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Coffee. Healthy or Not?

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Is it healthful to drink coffee? If so, how much and why? 

I believe the healthiest part about drinking coffee is the social element since we are finding our social connections to be the greatest predictor of long- term happiness. Coffee also stimulates dopamine, our neurotransmitter that activates our pleasure centers in the brain and can enhance our experience in the moment. However, too much coffee can deplete our serotonin levels over time which can contribute to poor gut health, low immune function, poor memory, and can affect melatonin production leading to sleep issues. While dopamine is our pleasure enhancing hormone and is very short lived, serotonin is our the hormone that provides long lasting feelings of happiness and contentment. Personally, I try to only drink coffee if I can sip it from a mug allowing me to be more present and savor the moment. #mindfulcoffeedrinking

I recommend people aim to drink no more than 1-2 cups per day and try to include a good quality source from fair trade, well- crafted, or organic brands. Coffee and tea tend to contain more synthetic pesticides and fertilizers than any other beverage which is why it’s so important to switch to a high quality source especially if drinking every day.

What are the cons of drinking coffee?

As a dietitian, I like to emphasize eating more anti-inflammatory and alkaline-forming foods such as fruits, vegetables, ancient grains, nuts, seeds + organic animal products in moderation. Coffee tends to be more acid-forming on the body which can lead to inflammation, specifically in the gut. If drinking coffee every day, make sure to balance your pH with alkaline rich foods and beverages (coconut water, alkaline water, mineral water, herbal teas). Learn more about pH balance here.

Researchers confirm that those of us who are addicted to caffeine are naturally low in catecholamines, chemicals found in the brain that supports energy and alertness throughout the day. If you feel like you are dependent on coffee for energy, you may want to look at your overall lifestyle. Are you sleeping 7-9 hours each night? Are you eating a more alkaline rich superfood diet? Are you drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day? Are you finding time to add a little movement to your life? I like to tell my clients that you don’t exercise to lose weight, you exercise to feel good—that’s the magic.  

Mindful Coffee Drinking Tips

  • Be mindful of how much and how often you indulge
  • If you love coffee so much, choose a good quality source and savor it in a mug the way coffee is meant to be enjoyed
  • Choose healthier creams and sweet options: oat milk, almond milk, coconut milk, organic half and half, stevia, honey, or homemade syrups
  • Favorite brands include: Ipsento, Intelligentsia, Organic Coffee Co
  • Avoid drinking coffee after 2pm since coffee has a half life of 8-12 hours and can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep
  • Because coffee is naturally acidic, balance it out by drinking water with your coffee (hence why Europeans serve coffee with carbonated mineral water)