There’s plenty of people who at some time in your life will inform you that a certain food is bad for you. God knows, I have been one of those people (sorry I was wrong)! When you learn from organisations or gurus’s, you are often taking a view of someone else who has had a said experience, combined with a review of anecdotal and scientifically reviewed literature.  Well, I certainly wouldn’t call myself a guru, but here’s my slant on coffee and caffeine and consumption. Take it for what you will!                   

Why people often think caffeine is bad for you.

When people consume caffeine (in particularly without sugar) some, can often experience, shaking, anxiety, euphoria, increased energy followed by decreased energy and a host of other unwanted symptoms. In my experience anecdotally of course, myself and many of clients have experienced these issues when the body was in fact hypoglycaemic. This may have been brought on by intensive exercise programs, eating a high protein paleo type diet which often exposes the liver to low levels of glucose stores and other stressful situations. Coffee causes adrenal! Blood sugar dysregulation can affect cortisol responses!

The caffeine surge releases a large amount of cortisol and if blood sugar levels are not well maintained a release of triglycerides ensues and a subsequent peak in insulin levels. Then comes the crash and the unwanted symptoms that were stated above. The work of Ray Peat compelled me to go back and review my understanding of caffeine, cortisol  and other biochemical and hormone responses, for  which I have to thank him for and suggest, that reading his work a must for all. It’s a great place to start from combined with a solid grasp of physiology, I don’t think it is the be all and end all, but for me it’s been very useful.

So, how to manage those hormonal responses? Well how about a simple spoonful of sugar (no sugar does not cause cancer!), maple syrup or coconut oil or both? The point is that if you manage you blood sugar levels appropriately then avoiding these uneccessary hormonal fluctuations is easy as expresso…. I mean espresso of course!  Especially, when most people (unless you have a genuine sensitivity to caffeine) should be consuming caffeine.

Caffeine is awesome, fact! Here’s why!  (ps there are many compounds with scientific names that are not discussed as part of this article, buts lets just agree that coffee has a number of substances as well as caffeine that are beneficial!)

Caffeine has scientifically been proven to lower the risks of:

  • Alzheimers
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Oxidation of fats or lipids
  • Diabetes and improves blood glucose levels

It also improves exercise performance, focus, increases body temperature, acts as an antioxidant yet many health experts state that can caffeine is detrimental to the thyroid gland. So how can a compound that raises metabolic rate and improve performance be the same compound that surpresses the thyroid gland and slows down metabolism. Me thinks that people to look closer at the mechanisms of caffeine as there are plenty of studies that show that caffeine decreases TSH levels, if that’s the marker that you determine thyroid function by?

Let’s be clear, I am not stating that large amounts of caffeine daily should be ingested but it is clear that 1-2 cups of coffee per day are beneficial.  Unless your a Costa Rican and carry the gene rs762551(C) which is suggestive of slow caffeine metabolism. This gene has been shown to increase the risk of heart attack, which is a bit of a bummer as Costa Rica produces some really good coffee!

Want some references?  (there are thousands!)

In vitro antioxidant activity of coffee compounds and their metabolites.

  1. Choi HK; Willett W; Curhan G. Coffee consumption and risk of incident gout in men: a prospective study. Arthritis Rheum.  2007; 56(6):2049-55 (ISSN: 0004-3591)
  2. Gómez-Ruiz JA; Leake DS; Ames J Agric Food Chem.  2007; 55(17):6962-9 (ISSN: 0021-8561)
  3. Modi AA; Feld JJ; Park Y; Kleiner DE; Everhart JE; Liang TJ; Hoofnagle JHIncreased caffeine consumption is associated with reduced hepatic fibrosis. Hepatology.  2010; 51(1):201-9 (ISSN: 1527-3350)
  4. Turati F; Galeone C; La Vecchia C; Garavello W; Tavani A. Coffee and cancers of the upper digestive and respiratory tracts: meta-analyses of observational studies. Ann Oncol.  2011; 22(3):536-44 (ISSN: 1569-8041)