Note from Matt and Betsy: the opinions expressed below are those of the author, not necessarily ours. Another DIY Natural team member Deb has a different opinion, you can read about that here. One thing we’ll say for sure, if you do drink coffee make sure it’s organically grown!
Is coffee bad for you? Let’s take a look!
Much has been made recently about all the studies that support the coffee habit. I have to admit to being much angered by the representation of the so-called health benefits of coffee that has been going around in the media. I have dithered about sharing my thoughts for a while because I know that they won’t be popular.
I should also preface this in all fairness with the confession that I am not a coffee drinker, don’t like it and never have. My husband downs all the bean juice in our house. That said, I try to be very sensitive to my clients who are coffee addicted. I sit down with many women who are suffering a roller coaster of imbalanced hormones and to every one I must say that they have to change their relationship with this drink.
The Skinny on the Coffee Studies
The studies circulating show a correlation between coffee drinking habits and health benefits. None of them are able to show a causation. While all of the media is spreading the news that folks should drink several cups a day to prevent a laundry list of diseases, they leave out the fact that none of the studies actually prove such a link.
Let’s take one of the studies showing a correlation between coffee drinkers and lower Type 2 diabetes incidence.
A study done by Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, interviewed more than 193,000 people. That sounds like an impressive sample size right? Those who said they drank more than six or seven cups daily were 35% less likely to have type 2 diabetes than people who drank fewer than two cups daily. WOW! Eureka, we’ve found the smoking gun: we all need to drink six to seven cups of coffee a day to prevent Type 2 diabetes. If we only drink two cups we won’t be as safe.
Unfortunately, this study and the others that are cited DO NOT look at the diet and activity of the subjects they interview. If I were drinking six to seven cups of coffee a day I wouldn’t probably have much time or desire to drink anything else. If I was only drinking two cups, I might have a few other drinks at some of my meals or while at my desk in the afternoon. Those drinks might be a soda filled with high fructose corn syrup.
So the upshot of this study could actually be that those who drink more coffee don’t have time to drink as much sugary pop as those who don’t. This study could be more about the soda industry than it is about how healthy coffee is, we don’t know, although I’d wager I have some of the truth of it.
Effects of Coffee on Adrenal Glands
What we do know is that caffeine pushes our overworked and overstressed adrenal glands to respond with a kick in blood pressure and a signal to shut down digestion. If we don’t live on a tropical island free of all stress and care, we probably have already pushed these adrenals pretty hard. Some of the studies demonstrated a difference between a new drinker and someone who habitually enjoys coffee. The researchers scratched their heads on that one, but of course, over time as we stimulate our adrenals to react in fight or flight mode they eventually get tired and less responsive. At that point we’re in trouble, constantly fatigued, having a hard time with focus and reaching for something to help us get the job done–the same thing that got us into the mess in the first place–coffee.
Pregnant or lactating women, their babies, and those wishing to become pregnant are especially damaged by all the hoopla to get out there and drink more coffee.
Those women who are struggling to become pregnant will find that the caffeine is drying to the cervical fluid needed for optimal fertility. We know that caffeine crosses the placenta and can lead to anemia of mom or baby. It may be responsible for a host of other possible problems for the fetus (admittedly found in another study based on correlation¹). Drinking coffee while nursing reduces the available iron supply in breast milk and can block the absorption of minerals by the nursing baby.
My Suggested Coffee Intake
I get it, folks are really attached to their coffee. Unfortunately, it was never intended to be used in the manner we do in our society. It was a ceremonial drink, it was enjoyed on special occasions. I think that is how it should still be enjoyed; buy the highest quality coffee you can find, brew it once a week and sip it slowly with someone you love. Sit down and enjoy the moment, perhaps read your favorite blog written by someone who you’d now very much like to send lots of hate mail to, if you’re still reading.
Maybe I should apologize, I do feel very bad about raining on the coffee parade, but as someone who specializes in the health of the adrenal glands and fertility, pregnancy and lactation specifically, I couldn’t keep quiet one. minute. longer.
Alternatives to Coffee?
As a way of apology for bad talking your coffee, here are a few wonderful alternatives:
Recommendation from DIY Natural: This deep and invigorating coffee alternative is shockingly good brew and has a remarkable similarity to coffee thus making it the ideal alternative to coffee drinkers who are attempting to limit their intake of this highly caffeinated beverage! (Find herbal coffee here.)
- 2 sticks ordinary cinnamon (find great inexpensive cinnamon sticks here)
- 1 quart boiling water
Place the sticks in a quart mason jar. Pour boiling water to fill and add a lid. Let this steep for 15 minutes or overnight. Pour and enjoy a robust, rich cup of tea that is naturally stimulating and doesn’t need any sugar.
So what do you think?
Is coffee good for you, bad for you, or somewhere in between?
1. X. Weng, R. Odouli and D.K. Li (2008). “Maternal Caffeine Consumption During Pregnancy and the Risk of Miscarriage: A Prospective Cohort Study.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 198(3), 279.e 1–8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2007.10.803