07 August 2012

Coffee... Drink and Thrive!!

Many patients are surprised to hear that I drink coffee.  Not just an occasional cup, but every morning at 5:25am my Cuisinart automatic bean-grinding coffee maker whirs to a start, grinding the fresh roasted beans from Silver Canyon Coffee (*Organic Ethiopian Unwashed Sidamo is our favorite)  

*The unwashed or "dry" coffee permits the cherries to dry completely before the seed is milled from the outer pulp and skin. This affords a prolonged contact between the ripe fruit and the seed, and imparts a fruitier, more complex and wine-like coffee flavor.
For years, coffee had a bad reputation. Linked in many people's minds with smoking, coffee is sometimes associated with over-stimulation and sleep-deprived shift workers.  In fact, just ask my husband... in the early years of marriage, I always referrered to his morning cup of java as "black death".  We laugh about it now and share a 12-cup pot that's brewed fresh from the our favorite coffee roasters.

Green tea may get all the glory, but the top source of age-avenging antioxidants in the American diet is coffee! The beans behind your brew—actually the seeds of the coffee tree's fruit—contain the same kind of nutritionally supercharged compounds found in tea and other plant-based foods such as wine and chocolate.


Healthy benefits of the bean!

Studies show that coffee can help ward off mental decline, certain cancers, Parkinson's disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and even extra pounds. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that each time you refill your cup of java (caffeinated or decaf) in a day, you slash your diabetes risk by 7 percent and in another study, drinking two to three cups of coffee each day was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of heart disease.

In terms of drinking the brew, it's best to do it in moderation, despite the body benefits. Coffee is a natural stimulant, and high intake can bring on headaches, increase heart rate, or cause insomnia or sleep issues. You will get the most benefit by capping your intake at 4-6 cups per day and stopping before 2pm.  The half life of coffee is about 5-7hours, which means about 6 hours after you drink it, half the caffeine is still around in your body. Many people will still have caffeine in their system 12 hours after consuming it... but rates of elimination and metabolism of coffee (processed in the liver) will vary greatly from person to person.  Caffeine is also a diuretic, meaning that it increases urine output, which can lead to dehydration.


Coffee contains antioxidants

While both coffee and tea contain antioxidants, coffee, in some cases might just as good a choice!  There are more antioxidants in a cup of coffee than in a cup of tea.  And with more than half of Americans drinking coffee every day, Americans are getting more of their antioxidants from coffee than from any other dietary source.  Coffee also contains minerals such as magnesium and chromium, which help the body use the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar. In type 2 diabetes, the body loses its ability to use insulin and regulate blood sugar effectively.  However, coffee may interfere with absorption of certain nutrients, like iron.


What about pregnant women?

In August 2010, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) stated that moderate caffeine drinking -- less than 200 mg per day, or about the amount in 12 ounces of coffee -- doesn't appear to have any major effects on causing miscarriage, premature delivery, or fetal growth.
But the effects of larger caffeine doses are unknown, and other research shows that pregnant women who drink many cups of coffee daily may be at greater risk for miscarriage than non-drinkers or moderate drinkers so be cautious.

So be well... and enjoy your cup of the black brew guilt free.  (and in moderation, of course!)


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