeine. 

If you are a slow metabolizer, you naturally break down caffeine at a slower rate and are more likely to experience adverse side effects like jitteriness, anxiety, and insomnia. There is also some evidence that slow metabolizers may be at increased risk of increased blood pressure from coffee drinking. You can find out whether you are a fast or slow metabolizer via genetic testing, but to be honest, you can usually tell by how your body responds after a cup. 

On the other hand, if you are a fast metabolizer, you break down caffeine much faster, so it does not cause any negative effects. 

Now there IS an extra kicker for my female readers - coffee can interfere with our estrogen metabolism. 

Coffee and Estrogen

Estrogen and caffeine are both broken down in the liver by the CYP1A2 enzyme. Therefore, caffeine in excess can compete with estrogen for that same enzyme. This is why you may see some doctors recommending caffeine reduction in women with estrogen dominance symptoms, such as breast tenderness. If you've been told you have estrogen dominance, see if reducing caffeine consumption helps. 

Some preliminary data (small studies) showing some foods may alter caffeine metabolism, (e.g., broccoli may speed it up), grapefruit juice and quercetin may slow it down.

Should You Drink Coffee? 

Whether or not you should drink coffee is entirely up to you and how coffee makes you feel! 

But do I enjoy a cup of joe? 

Yes, I love the aromatic smell and taste of coffee and wish I was a fast metabolizer. I only drink it when:

  1. I am not already stressed/anxious. If I have meditated in the morning, coffee does not make me jittery and anxious. If I am already stressed, I avoid coffee because it will 100% make me more anxious. 
  2. During the follicular phase of my cycle (the first 14 days, with day 1 being the onset of my period), my estrogen level is lower, and I am not so affected.
  3. I eat broccoli sprouts/broccoli to help me metabolize the excess caffeine my body cannot metabolize. 
  4. I never drink coffee after midday, or it'll affect the quality of my sleep
  5. I mix it up with tea - tea polyphenols are associated with a healthy gut microbiome. This is my favorite CLEAN tea (triple screened for toxins) - affiliate discount code for Pique 'Platefulhealth'.

9 Things to Look for When Buying Quality Coffee

I am cautious with the quality of coffee I drink. Most coffees on the market contain:

  1. Pesticides (coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops)
  2. Mold
  3. Harmful chemicals like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon and acrylamide, released during the roasting process.

I drink Purity Coffee because:

  1. Every harvest tested for contaminants like glyphosate, heavy metals, and mold.
  2. Roasted to preserve high polyphenol levels contains, on average 65% more antioxidants than other leading organic coffees.
  3. Harmful compounds like PAH and acrylamide are minimized.
  4. After roasting, their packaging is nitrogen flushed to minimize oxidation.
  5. It tastes fantastic (I love their dark roast).
  6. Specialty grade organic
  7. They are growing high-quality coffee without the use of pesticides.
  8. Less than 1% of the coffee grown worldwide classifies as specialty grade organic.
  9. Their beans are harvested by hand and sorted for quality at the farm, and the beans easily pass the specialty green coffee standard for cuts, fungus, insect damage, or other defects.

For the most part, if you look for these nine things while shopping for your coffee, you should be set on finding a good quality cup. 

And if you’re interested in trying Purity Coffee, they have offered my audience 20% off + free shipping with an affiliate discount code Platefulhealth!