Being in the health and fitness profession, people watch what I do, watch what I eat, and watch what I drink. It’s an occupational hazard! Those of you who have met me in person know I walk my talk, do what I suggest you do, and drink coffee. Oops, did I say I drink coffee?
Yes, I’ll admit it. I drink coffee. Did I just hear you say……
What? Shelli drinks coffee?
Not only does Shelli drink coffee. She LOVES coffee and is quite the coffee snob.
I drink coffee almost every morning, sometimes with cinnamon, and I enjoy every minute of it.
I’m not exactly here to tell you that coffee is good for you. If I did, I would be telling only the good side of the story and that would make me a politician, not a health educator!
So, I’m here to give you the good and the bad and tell you how you can incorporate your favorite coffee or tea into your healthy meal plan.
The Ugly Side of Caffeine
Most coffee and tea contains a lot of caffeine. This is usually the primary reason people make coffee their drink of choice in the morning. Caffeine is a drug like any other and comes with a long list of side effects. Have you ever tried not having your coffee in the morning? Occasionally I’ll go without coffee for a month just to see what it feels like. The headaches that come on when you try and kick this habit can be brutal (just like with other drugs). Creating a dependency and addiction like this is harmful to the body.
Second, coffee is extremely acidic. Our bodies function at optimum levels when they are slightly more alkaline (the opposite of acidic). It is best for us to greatly reduce any foods that will drive our body’s pH to be more acidic and eat more foods that are alkaline (like fruits and veggies). An acidic body pH is a magnet for all kinds of illnesses. Also, an alkaline body has a much stronger immune system, making illness much less likely.
Last but not least, the caffeine in coffee and tea is abusive to your adrenal glands. Your adrenals release your “fight or flight” hormones, giving you a nice energy boost when needed. Unfortunately, people who drink coffee all day long are consistently beating on their adrenals. This is a really bad idea.
The Pretty Side of Caffeine
Coffee tastes great.
Many studies have shown that coffee can help in the prevention and treatment of diseases and illnesses as varied as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, liver disease, skin cancer, Parkinsons’s disease and more. Although I don’t believe coffee would be the cure all to any of these diseases, many ancient cultures did rely on the coffee bean to cure a long list of ailments. Also, SMALL doses of caffeine can increase performance and mental focus.
Green tea is also a great drink and has a long list of benefits. If nothing else, green tea is a wonderful source of antioxidants which are important in cancer prevention. Green tea has even been found to raise metabolism and aid in fat burning. Before you go take a green tea bath though, its effects are really minor when compared to the effects of sound nutrition and exercise plans. So please don’t think you can eat poorly and just wash it down with green tea!
What is a coffee and tea drinker to do?
- Limit your coffee and tea intake. TWO 8 oz cups per day. Any more than that is considered too much and means you’re likely a coffee addict.
- If you are currently dependent on a lot of caffeine each day, replace 1 or 2 cups of coffee with green tea. Green tea has much less caffeine than coffee and will help handle the ugly detox symptoms.
- Do not build up your coffee beverage with sugar, milk, syrup and whip cream. Skip Starbucks altogether! Use stevia or xylitol to sweeten and avoid all the empty, harmful calories. A teaspoon of half and half won’t hurt either. No flavored creamers.
- Make healthy food choices. Avoiding other acidic foods like sugar, artificial sweeteners and processed foods will lighten the acid load on the body.
- Make sure the coffee you drink is organic. Conventional coffee is filled with pesticides and chemicals and should be avoided at all costs.
Am I going to give up my coffee? Not likely. Probably not. I keep my intake moderate and enjoy my morning coffee. And I also do the five things on this list!