Coffee: To Drink Or Not To Drink?
By Tyler Woodward
Coffee and specifically the caffeine is a known stimulant, but coffee is a lot more than just caffeine. Let’s take a deeper look into coffee, what's in it and its effects on the body.
- The Detriments Of Coffee
- The Benefits Of Coffee
- How Does Caffeine Work?
- Issues With Coffee
- What Kind Of Coffee Do You Drink
The Detriments Of Coffee:
To start let’s talk about all the health detriments of coffee
- Coffee Inhibits The Absorption Of Iron & Calcium - While coffee does inhibit the absorption of both calcium and iron this is both a blessing and a curse.
- Iron - Many people are actually extremely overloaded in iron and iron is actually one of the main contributors to oxidative stress and again. Iron can very easily get stuck in your cells and not in your blood where it needs to be. If iron is stuck in your cells’ it can cause oxidative stress and inflammation as it reacts with oxygen, DNA and other proteins in your body. While you do need adequate amounts of iron, iron is quite literally found in every food in some amount and it readily accumulates in your cells. Check out this article on Iron Deficiency Anemia is a Misdiagnosis for more information. But if you are worried about being truly iron deficient, coffee only inhibits iron absorption when it is consumed with the meal. If you consume the coffee hours before a meal containing iron it will not exert any effect.
- Calcium - Calcium on the other hand is extremely important (not that iron isn’t important) and this is a downside of caffeine, but as long as you consume your calcium away from your coffee caffeine will not inhibit the absorption.
- Coffee Raises Blood Pressure - Coffee does increase blood pressure, but this is only a temporary side effect. After as short as five days drinking caffeine you accumulate a tolerance to caffeine and it no longer increases your blood pressure. This is known as “caffeine-adapted” when your body adjusts to consistent caffeine intake.
- Coffee Dehydrates You - While coffee does have a slight diuretic effect it’s not strong enough to offset the amount of fluid consumed from drinking coffee. Additionally, coffee contains both magnesium and potassium, two very important electrolytes involved in cellular respiration.
The Benefits Of Caffeine:
What’s often lesser known coffee also has a host of benefits of associated with it:
- Coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing many diseases - Frequent coffee drinkers have been found to have a lower likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease (1,2), parkinson’s disease (1, 2) cirrhosis (1, 2), may lower your risk of developing are Type II diabetes (1, 2) and is associated with a lower all-cause mortality (1, 2, 3)
- Coffee Improves Digestion - Coffee stimulates the release of the digestive enzymes gastrin and cholecystokinin. Gastrin is the hormone responsible for stimulating the release of gastric acid, also known as stomach acid. Stomach acid is necessary to break down, digest & absorb food. Cholecystokinin is a hormone that stimulates the release of enzymes and bile from the gallbladder. These an essential part of further breaking down food for absorption in the small intestine.
- Coffee Decreases Transit Time - Coffee stimulates peristalsis, the wave-like movement of the large intestines (colon) that moves fecal matter through them. This is why many people’s morning coffee coincides with a morning bowel movement. Small transit times serve for good digestion and overall digestive health.
- Coffee Increases Dopamine - Coffee stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain which is likely responsible for the mood-boosting effects of caffeine.
- Coffee Improves Performance - Coffee has been shown repeatedly to improve performance in a variety of sports including sprints, endurance training like cycling and even 1-rep max strength tests.
- Increased Insulin Sensitivity - Coffee has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity by decreasing the amount of insulin necessary to regulate glucose (1, 2, 3)
- Increases Energy - This is the most notorious and we’ll address how & why it works below...
Read More: The Science Of Stress & How To Lose It
Coffee More Than Just Caffeine:
Many times today we use coffee and caffeine interchangeably and while caffeine is the most notorious component of coffee, there's much more to coffee than just caffeine. Coffee also contains a number of vitamins and minerals including:
- Vitamin B1 - Coffee contains small amounts of Vitamin B1 as thiamine
- Vitamin B3 - Depending on the roast of the coffee coffee can be a very significant source of Niacin or Vitamin B3. The Darker the roast the higher amounts of niacin in coffee
- Magnesium - Coffee is about .5% magnesium, while this isn't a lot of magnesium, multiple cups of joe daily add up and 4 cups of coffee can contain up to 100 Mg of magnesium or about 25% of the RDA. In fact, coffee beans actually contain more magnesium per 100 grams than spinach and is much more easily absorbed!
- Potassium - Coffee contains about 116 Mg of Potassium per cup which equals about 3% of the RDA per cup.
- Chlorogenic Acid - A potent antioxidant, helping to fight oxidative stress
How Does Caffeine Work?:
Everyone knows that caffeine is a stimulant, but few people actually know how it works. Caffeine primarily works in two ways:
1. Caffeine Blocks Adenosine -
Caffeine is able to bind to adenosine in the brain and blocks adenosine from binding to its receptors in the brain. Adenosine normally binds to its receptors in the brain and as more adenosine binds in the brain it causes you to feel more and more tired. Caffeine blocks adenosine from binding to its receptors in the brain which blocks the feeling of fatigue and helps to facilitate the alertness of caffeine. Caffeine has a half life of about 4-5 hours, meaning that the body is able to fully break down half of the caffeine absorbed in 5 hours.
Caffeine is fully absorbed in the body in about 75 minutes, so in order to prevent coffee from affecting your sleep it’s best to stop consuming 8-10 hours before bed. Some people are able to metabolize caffeine much more effectively than others and are able to consume coffee much later into the night without affecting their sleep, but it varies largely by the individual. In fact certain people can fully eliminate caffeine from their body’s within 90 minutes.
2. Caffeine Mimics Thyroid Hormone -
Caffeine in a similar manner to thyroid hormone by facilitating the uptake and use of glucose. Glucose is the primary fuel source of the body and is used in combination with oxygen to create ATP in your cells. This is what causes the increase in metabolic rate, more calories burned and is what results in the thermogenic effect (increase in body temperature) of coffee.
When caffeine acts like thyroid and stimulates the uptake and use of glucose it lowers your blood glucose levels. When this happens your body releases both glucagon and adrenaline. Glucagon signals to your body to break down its glycogen stores (stored glucose) to be used as fuel. When your liver’s glycogen stores start to run low your body must release adrenaline which signals to your body to break down its fat stores in order to utilize fat as fuel instead of glucose.
Issues With Coffee:
The release of adrenaline in combination with the drop in blood sugar causes many of the detrimental effects that people experience when consuming coffee. This is what causes many people to feel a crash in energy levels, increased anxiety or irritability from drinking coffee, but it can be mitigated by consuming your coffee with a meal and/or adequate amounts of sugar, milk and cream.
Consuming coffee with a meal not only can help to improve your digestion, but the carbs/sugar from the meal help to prevent your blood sugar from crashing. Milk and cream have two-fold benefits as the lactose within them also helps to prevent your blood sugar from dropping and the fat in them further helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels.
Consuming coffee with adequate food, sugar, coffee, cream or milk helps to counteract any of the negative effects commonly experienced with consuming coffee. If you’re still struggling with drinking coffee you can try to build up your tolerance over time by consuming it in very small amounts at first and slowly building up. In the words of Dr. Raymond Peat, if you’re very intolerant to coffee try adding a bit of coffee to your milk instead of adding a bit of coffee to your milk.
Read More: The Thermo Diet Cheat Sheet
What Kind Of Coffee You Should Drink?:
The type of coffee you drink matters significantly. Coffee is frequently one of the most pesticide-ridden crops in the world which can wreak havoc on your overall health. Additionally, coffee can be very prone to growing mold, especially pre-ground coffee. Moldy coffee can be a host to mycotoxins, toxins that are produced from mold. For these reasons, I recommend consuming organic, mold-free coffee and to make sure it is not pre-ground. Organic ensures that the coffee is free of pesticides while mold-free ensures the coffee does not contain harmful levels of mold. Additionally, I recommend consuming a dark roast caffeine as the darker roast frees up more of the Vitamin B3 found in coffee and also contains higher levels of antioxidants.
If you're looking to achieve balance in your life, the Thermo Diet is perfect for you! This diet is all about supplying your body with the right "fuel" so that it can thrive and achieve hormonal balance. With the right foods and supplements, you'll be able to achieve energy balance and micronutrient balance, allowing your body to function at its best!
My goal in writing this article, as always, is to provide you with logically-based principles that you can use to form your own conclusions regarding any information you may come across within this subject. I really hope you found this article interesting and if you have anything to add to this article, or any comments or criticism, feel free to reach out to me on our facebook groups or on Instagram @tylerwoodward_fit. Also, please feel free to share this article with anyone that might be interested.
Thanks for reading!
Until next time… be good
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“Caffeine: A Vitamin-like Nutrient, or Adaptogen.” Caffeine: A Vitamin-like Nutrient, or Adaptogen. Questions about Tea and Coffee, Cancer and Other Degenerative Diseases, and the Hormones., https://raypeat.com/articles/articles/caffeine.shtml.
Feldman, Jay. “EP. 37: Maximizing the Benefits of Coffee and Whether Fasting Protects against Cancer (Q & A).” Jay Feldman Wellness, 3 Oct. 2021, https://jayfeldmanwellness.com/ep-37-maximizing-the-benefits-of-coffee-and-whether-fasting-protects-against-cancer-q-a/.