Coffee – is it good or bad?!

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Short answer: There can be several benefits, but it depends on many factors.

Long answer: (and there are more considerations – here are just a few!)

  1. Quality – organic, or else it comes with a host of mycotoxins and pesticides – our favorite is a brand called bulletproof coffee, as it is organic, and tested for mold.
  2. Genetics – whether you are genetically a good metabolizer of caffeine or not. CYP1A2 is a gene which produces an enzyme that is responsible for breaking down ‘metabolizing’ caffeine. Which variant of the gene we possess will affect how fast or slow we break it down. If you break it down slowly, you are at an enhanced risk of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease when caffeine intake is high. Alternatively, it is possible to have a variant that means you have a lower risk of heart disease with moderate intake of caffeine.
  3. Sleep – caffeine has a half-life, which means it stays in the body for hours on end, and different sources often have different half lives. Additionally, caffeine molecules make there way up to the brain and bind to receptors that are really meant for adenosine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role with the wake / sleep cycle. Normally, when adenosine binds to receptors, it signals the body to sleep. When caffeine takes the place on those receptors, the body is confused. It doesn’t stop our body from being tired, it just masks it.
  4. Stress and blood sugar – if you are stressed or anxious, caffeine will stimulate your nervous system and continue to wreak havoc on cortisol levels and blood sugar regulation. Like sugar, it’s a vicious cycle. Anyone with adrenal or fatigue conditions should avoid caffeine, as much as possible.
  5. Liver detoxification – caffeine, as with all substances that enter the body, needs to be detoxified through the liver. The affects of caffeine on the liver, though, should be noted. There are two phases of liver detox, phase 1 and phase 2 – and they both need certain nutrients to ensure each phase is happening at an efficient rate. Often, substances such as caffeine can speed up phase 1 detoxification, but if the diet isn’t rich in certain nutrients needed for phase 2, there can be a back log full of harmful metabolites created by phase 1. Therefore, if caffeine is part of your diet, it should be supported with a whole foods diet rich in anti – oxidants, vitamins, minerals, good sources of amino acids and plenty of water.

AN ALTERNATIVE: MATCHA!

We love matcha – it is incredibly rich in anti-oxidants (specifically epigallocatechin gallate), which counter acts the activity of free radicals re: UV rays, pollution etc. And while matcha does have caffeine, it also has L – theanine. L – theanine is an amino acid that affects brain function via increasing alpha waves, providing better attention, concentration and relaxation. We love matcha to support performance and clarity. Anecdotally, our patients say matcha provides the energy boost of caffeine, but with mental clarity and no brain fog.

Caffeine, in small doses can be part of a healthy diet – but like other foods with powerful affects on the body, it depends entirely on each person, and it may change through a life cycle, too. Working with a qualified nutrition or functional medicine doctor to figure out if it’s right for you.

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