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This is part 2 of How Good Coffee is for You. You may be wondering at this point why I am giving you so much information about the benefits of coffee. It is because when you are tired, fatigued, brain fogged, and as a result of that you are easily upset and frustrated with yourself, you are more likely to reach for sugar and simple carbs to get energy to get some energy and feel calmer. This effect will only last a short time and you will have eaten who knows how many empty and probably fattening calories.
Coffee can help you feel more alert, less fatigued and brain fogged through the day. When your brain is operating better you will likely be making better decisions and feel on top of things rather than crushed by them, thereby far better able to avoid temptations of eating empty calorie foods and following carb cravings. Caffeine has a half life so it helps you for a longer time than sugar and simple carbs. That’s also the reason you want to stop drinking cover many hours before you plan to go to sleep. Generally late afternoon, after that mid-day slump is late enough.
Consider drinking it black. That means no dairy, no fake flavored substitute and no sweeteners of any kind to keep your sweet craving active, and you will get no calories I believe. Good coffee tastes good without all the extras that cover up it’s flavor.
In part 1 I primarily listed research findings that show the physical health benefits, such as the relief or prevention of chronic diseases of all kinds. I was so surprised to find so much information of this sort, and I bet you were too. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, grab a cup of coffee, and take a read, you can skim as I bolded the highlights. This researchy stuff can be, well, stuffy to some.
It seems from reading about the coffee bean’s benefits, you can’t generalize these findings to all caffeine sources such as chocolate, soda, and tea, unless the source cited specifically says you can. So if you think you can’t handle coffee, but find yourself eating chocolate, drinking cokes and pepsi like drinks, and drinking ice tea that is non-herbal, think about stopping those to avoid feeling jittery or acidic or whatever the symptoms are that you think you are avoiding by not drinking a cup or two of coffee in the morning, and try coffee again.
I’ve listed some more benefits, especially for people over 50, the age when low energy, poor memory, slower response times, slower thinking and problem solving and other signs of natural aging are being noticed as they are creeping in. Caffeine in teens and young adults can have a harmful effect.
As a daily reader of oodles of research on the effects of things we put in our mouth and body, I find coffee studies comparing people who drink coffee everyday with those who do not drink coffee, show that those who drink coffee score significantly better on tests and experiments that measure for fatigued and energy level, memory recall times, other response times such as when driving, poorer driving records, speed of thinking and comprehending and problem solving skills.
Usually too much of anything is not a good thing and what’s good for one body/mind isn’t necessarily good for another’s. But to blanketly cut out all coffee drinking for the rest of your life when there is benefit to your daily experience makes no sense to me. Neither does blaming or naming it as a drug. Stimulants in pill form, herbal or prescribed are too.
I say the same thing about foods, because our body changes as we live/age and so do its reactions and needs. We develop new and lose existing food intolerances, for example, and I say the same can be true of the way coffee shows up in your body. And I think coffee may get erroneously blamed for causing problems it isn’t the cause of. Food for thought. Try a half cup of coffee to see how you respond to this stimulating drug called caffeine. Go about your day and see if you’re any different in any of the areas I’ve listed. Just a reminder, that you can purchase coffee with one-half of the acid or low acid content. Trader Joe’s has a bold French Roast of this.
The Research Findings
I’m in good company here. This interview with a doctor in the Harvard School of Public Health who is studying coffee said ” Yes, research over the past few years suggests that coffee consumption may protect against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, and liver cirrhosis. And our latest study on coffee and mortality found that people who regularly drank coffee actually had a somewhat lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease than those who rarely drank coffee; this result needs to be confirmed in further studies, however. This is a pretty active area of research right now, and it’s not at the stage where we would say, “Start drinking coffee to increase your health even if you don’t like it.” But I think the evidence is good that for people in general—outside of a few populations, such as pregnant women, or people who have trouble controlling their blood pressure or blood sugar—coffee is one of the good, healthy beverage choices.”
Candy Sagon wrote “The health benefits of coffee just keep picking up steam” in AARP‘s February/March 2014 magazine, page 14. The studies she includes show that:
1. Coffee drinkers may live longer The National Institute for Health and AARP studied 400,00 older adults comparing regular coffee drinkers and non-drinkers.
2. When 3 cups a day were drunk by older adults with mild cognitive impairment, the chances of them getting dementia or Alzheimer’s was less than in non-drinkers with mild cognitive impairment, found Florida researchers.
3. An Australian study found that muscles recovered faster after exercise in people who drank several cups after working out.
-In the first issue for 2015 of Psychology Today magazine, Holly Pevzner wrote “Building the Perfect Day” and put drinking coffee in twice a day– yep, morning and at 2:15 PM. And she said something I haven’t read before which is to wait and drink coffee between 9:30 and 11:30. This, she points out, is because the body’s naturally releasing hormone for making us feel alert and awake, cortisol, releases into our system before that. Cortisol is released by our circadian rhythm cycle to wake us out of sleep, and is highest between 8 and 9 AM she says. This means that the first cup of coffee if drunk then won’t do much and can increase our natural circadian rhythm. Fascinating!
–Coffee is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants says this writer. for Popular Science blog. (scroll down to the end)
-The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded consumption of coffee had beneficial effects on subclinical inflammation and HDL cholesterol. Other sources support these findings by indicating that the anti-oxidants in coffee will neutralize certain free radicals in the body which cause inflammation.
-Coffee consumption is shown to lower the risk of depression in women. Health Watch aired findings where certain chemicals in coffee lower the risk of depression. Studies indicate the more coffee you drink, the less likely you are to be depressed. According to research results by Alberto Ascherio, MD, DrPH and team at the Harvard School of Public Health, women who regularly drink four or more cups of coffee a day have a 20 percent lower risk for developing depression than those who rarely or never drink coffee.
So many woman I work with are tired, fatigued, have trouble thinking things through to a reasonable end from which to take action that will please them. Yes, they need to get 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night. Yes, they need to drink plenty of water and eat whole food. Yes, yes and yes to all of the other recommendations you know to do like exercise, leisure time, self care, meditation or the like, but how many of those are they regularly engaging in? If coffee can help them think better and feel more awake, and help them fend off other health problems, why not drink some?
Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below. And as always, check with your doctor if she/he told you to avoid coffee, find out why exactly and if there is any amount that might be ok for you. The goal here is to feel better, mentally, emotionally and physically.