Thursday, February 4, 2010

Coffee... the good, the bad, and the unknown!

There is a lot of research on whether coffee is good or bad, and personally I think it gets a bad wrap.  But I do know that it is very addictive, and I try to live my life by not being addicted, obsessed, or overly relying on anything.  That is where I believe the unhealthiness arises.  Here is an article on everything you ever wanted to know on how coffee affects your body- How Coffee Affects your Hormones
No known studies demonstrate statistically significant correlations between coffee over-consumption and the unwinding of the neuroendocrineimmune system. However, certain theoretical pathways can be created, and have been observed clinically.
 A diet high in refined sugars and starches leads to more circulating glucose. More glucose means more insulin needed to dispose of it. More insulin means cells tune out, which means even more insulin dumped into the bloodstream (especially if people continue to eat this high-carbohydrate diet). More insulin means insulin resistance — possibly aggravated by high caffeine consumption. More insulin means more IL-6 and more inflammation and hypersensitivity. More IL-6 means more cortisol, which means more glucose… and here we are, back at the beginning of a very nasty cycle.
Consider this as you cradle your extra-large coffee and glazed donut this morning during your white-knuckle commute to work.
The elevated blood sugar and insulin don’t just stop at inflammation. They can create imbalances in the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and GABA, which can lead to sub-clinical mood problems such as mild depression (aka “the blues”), low motivation, irritability, and impaired cognition. People with chronically high glucose, insulin resistance, systemic inflammation, and stress typically have “fuzzy brain”, memory loss, lethargy, and/or a short fuse.
Coupled with the potential iron and B-vitamin deficiencies created by coffee, which, again, cause impaired synthesis of key neurotransmitters, this may result in mood states where people feel the need for coffee to keep themselves functioning properly. Have you ever felt that you desperately needed coffee for a pick-me-up? Do you tell people, “I’m a grouch until I get my coffee?” If so, you may be experiencing this situation.
I don't want to scare all of you because caffeine in moderation is likely not an issue for most people. Indeed, it may actually have health benefits. (See the article on traditional Chinese medicine and coffee, in the Spezzatino Coffee issue) Problems occur when we drink coffee all day long and combine it with sedentary lifestyles, poor diets, and chronically elevated stress.  
Here is the final advice the article gives:
Follow the evidence that your body offers you. Pay attention to how you feel when you drink coffee. Do you feel good for a short period, then shaky and irritable? Do you notice more pain or other kinds of physical distress? If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms I’ve mentioned above, ranging from anxiety to inflammation, consider bringing a little decaf into your life.
So in conclusion, if you stick with a Paleo diet, you most likely are OK with a cup of coffee every morning.

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