Friday, December 21, 2012

Java java!

Okay, so today’s health blog is about COFFEE! Ah, yes, coffee – one of my favourite things in the world, and so incredibly bad for me. Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, and nearly everyone you meet drinks it. It’s said that coffee was first consumed in Yemen in the 15th century, so we humans have been drinking it for quite some time (no wonder we love it so much!). 62% of Canadians drink it at least every day, with the average coffee-drinker consuming 2.8 cups a day. But, as popular as it is, I’ve often wondered what all that caffeine is doing to us, and whether it’s something I should be worried about or not. So I decided to do a little research, and consequently made the decision to cut coffee out of my life. I’d like to share with you some of the things I learned and the reason behind my decision.

Let’s start with the good things. It’s always nice to start out on the positive side, isn’t it? Coffee can help you feel less depressed, it can keep you regular, it can help you be more focused on your work or sober you up after a long night. There are numerous positive things a human being can get from coffee. For a healthy person, one or two cups of coffee could actually be beneficial, since in moderate levels it can decrease your risk of heart and liver disease, increase your muscle recovery and give your memory a boost. Caffeine’s effect on the dopamine levels in your brain can actually fight mild depression (we all know how much happier we feel after that first cup of coffee in the morning). So I don’t want to give coffee a totally bad rap – the truth is, a cup of black coffee is better for you than an energy drink or a soft drink, so if those are the only other options for you then drink up! (But please, choose Fair Trade Organic coffee! No time to really explain why but do a little research and you will see what I mean.)

However, caffeine and coffee in general can also have some pretty bad side effects on certain people. Caffeine is highly addictive. In fact, caffeine addiction may well be the most common drug addiction, since caffeine is arguably the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world. It’s a stimulant, much in the same way as cocaine and methamphetamine, although much less dangerous, of course. It affects the norepinephrine levels in your body, sending a message to your heart and causing it to beat faster. It can increase anxiety, negatively affect the way your body absorbs iron, and cause heartburn and indigestion. This brings me to the reason why I personally am trying to give up coffee.

The reason I am cutting out coffee is because I have some digestive health problems, and when it comes to your stomach, coffee is not a friend. Anyone with IBS or any other kind of intestinal issues will probably know exactly what I mean by that. Coffee stimulates your gastro-intestinal tract, thus having a laxative-type affect. It’s acidic, which irritates your stomach, and because it elevates your heart rate, blood gets pulled away from the digestive system and towards the heart and this can cause some serious indigestion. It is absolutely essential to my basic health that I stop drinking coffee. But honestly, I find this dependence tougher to give up than nicotine or sugar. It honestly makes me terribly sad to think of a life without coffee…
But, I shall prevail! Before I started this new, healthier lifestyle I drank five or six cups of coffee a day. I have since cut down to one, which I am quite proud of myself for. Caffeine addiction is a tricky mistress, and its withdrawal symptoms are quite nasty. They include depression, irritability, constipation and lack of energy and focus. So for now I’m still going to have that one cup a day, until I feel ready to cut it out completely (probably in a week or so). Once I out coffee for good, I am going to try a few different things as healthy replacements, such as herbal teas or all-natural “faux” coffees, and I will get back to you on how they have helped or not.
I’m sad to see coffee go, but I know my tummy will thank me. Now it’s just a matter of getting past my caffeine addiction and starting a new, coffee-less existence. Wish me luck!

Sources I used for this blog post:

1 comment:

  1. Yay, so proud of you honey! Congrats on cutting down to one coffee a day! I know how hard that can be! I had no idea about the issues around indigestion and stomach problems...great to know! I get bad heartburn (though I think that's due to the amount of pop I drink every day) but I'm gonna think seriously about getting rid of pop and coffee and switch to water and teas :) Thanks!!! Keep up the amazing work!