What about coffee?

19 January 2021

For those of us working in the nutrition space, I would say one of the most frequently asked questions is “What about coffee?”

I don’t drink coffee myself. In fact I stopped drinking it at the age of 20 after I had abused the stuff along with caffeine tablets to get through crash studying the night before each of my exams!

Even if I could drink coffee now without getting the shakes and feeling nauseous, I wouldn’t. Why? Because I would rather know when my body was naturally energised than to rely on a stimulant and not be in tune. I truly believe that when we optimise our diet and lifestyle, caffeine is not required.

There are studies showing there are benefits in drinking coffee – for example, for sports performance. But there are also studies showing negative impacts, and for me, in the world of nutrition science, a negative will always outweigh the positive. (Did you know there is science that supports tobacco use for certain conditions? Don’t believe me? Look it up. I’m sure we all agree that tobacco is not something we should all partake in willy nilly. In my opinion, the same goes for coffee, but there are plenty of health practitioners who would not agree with me.)

Some of the negatives of coffee:

  • Coffee is a diuretic and contributes to dehydration.
  • Caffeine affects the nervous system and increases heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Caffeine causes the liver to release glucose into the blood, contributing to blood glucose imbalances.
  • Drinking coffee with meals causes gastric emptying too soon, which can lead to inflammation and nutrient deficiencies.
  • The tannins in coffee interfere with mineral absorption, including iron, magnesium and calcium.
  • Coffee is high in salicylates and can be an issue for those with a sensitivity.

There are more – including an association with cancer growth in rats, depression and anxiety.

Regardless of my stance, I do not get all preachy about it. Here is the advice I give to my clients, after arming them with some information:

Try to give up coffee for 30 days and see how you feel. If you choose to continue to drink coffee, try to limit yourself to one per day and have it away from meals.

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About Tira

About Tira

Tira Cole is a nutritionist, researcher and educator. Her passion is meat-based nutrition and support of farming.

Learn more about Tira.

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I don't do coffee, but I wouldn't say no to a bite of steak 😋