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TSL What is the deal with coffee?

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my coffee.

I really love it. I even wrote about how much I love it back in October of last year when I finally successfully reintroduced coffee back into my diet.

After nine e n t i r e months off the black gold, no less…

At the time I was drinking it with my BEST Homemade Dairy-Free Creamer. Now, I have one cup a day with some good quality runny cream. I am a happy girl.

It is sublime!

But, here’s the thing. Coffee affects people in different ways.

Even the very knowledgable Chris Kresser says he considers “coffee to be a gray-area food, and by that I mean that the scientific research suggests that it’s beneficial when it’s well tolerated by the individual, but it’s not always well tolerated.”

And, people are often a little confused about this. So, today we’re looking at just what the deal is with coffee.

I like coffee because it gives me the illusion that I might be awake. (Lewis Black)

The good:

* Coffee is a known stimulant. In the brain, it apparently blocks the function of an inhibitory neurotransmitter (brain hormone) called adenosine. By blocking adenosine, caffeine actually increases activity in the brain and the release of other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. This makes us feel more alert.

*Caffeine can boost metabolism

*Coffee contains a pretty reasonable amount of several vitamins and minerals. It is also the biggest source of antioxidants in the standard diet. To be fair, this possibly says more about the state of the standard diet than the health benefits of coffee.

*It smells good. It tastes good. It makes you feel good!

The bad:

*When you consume coffee, your cortisol levels rise, along with other stress hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine. This increase can last anything up to six hours. That’s a lot. These chemicals increase your body’s heart rate, blood pressure and tension levels – that ‘fight or flight’ response. Given the increasingly stressful lives we now lead, increasing ‘fight or flight’ reactions can be a big problem. Excessive cortisol production can lead to a variety of health issues, including an overactive immune system, disrupted sleep, impaired digestion, and depression.

*Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that can cause problems in some people and disrupt sleep.

*Drinking coffee on an empty stomach, think first thing in the morning, stimulates hydrochloric acid production. This can be a problem because HCl should only be produced to digest meals. If your body has to make HCl more often in response to regular cups of coffee, it may have difficulty producing enough to deal with a large meal.

TSL Coffee Beans

Black Gold!
(Image from here)

Sarah Ballantyne, my go-to girl on all things autoimmune related, is in agreement with Chris Kresser with regard to individual differences in our ability to deal with coffee. She says, “Those people with autoimmune diseases should take special care with consumption of coffee as their systems are particularly sensitive to irritants and they have a much higher likelihood of an immune response to coffee (because they have a much higher likelihood of gluten intolerance and food sensitivities in general). Overall, coffee gets the “proceed with caution” label.”

So, after a nine-month hiatus from drinking coffee while attempting to heal my poor ailing gut and kick this HS problem to the side-line, I will continue to drink my morning coffee. Because I love it and I don’t seem to experience any particular negative effects from one cup. But, I will limit it to one. And, I’ll keep a weather eye out…

What do you think about coffee?

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