- Heather Woodruff
Is Coffee Good for your Gut?
Coffee!!! Yes, I’m going there today.
I feel this is one of the most loved beverages on the planet and one with the most confusion behind it. ‘Is coffee healthy for me?!’ is a question I get a lot (often asked very tentatively as coffee lovers are usually terrified of what my answer may be).
But coffee isn’t a clear cut ‘yay or nay’, it’s a big ‘ol fat ‘it depends’.
The health benefits of coffee
1. High in Antioxidants Coffee beans show more antioxidant activity than even green tea! It contains antioxidants like quinines which actually become more potent after roasting.
Two other key antioxidants in coffee are chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid which protect our cells in the body from damage and stress.
2. Brain Boosting Coffee has been shown to support cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain. Research shows that even a single cup of coffee can provide a short-term memory boost and increase in concentration. Coffee and caffeine have even been researched widely as a natural treatment for neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
3. Anti-cancer properties The link between coffee and cancer has been researched for decades and there are some mixed reviews on this, but the polyphenols found in coffee do seem to show anti-carcinogenic properties and research associated it with a lower risk of several kinds of cancers like colon, liver, prostate, endometrial and melanoma.
4. Enhance Athletic Performance Coffee encourages your adrenal glands to pump out extra energy hormones helping to give you a little more ‘pep in your step’ during your workout. Research has shown it to improve endurance and increase muscular strength however a new study suggests that those that consume caffeine on a regular basis (not just for a workout) will not see the same benefits as those who use it strictly before their gym session.
While the above are some pretty good pros I want to encourage you to not just blindly jump on the coffee band wagon without getting a clear picture of your health. For example if you suffer from poor memory, fatigue or brain fog it’s important to get to the root of these symptoms rather than a quick-fix with coffee or caffeine. Why do you find yourself dragging your feet every workout? Why can’t you think straight in the morning?
Which brings me to the cons of coffee 1. Addictive Oh is it ever! Many can become reliant on the caffeine in coffee to keep their energy up through the day and make them feel human in the morning. If you need coffee to function, stay focused or prevent a headache, you are probably addicted to it.
When it comes to lack of energy it’s important to look deeper into your overall health and diet picture rather than relying on caffeine: are you not getting the right nutrients? Are you not digesting the right nutrients? Or are you potentially consuming an unknown food sensitivity that’s bogging down your body?
2. Overstimulating to the Gut Caffeine stimulates digestion so food passes through the intestines more quickly which can lead to diarrhea, nausea and even vomiting. Many even find it to be a big trigger for their heart burn, GERD or acid reflux. It’s difficult for nutrients from food to be absorbed efficiently when it is moving too quickly through the digestive tract and poor absorbtion can actually be the cause of low energy!
Also, relying on coffee/caffeine to have a bowel movement is a band-aide solution and not getting to the root of your constipation issues. Try the 3 Day Meal Plan for a bowel boost!
3. May increase Anxiety People often forget what a powerful stimulant caffeine can be, meaning it triggers the release of adrenaline activating your ‘fight or flight’ response and can make anxiety worse. Too many cups of coffee can lead to overall nervousness, moodiness, agitation, restlessness and insomnia.
For some people the caffeine-induced buzz can lead to ‘jitters’, rapid heart-rate which may intensify anxiety and panic disorders.
It’s also important to note that everyone’s tolerance or ability to metabolize caffeine is very different and usually dependent on your genetics. One person could be bouncing off the walls with a single cup while another can sleep like a baby (or mama of a baby) after a dinnertime triple espresso. Know your limit!
4. May lead to Insomnia
If you find yourself a daily coffee consumer and struggling with insomnia you may be stuck in a vicious caffeine cycle. You might not be sleeping well at night because of your caffeine consumption so therefore exhausted during the day and relying on caffeine to keep you up and the daily cycle continues. Trying to eliminate coffee after noon each day may be a good place to start to get your circadian rhythm back into balance.
So where do you go from here? The first step is to pay attention… How do you feel when you have coffee or just as importantly; how do you feel when you don’t?
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