Many friends and clients have asked me about coffee. They often start with: "I NEED my coffee...do I have to cut it out to be healthy??" And I like to say no, but I believe it's important for my clients to be informed. It really depends on each person's relationship with coffee. If you can't live without coffee in the morning, drink 1-2 cups each morning, and then need it after each meal, it's a sign that you might be addicted. That in itself should be a red flag.
That said, most of us (especially those of us that love our coffee) have heard the health benefits of coffee and swear by its unique ability to get us up in the morning. So what's the whole story? Why can it be bad? Why do many strict diets / detoxes prohibit coffee?
While there is talk about fresh, high quality coffee being a source of antioxidants (like chlorogenic acid) which can help with weight loss, coffee can also be harmful, especially when consumed regularly and in excess. Here are a few reasons why:
1) Coffee can be very irritating to the gut:
It can irritate your stomach and the lining of your small intestine, which is an especially big problem for those suffering from IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome), ulcers, or gastritis.
2) When you drink coffee - usually on an empty stomach before breakfast, or in between meals- it stimulates the production of HCL (hydrochloric acid) which is usually only produced when eating meals as it's used for proper digestion of food.
And if too much HCL is produced before you eat your food or in-between meals, your body might not produce enough when it's actually needed- when you're eating large meals with protein. Low HCL during meals can lead to undigested protein, leading to gas, bloating, constipation and IBS.
3) Coffee can lead to acid reflux and heartburn.
4) While coffee often acts as a laxative, it's not good to rely on it for this purpose.
It can be great short term especially for those of us that struggle with constipation, but in the long run, it creates dependency and only makes constipation worse.
5) Drinking lots of coffee stimulates the release of stress hormones, which interferes with digestion and overall health levels.
6) Coffee creates acidity in your body, offsetting the proper pH balance needed for your body to thrive.
An acidic pH is one where infections and inflammatory diseases thrive and grow.
Conclusion? Measure your dependency on coffee. Regardless, I highly suggest you try cutting it out for 2-3 weeks and finding coffee substitutes that you enjoy. Try Teeccino (its naturally caffeine free, made with carob, barley, chicory root, almonds, dates & figs, and tastes just like coffee). Or I personally drink a glass of warm water with lemon upon rising (which fills that desire for the warm drink) and then I often have a delicious green juice or smoothie to give me an energy boost. Contrary to coffee, green juices help raise the alkalinity in our bodies. After a few weeks without coffee, you may be surprised to see your energy levels improve as long as you're eating lots of real, healthy, whole foods.
If you enjoy your coffee too much to cut it out, try reducing your intake. Keep it to one per day, and make sure to have lots of alkaline foods to support a healthy pH. Also, look for organic brands free of pesticides. Let me know how it goes!