This is a touchy subject — and I totally get that. People (worldwide!) are really attached to their morning cup of joe.
But, as with any of the Health Hacks, I won’t post something unless:
- It’s something I personally practice and/or have struggled with
- I’ve experienced significant, tangible, verifiable success with it
- I’ve done the research and/or talked to the experts
- I would whole-heartedly recommend it to all my loved ones, without reservation
Coffee is extremely bad for your health.
Over two years ago, my naturopathic doctor finally convinced me to give up coffee and caffeine in general. And I did as he asked — for a while. Then, (and don’t tell him this) I found myself hooked on it again. How, you might ask? A few bad nights’ sleep, coupled with the desperate need to be functional at work, and suddenly I was no longer 100% convinced that what he was saying truly applied to me. (It was only a cup a day. I mean, what harm could that possibly do?) Within weeks of resuming daily black tea and (mainly) coffee consumption, many of my old health issues began to resurface — and it was at this point that I knew I would have to give all of it up for good.
Except, I didn’t. Not really, anyway.
I was great for the best part of a year and a half — perfect, in fact. I felt great, I was pain-free, and I was sleeping through the night. But then, and I’m not even really sure what happened, I found myself drinking decaffeinated organic coffee over the holiday season and into the early New Year. (Like the words decaffeinated and organic would somehow magically absolve me from all the other “silent” evils coffee does to the human body. I mean, really… What was I thinking?) It’s basically the same logic as smoking two hand-rolled cigarettes a day instead of two packs of the manufactured kind because you want to be healthier. Sure, it’s an improvement (relatively-speaking), but it’s still not good for you!
Fortunately, I snapped out of whatever self-rationalizing delusion I was experiencing before things could spin out of control again. Watching Dr. Lee’s video (more than) a few times in recent months has also helped to fortify my resolve. (Seriously. Where would I be without his YouTube channel between visits?) It’s a bit of a longer one, however, it really does do a beautiful job of breaking down the whole “why coffee is bad” thing into easy-to-understand, digestible chunks.
- Consuming coffee has been likened to “smoking for the digestive system” — it negatively affects your stomach, intestines, pancreas, liver, kidneys, bladder, and gall bladder
- Coffee is a pro-oxidant which is the total opposite of those 0h-so-good-for-you antioxidants — the action of roasting, charring, and burning foodstuffs (of any kind) causes oxidization [5:36]
- Coffee beans (they’re actually a fruit) are only antioxidants in their natural, green form, however, we use them in their dark, roasted form (which unfortunately turns them into pro-oxidants) [6:00]
- Coffee stimulates stomach acid production — which is a problem because most people drink it away from food, limiting their digestive capacity for the rest of the day… and due to the fact that we don’t produce “unlimited” stomach acid, this can cause digestive issues (e.g., heartburn, weird stomach noises) and blood-sugar balance/regulation issues [7:20]
- Coffee creates a large amount of acidity in the body which (for many people) leads to painful inflammation issues (e.g., arthritis, gastritis, gout) and even “silent” issues, such as bone loss [8:52]
- Coffee is a stimulant which increases cortisol levels and can lead to adrenal fatigue — your adrenals regulate stress and inflammation, so you kinda’ need them to be in tip-top condition [10:32]
- Coffee interferes with detoxification in the liver (Fun Fact: Our liver is responsible for over 500 jobs, including the removal of all those nasty environmental toxins we absorb and eat on a daily basis) [13:10]
- Coffee is a diuretic and causes the body to lose water — this counts against your daily water intake (Click here for more information on proper hydration) [15:56]
- Coffee culture (especially) in North America promotes the inclusion of nutrient-deficient, calorie-dense additives such as “toppings” and sugary syrups — and let’s face it: most people don’t drink their coffee black [17:12]
Important to Know:
- Decaffeinated coffee still contains caffeine — think back to my cigarette analogy: “less” does not equal “healthy” [19:00]
- Many companies use formaldehyde in their decaffeination process (the Swiss water technique is much safer) [19:18]
- Plastic components and filters in coffee makers (when exposed to high temperatures) can leach chemicals into your coffee [19:28]
- Paper filter papers can add unwanted chemicals into your coffee — which, again, oxidize body tissues [19:46]
- Most coffee beans are action-packed with pesticides: coffee is of the world’s most heavily sprayed crops (organic beans are much safer in this respect) [20:06]
- Even one cup of coffee is a lot — so you can only imagine the negative impact 2-4 cups a day (or more!) over a period of years must have on your health
Always keep in mind that caffeine is a stimulant, and while natural, still a drug. You will begin the “detoxification process” once you miss your first regularly-scheduled dose. I’ve personally experienced the headaches and general feeling of achy yuckiness (as well as the intense irritability that makes people temporarily want to avoid you) for periods of 3 days, up to a little over a week — depending on how heavy my consumption was at the time.
So, yes, while the withdrawal symptoms certainly suck, I can honestly attest to the fact that giving up coffee (and caffeine in general) is 110% worth it. My digestion is good, my sleep is good, and my osteoarthritis is in check. Put coffee and/or caffeine back into the picture? All of those “good” things start to slowly disappear.
For me, it’s become an “all or nothing” prospect — so I choose to exclude myself from the “coffee club” completely. However, if you’re one of the lucky ones who can indulge yourself (and I’m talking only once-in-a-blue-moon here) without slipping into old habits, have the occasional cup as a special treat. Go ahead! Enjoy your Pumpkin-Spice whatever each October — totally guilt-free!
As for the rest of us though?
I highly recommend a lovely cup of spicy herbal tea with just a touch of raw honey — all organic, of course.
For more information on hidden sources of caffeine, click here.
For more useful health hacks, click here.