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The truth about coffee

Is coffee good or bad for your health? Clinical nutritionist Jan Denecke from Rozelle explores the impact of coffee on your health.

The truth about coffee

Long black, macchiato, flat white, cappuccino, latte, mocha, caramel latte, cold dripped…. In the last decade, coffee culture has been on the rise. For many, it kicks starts the day and keeps you going. And while there has been a lot of research to suggest coffee has some great health benefits, for many, it also has some downsides. Clinical nutritionist and holistic health coach Jan Denecke shares health insights about coffee, and some great alternatives for those who want to wind down from it.

Coffee consumption is one of those subjects that I regularly discuss with my clients in clinic, especially clients who experience high stress in their life.

The caffeine from coffee causes the brain to send neural signals to the adrenal glands (via the pituitary gland) to produce adrenaline and cortisol; our fight and flight (stress) hormones. The production of these hormones has a short term effect and can trigger an enhanced mood, alertness/concentration and better exercise performance.

Several studies show that daily coffee intake in moderation (1-2 cups a day) will not cause major jumps in cortisol. However, those with very stressful lives, with busy working days, deadlines and performance pressure could feel a greater stress response when dealing with stressors and drinking coffee. When our body and mind are under constant pressure, chronic stress will deplete our cortisol reserves. Coffee can worsen this. That is why I always recommend clients who are under enormous stress to reduce coffee intake.

Additionally, coffee can also be addictive as it increases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that gives us a feeling of being rewarded. For those who are addicted to coffee, it is recommended to slowly reduce their coffee intake rather than cut it out cold turkey.

But despite these factors, is coffee bad? The answer is no!

Coffee contains polyphenol, which is a rich antioxidant. This antioxidant has been proven to improve insulin sensitivity, resulting in a greater protection against type 2 diabetes and weight gain. Coffee is also suggested to be protective against Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and liver disease.

To determine whether or not you should drink coffee, there are some important to keep in mind:

  • Coffee suppresses appetite and might therefore reduce food intake and the uptake of necessary nutrients to stay alert and awake. So be aware of the addictive effects of coffee and where it can become a food replacement.
  • Coffee can reduce the absorption of calcium – that is why I recommend to drink coffee at least one hour separated from food
  • If you drink coffee, drink it in the first half of the day! This reduces the chance of the caffeine impacting your sleep cycle and causing sleep difficulty.

With these tips, it becomes easier to determine whether or not coffee should be a part of your life, and to identify if you are using coffee as a dietary crutch or stress coping mechanism.

If you need help with your coffee intake, stress and food, Jan Denecke is available at the Rozelle clinic, call 9810 8769 to contact him.

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