In last month’s article, I presented the concept that food can be used as medicine. I presented some ideas for managing acid reflux. In that article, I mentioned that coffee can be a trigger for acid reflux. So how does coffee relate to nutrition? What are the positive aspects of coffee and what are the negative considerations? Can a person use coffee as medicine?
First, a little history. As reported by Tori Avey in “The Caffeinated History of Coffee,” the first reports of coffee originate around Ethiopia and Yemen. The ripe coffee fruit is red, and the coffee bean is the seed of the fruit. Roasted coffee beans were first produced by Arabs and the Arab community had control of the coffee market until the Dutch were able to acquire some seed and start plantations around the world. In 1773, when Americans were revolting against the tax on tea, coffee became the acceptable, patriotic choice.
According to the National Coffee Association, more than 65% of Americans drink coffee each day. The average American consumes just less than 3 cups of coffee per day. The United States is the top coffee consuming country in the world with coffee being the first-choice beverage over tea, soft drinks, and juice. Berkeley, California wins the prize for the most coffee shops according to ApartmentGuide.
So, with all this coffee consumption what are the PROS or CONS of coffee consumption?
• Moderate coffee consumption (1 – 4 cups per day) is linked to longer life
• Decreased risk of liver cancer
• Decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease
• Improved clarity in thinking
• Improved regularity of bowel movements
• Inflammation (measured as CRP) can increase with more than 1 cup of coffee per day
• Heart and neurological challenges among infants of mothers who regularly consumed coffee during pregnancy
• Anxiety increased with excessive consumption of coffee
• Difficulty sleeping associated with coffee consumption
• Trigger for diarrhea episodes
• Can promote fatigue through caffeine addiction
Coffee can be a powerful medicine. Caffeine is one of the active ingredients, but there are additional compounds that demonstrate antioxidant and stimulant activity. An important note to understand is that coffee does not produce energy. A black cup of coffee has almost no calories at all. The energy boost from coffee comes from the body response to caffeine, which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce epinephrine. The release of epinephrine causes the body to release more energy from its storage areas, in the same way a whip will cause an animal to move that was not moving before. For an individual who is extremely tired in the morning and “needs” the cup of coffee to get started for the day, this individual is battling a fatigue that is only increased by the regular consumption of coffee.
Coffee can be a good aid for digestion. A small cup of black coffee with a meal will stimulate the digestive process and increase the acidic mixture in the stomach. Between meals only water should be consumed to allow the digestive system to rest. There is no need to stimulate digestion by drinking coffee between meals.
An additional use of coffee by health practitioners throughout the centuries has been the use of coffee as an enema. A properly prepared coffee solution carefully introduced into the rectum has been an effective way to remove constipation and blockages in the colon. Reportedly, this enema was effectively used during World War 1 in the military hospitals when nurses used the coffee enema to aid the recovery of recovering wounded in the military hospitals.
Overall, pay attention to how your body responds when you consume a cup of coffee. Consider what other ingredients such a cream, sugar, or other flavors are being added. What happens if you stop drinking coffee for a day or two? You only get one body in this lifetime. Make sure you take good care of it and do not wear it out sooner than necessary.
I welcome your questions and enjoy the opportunity to discuss healthy options with those who reach out to me with questions.
If you would like to present a question for a future article please write to:
Dr. Noel Aldrich, P.O. Box 167, Northfield, MN 55057
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