Why give up coffee?
But first, coffee…
There’s something to be said about the sanctity of the morning ritual of getting a cup of coffee. Whether it’s fumbling with the coffee machine through bleary eyes, or heading to your local café on the way to work, for many it becomes an almost subconscious part of our daily routine.
Personally, I feel like coffee has saved me on many occasions, and if I was ever to write an unnecessary memoir the title would be ‘I owe it all to coffee’. Without it, I’m pretty sure I would have slept in, made multiple gaffs in early morning meetings, and suffered from decreased productivity. I think Jerry Seinfeld nailed it when he said;
‘We want to do a lot of stuff, we’re not in great shape. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep. We’re a little depressed. Coffee solves all those problems in one delightful little cup.’
So, it goes without saying that every time news headlines feature the word ‘coffee’, I pay attention. Over the past few years there have been claims that it is detrimental to your health, then beneficial, and back and forth the pendulum swings. So, is this all fake news? Do I really need to give up my cup of coffee?
Coffee has been around for a long time. I have it on solid Wikipedia grounds that coffee originated in the tenth century, from coffee forests on Ethiopian plateaus. It was also here that one of the most important discoveries impacting our adult lives was made: that coffee gives you energy. These days there are clear differences in how coffee is consumed across the globe. From an ‘Espresso Romano’ in Italy to a Sweet Iced Coffee served in Vietnam, each place has its own take on how best to enjoy a caffeine hit.
Having lived in Melbourne for several years, I have been lucky enough to take full advantage of the coffee culture there. A veritable breeding ground for coffee snobs, order a ‘magic’ or a ‘ristretto’ and the hipster barista will know exactly what you are talking about. With new fusions such as Turmeric and Matcha lattes, and coffee served in ice-cream cones, it has also unwittingly become the social media star of the beverage world.
Clearly, it’s a global love affair that isn’t going away. In fact, statistics show that thanks to millennials coffee consumption is on the increase.
So, does caffeine harm or help the body? Here’s a look at some of the reasons for and against.
The positive effects of giving up coffee
Is quitting coffee something you have considered? Here are some reasons why reducing or cutting out coffee from your diet is a good idea:
Protect your teeth
Consuming large quantities of caffeine can erode tooth enamel and cause staining. If coffee is consumed shortly after a tooth extraction it heightens the risk of a painful condition called ‘dry socket’.
Reduce risks in pregnancy
Research has shown that caffeine can also alter the body’s hormone levels and have a negative impact on pregnancy. Some of my pregnant friends have substituted coffee for a cup of cacao, which is touted to be a delicious energy enhancing drink.
Excess caffeine has been shown to heighten anxiety, and can trigger panic attacks. If you are suffering from anxiety, consider limiting the amount of caffeine you consume.
Ditch an addiction
Regular consumption of coffee can alter the brain’s chemical makeup, and caffeine withdrawal symptoms include headaches, nausea and mental fogginess, which explains why it’s hard to give up coffee.
The health benefits of coffee
However, there are also many great reasons to keep collecting those coffee stamp cards.
Recently, a number of studies have shown that coffee drinkers have a lowered risk of dying from diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers, and that coffee drinkers tend to live longer than those who go without.
Some of the chemicals in coffee have neuroprotective properties that can help reduce the inflammation seen to play a role in Alzheimers and Dementia.
Coffee has antioxidants & nutrients
A little known fact is that coffee is also high in antioxidants, and contains a number of essential nutrients such as Magnesium and Potassium.
Boost your workout
Want to smash those fitness goals? Drink coffee! It can help your muscles through increasing your exercise performance, and boosting your metabolism. Gym junkies have been known to use coffee as great pre-workout fuel.
What’s the verdict?
Factors such as the type of coffee you drink, your tolerance, and individual physiology will all impact how much coffee is safe for you to consume.
Caffeine, like most things, is better in moderation, and between two to four cups (around 200mg of coffee) is recommended for most people. Don’t forget that caffeine intake also comes from soft drinks, tea and desserts, so consider what else you are consuming when deciding on whether you should take another sneaky coffee break at work.
If you’re worried that your caffeine habit is too extreme, here’s a little tip: consider alternating between caf and decaf cups of coffee throughout the day.
And if all else fails, just remember to go with your gut feeling (pun intended). Personally, I pity the fool that tries to talk to me before I’ve had my morning cup, which means my coffee addiction is also a form of community service. I’m going to happily continue getting my two piccolos a day.