Coffee: To drink or not to drink?

October 28th, 2013 Posted by Food for Thought 0 thoughts on “Coffee: To drink or not to drink?”

“I’m ready for change, but I’m not giving up my coffee.”

Coffee shakingI hear from so many of you how important coffee is to your productivity, sanity, and overall enjoyment of life. Even those of you that experience huge benefit from giving up coffee for a period of time can’t wait to add a cup back into your morning routine.

While I have my seasonal cleansers avoid coffee (and all caffeine) during their programs, the truth is, coffee isn’t all bad. In fact, coffee has been shown to be supportive of many body systems. So why do I ask my cleansers to give up their bean juice? Let’s weigh the pros and cons:

Note: Some of these facts have to do specifically with coffee, others with all caffeinated beverages. I don’t recommend switching from coffee to another caffeinated beverage, but that’s another post for another day…


  • Coffee has a variety of health benefits. There has been a flood of research lately about how the regular consumption of coffee can support a healthy body and reduce the risk of diseases including liver cancer, alzheimer’s, and gallstones.
  • Coffee is a laxative and helps promote regular bowel movements. (This can be a con if it is causing elimination to happen before food is completely digested, or if it is masking natural constipation due to an imbalanced gut environment.)
  • The caffeine helps us “wake up” and may be just what we need to get to the gym, prepare and pack a lunch for the day, or get to the office on time.
  • It’s delicious.


  • Coffee has been shown to have adverse effects on the adrenal glands. Over stimulation of the adrenals can lead to adrenal fatigue.
  • Caffeine is a strong appetite suppressant. A cup of coffee in the morning can result in a skipped breakfast and a lack of vital nutrients. Food gives us the nutrients we need for energy and optimal brain function. Fatigue and brain fog cause us to consume more caffeine, strengthening this cycle.
  • Caffeine can cause insomnia. One of the most common benefits people experience when they give up caffeine is improved sleep. While it’s common for people to avoid afternoon caffeine, sometimes even that morning coffee can disrupt the sleep of slow caffeine metabolizers.
  • Coffee increases acidity. Drinking coffee causes your body to produce large amounts of hydrochloric acid, which can lead to reflux, heartburn, and eventually wear out your body’s ability to produce hydrochloric acid making it difficult to digest proteins. This acidity can also impair your ability to absorb important minerals from your food, like iron or magnesium.
  • Caffeine is a strong diuretic and can lead to dehydration.
  • Coffee irritates the gastrointestinal tract and is especially problematic for those suffering from IBS, gastritis, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and ulcers.
  • Coffee can raise cholesterol. Coffee contains a substance called cafestol that is a potent stimulator of LDL cholesterol levels. When brewed with a paper filter, the cafestol gets left behind in the filter. French press coffee, Turkish coffee, and boiled coffees have the highest levels of cafestol.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to experiment with giving up coffee and caffeine for a while to see how your body responds. While one cup of coffee in the morning shouldn’t be a problem for most people, I frequently see it abused and the habit unable to be controlled. It’s the reliance on caffeine (laden with sugar and creamers) to get us through the day at the expense of nourishing foods that’s the real problem.

If you want to learn how to control your caffeine habit and limit its negative impact, follow these simple tips:

  1. coffee habitDrink your morning coffee WITH breakfast. Don’t let the appetite suppression effect trick you into thinking you don’t need to eat breakfast.
  2. Don’t consume caffeine in the afternoon.
  3. Skip the “creamers” and sugar. Drink it black or with real cream or milk.
  4. Drink plenty of water to counteract the diuretic effect.
  5. Make sure you’re eating plenty of mineral-rich foods. You may want to consider taking a multi-mineral complex to replace those lost through coffee.
  6. Drink coffee made with paper filters.
  7. Switch to decaf.
  8. If you suffer regularly from fatigue or brain fog, consider upgrading your diet to provide you with lasting energy.
  9. Switch to herbal teas for your warm drink fix.
  10. If you suffer from GI issues, avoid caffeine completely.
Drew Parisi

Drew Parisi

Drew Parisi, NC is a certified nutritionist, foodie, and amateur gardener, helping entrepreneurs and other busy people develop nourishing food habits to fuel their dreams. She lives in Silicon Valley with her husband, son, and 1,000 paper cranes.

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