Image Credit: I Love Coffee
That’s because we’re all guided by a 24-hour biological cycle, known as the circadian clock. When you first wake up your brain is already flooded with cortisol, a natural chemical that helps to keep you alert. So although you might feel like a coffee, you don’t actually need one. Best to wait until cortisol levels drop later in the day.
Like alcohol, coffee is yet another touchy dietary subject with a plethora of for-and-against campaigns. For me, these arguments really come down to the quality of the bean and how it is grown, processed, produced, poured and sipped! Depending on where the beans are sourced, how they’re treated and processed and what you add to your cuppa, is the difference between feeling anxious, wired, bloated and headachy, or clear-headed, sharp and satisfied. Bad coffee is absolutely terrible for your health, good coffee can bring a host of health benefits.
However, I’m not wanting to advocate coffee as a health food in this post! Obviously coffee is a very pervasively addictive drink, so if you have to drink it, do it this way. If you have energy/hormone/sleep issues I definitely recommend you should cut it out. Furthermore, caffeine-dependency is not good in any way. I would never recommend drinking coffee to “get you through the day” – I drink it to enhance my performance. If my energy is lacking then the first thing I look to is getting more sleep and looking to my diet – more fresh plant produce, increased good quality fats and proteins, reduced sugar.
- Freshly ground and filtered black espresso with a teaspoon of grass-fed butter and/or high quality coconut oil / MCT oil
- Only ever drink coffee before 1pm and when I know I’m exercising afterwards (be it a weights session in the gym, a yoga / pilates / gyrotonic / dance class, or a long walk in the park)
- No more than one coffee per day
- Never have coffee 7 days of the week – I’m a control freak and never want to be dependant on anything!
Follow these 5 steps to get the most from coffee
1. QUALITY – organic, spray-free whole un-ground beans, free from mycotoxins (moulds). Look for coffee houses that offer single-origin coffee and do not rely on blended coffee – ideally they roast their own beans!
Avoid – instant coffee, pre-ground beans and ‘blends’ of coffee beans – these cannot survive even a week before becoming rancid and growing toxic moulds.
2. BREWING – freshly grind the beans, filter through an espresso machine or French press – these ensure the coffee oils that turn off brain inflammation are preserved.
Avoid – bleached filters if you’re using a “drip” coffee maker – bright white filters are bleached with chlorine and some of this chlorine will be extracted from the filter during the brewing process.
3. MIXERS – drink coffee black or with a teaspoon of good quality coconut oil / MCT oil and/or good quality grass-fed butter (Anchor, Kerry Gold, Yeo Valley, Rachel’s Organic). Adding these fats slows down the impact the caffeine has on your blood-sugar levels (I also always carry a small jar of coconut oil around with me!)
Avoid – any form of pasteurised cows/nut/grain/soya milk and any form of sugar – these completely change the chemistry of the coffee! They can spike your insulin, cause insulin resistance and contribute to unhealthy fat storage.
4. VESSEL – ideally sip your coffee from a glass or ceramic cup, or BPA free takeaway cups or cups made from plant starch.
Avoid – styrofoam and plastic cups made from BPA as the plastic will migrate into your blood.
5. TIME-FRAME – drink within ten minutes and you will soak up the best of the antioxidants.
Avoid – sipping on long awaited cold coffee, and avoid drinking coffee after 1pm – the latter part of the day is for slowing down and preparing for restful sleep.
The benefits after following these 5 steps:
- Antioxidants which contribute to anti-aging – coffee can trigger a mechanism in your brain that releases a growth factor called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) – basically this means more brain cells are produced which allows your brain to stay young.
- Better memory and brain function – “Research has shown that both whole cocoa beans and coffee have remarkable neuroprotective properties. There is emerging evidence that South American societies who drink freshly ground coffee from whole coffee beans have the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.” Ori Hofmekler
- Increased metabolism and healthy fat loss – coffee is a potent thermogenic which means it can increase your metabolism by up to 20 percent
- Improved physical performance – caffeine can increase your power output as it is an ergogenic aid. Stimulating BDNF also helps reduce age related muscle tissue atrophy. These results are optimised when coffee is drunk on an empty stomach before working out
- Reduced sugar cravings – sensible coffee drinking can improve insulin sensitivity, so not only can it reduce your craving for sweets but long term can also lower your risk of stroke and diabetes. “If you are addicted to sugar…and you really want to train your body gradually get rid of this addiction…Train yourself to drink black coffee. Drink it sugarless on an empty stomach and you will see how, gradually, the cravings will dissipate.” Ori Hofmekler
When not to drink coffee:
- If you’re pregnant – coffee can cause iron deficiency in mothers and babies
- After working out – mucks with your muscle building potential
- If you suffer from major hormonal imbalances, sleep difficulties or a depressed immune system – coffee stimulates the hormones adrenaline and cortisol which are often already too high in these cases
- If you have an issue with decreased adrenal function – perhaps it’s time to allow yourself to rest, nourish and reset
- If you’re feeling stressed or anxious – prioritise your values and face your problems rather than racing past them
- If you need coffee to function – you’re addicted and need to trust you have all you need within you already!
- If it’s with sugar, milk or if it’s decaffeinated – you don’t love coffee, you’re addicted to sugar!
So, if you drink coffee, just make sure it’s of top quality and is for the right reasons! Not everyone responds to, and metabolises caffeine in the same way, so tune in before and after you sip. Follow the 5 steps above to optimise your cuppa and after time why not try a day, or week without coffee!
Read more here, from the incredible Dave Asprey