Like many things in health and nutrition, when it comes to coffee, the answer to “is coffee healthy or not?” is: it depends on each individual person and their body’s chemistry. But some absolutes will always remain true for all of us: artificial sweeteners, sugar, and especially hydrogenated, sugar-laden processed creamer are not good for us and should be avoided.
So are the downfalls of drinking coffee bad enough to outweigh its benefits?
Let’s take a look. Coffee can be potentially harmful in a number of ways:
- Addiction: Consuming the same substance every single day can lead to dependence and going a day without it will trigger symptoms of withdrawal. Solution? Try to stay within 1-2 coffee cups per day and try not to turn it into a daily habit.
Sensitive gut: Caffeine can be a gut irritant. If you have a sensitive gut, coffee may not be a great choice for you.
- Insomnia: Drinking coffee later in the day is strongly linkedto insomnia, which is in turn linked to a list of health negatives. Keep the coffee for mornings unless you’re having it decaf.
- Anxiety: Caffeine seems to decrease levels of GABA, a chemical in our bodies that helps regulate anxiety, and it amplifies the effects of our two main stress hormones, cortisol and epinephrine. Anyone with an anxiety condition should be careful with coffee consumption.
But there’s a bright side too:
- May protect against diabetes:
Studies have shown that daily consumption could decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by protecting cells from the accumulation of toxic proteins that play an important role in the development of diabetes.
Improves workout performance: Studies have also shown that coffee can help improve athletic performance, mobilize fat from cells, and increase stamina.
- Rich in antioxidants: Coffee can be a potent antioxidant source, and recent studies have shown that most of us get more antioxidants from coffee than from any other source. It’s important that we balance things out and make sure we’re also getting them from more nutrient dense fruits and vegetables, as well as vitamin C rich foods.
And some bonus good news: Coffee can make many of us happy!
Let’s end with one that’s both scientifically valid and psychologically true – a major reason why we like coffee is that it elevates mood and bolsters energy, at least for a little while.
Still asking yourself whether you should drink coffee?
What’s clear is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Carefully pay attention to your body and observe how it reacts to coffee. Take note also of your energy and concentration levels and tweak your coffee intake from there. And as all things go regarding health and nutrition… everything in moderation.