Coffee: Good Bad or Both?

shutterstock_40810024I love coffee, not necessarily for its taste, more for the ritual surrounding it–and the quick burst of energy. A steaming cup of coffee in a ceramic mug reminds me of my grandmother, hence connects me to her every morning. The thought of giving it up to see if the caffeine is truly the cause of my occasional skin problems and underarm sweating (from my lips to my pits) was impossible.  Hence I’ve found information to support my habit. There are plenty of reasons not to drink coffee, however, if you have an emotional tie to it, like I do…read on and feel good about your daily fix.

The negatives

Coffee takes the rap for a wide variety of ills, from that spare tire around your middle, to bad skin, and indigestion. As an acidic beverage, it wreaks havoc on the body’s pH level, which can encourage arthritis, hormonal issues and skin problems. As a stimulant, drinking coffee can exhaust your adrenal gland hence compromising your immune system. It is also said to lead to mineral depletion and health problems including; osteoporosis, acid indigestion, candida, liver and kidney stones.

Coffee and weight gain? Have you seen those infomercials blaming belly fat on coffee?  The premise is simple chemistry and summed up by Barry Sears, MD, renown nutritional speaker and author of The Zone: “the breakdown of caffeine causes the pancreas to release too much insulin, thus creating a climate in which excess carbohydrates are stored as fat and are unavailable for use as energy by your brain. Although caffeine is a metabolic stimulant, the ultimate effect is to increase your appetite and contribute to weight gain and thus caffeine should be avoided by anyone working to reduce body fat.”

The positives

On the flip side, coffee has proven beneficial for reducing the risk of type two diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, headaches, cavities, and colon cancer. Researchers at Harvard University studied a group of people (slightly over 100K) for nearly twenty years, and concluded that up to six cups daily reduced the risk of diabetes for men by over 50%, and for women, 30%.  A recent article in Web MD titled, Coffee the New Health Food, highlights a handful of positive health benefits learned for these studies, here is an exerpt…

“Overall, the research shows that coffee is far more healthful than it is harmful,” says Tomas DePaulis, PhD, research scientist at Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Coffee Studies, which conducts its own medical research and tracks coffee studies from around the world. “For most people, very little bad comes from drinking it, but a lot of good.”

Consider this: At least six studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s, with three showing the more they drink, the lower the risk. Other research shows that compared to not drinking coffee, at least two cups daily can translate to a 25% reduced risk of colon cancer, an 80% drop in liver cirrhosis risk, and nearly half the risk of gall stones.

Coffee even offsets some of the damage caused by other vices, some research indicates. “People who smoke and are heavy drinkers have less heart disease and liver damage when they regularly consume large amounts of coffee compared to those who don’t,” says DePaulis.

There’s also some evidence that coffee may help manage asthma and even control attacks when medication is unavailable, stop a headache, boost mood, and even prevent cavities.

If you drink coffee for pleasure, and don’t discount positive brain chemistry as a health benefit here is my Faux Mocha trick.  Instead of a typical mocha, which weighs in around 400 calories, I like to add a splash (1/4 cup), of either chocolate soy milk, or regular low-fat chocolate milk to my morning cup. The result a great start to my day for just 50-ish calories.

There’s lots more to this discussion as there always is… but next time the topic comes up – you’ll be able to add a bit of academic insight to the topic.




  1. Jill Roblyer says:

    Excellent info! I love this blog!

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