The Coffee Chain -Take away The Guilt

Is our daily cup doing us more harm than good? Nutritional therapist Marissa-Catherine Carrarini tackles the caffeine question  


Coffee is delicious. Whether you like a cup that is sharp and precise, or thick and buttery, it is a special drink. We remember when we have drunk it, as we do eating a piece of chocolate cake in the afternoon, or having a quiet evening whisky. It is, for me, a huge pleasure.

But what of the health risks associated with drinking coffee? While coffee is enjoyed by many of us, there is no denying that it is also controversial. For every news report promoting coffee as the new superfood, there will be another decrying its merits and warning us away.  

Here, I will attempt to answer the question: is our daily cup doing us more harm than good?

If one cuts through the scares and looks at the research, coffee is no bad thing. In fact, coffee has numerous protective and health-promoting compounds that can prevent early ageing, keep you safer from age-related diseases and make your immunity nice and strong. Research has also found that coffee can improve memory and mood, with one study linking coffee consumption to a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and another to its benefits combatting depression. Your daily cup is also rich in vitamins B2, 3 & 5 as well as potassium, manganese and magnesium. However, let's not get too carried away: coffee also blocks the absorption of iron and calcium. Best drink your coffee away from meals.

Like red wine and chocolate, coffee may have beautiful and powerful health benefits, but moderation is the key. Three or four cups a day may start to do more harm than good, so stick to - and feel good about - one or two really ‘worth-it’ coffees.

When it might be best to avoid or moderate your coffee intake:

  • Pregnant women need to be even more mindful of how many cups they drink, as there is some evidence that it can lead to miscarriage, or babies born too small – however, one to two cups a day is nothing to worry about.  

  • Coffee may not be your best friend if you are particularly stressed, anxious or rely on caffeine to get you through the day. This is a sign that your adrenal glands are under too much pressure and the addition of strong caffeine may make matters worse. Coffee may also increase emotional and physical feelings of anxiety (ever felt dizzy, breathless or your heart racing after your daily Americano?). If your emotional wellbeing is affected by coffee, having it with full fat milk or cream slows down your absorption of the stimulating caffeine. And avoid coffee chains that put a ridiculous amount of caffeine in their drinks.

  • Some say that coffee is too acidic. Coffee is indeed an acid food and eating and drinking too many things that are acidic coupled with not enough alkaline foods (vegetables, fruits – including lemons - lentils, nuts and so on) can disrupt your natural PH balance – which is not a good idea for fighting diseases.

  • Think about what kind of coffee you drink. There are many different kinds out there, and some are better than others. Firstly, conventional decaf is not a nice idea. In order to take the 'caf' away, the coffee is put through a ring of chemicals (including ethyl acetate and methylene chloride) – none of which are good for your digestion and can be related to headaches. If you prefer decaf, stick to the cleaner Swiss Water Process. Talking about chemicals, many everyday coffees are treated with a whole host of chemicals from growing to processing. Stick to organic, high-quality varieties to help avoid an additional chemical load.

  • Lastly, too many sweet extras turn your daily cup into a daily dessert. While we all need sweet in our lives, having too many syrupy Frappuccinos takes coffee consumption into a whole other level of 'Is this good for me?’.


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