Coffee: Yes? No? Maybe?

There are crazy, conflicting headlines about coffee. I’ve seen some that say coffee has wonderful health benefits and others (sometimes the same day!) that coffee should be avoided!

Why the conflicting information? Well, it’s partially due to the fact that we don’t all react exactly the same way to drinking coffee. And usually what’s being talked about in these health articles are people’s reactions to caffeine, not the actual coffee.

Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But…a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine; not just water, but antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds.

So let’s look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not (plus a delicious fall latte recipe that you can make with tea or coffee!).

How quickly do you metabolize caffeine?

Not all people metabolize caffeine at the same rate. How fast you metabolize caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.

About half of us are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine: we can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel “wired” for up to nine hours (!) after having a coffee. The rest of us tend to be “fast” metabolizers where caffeine can trigger increased alertness and energy, but we bounce back to normal a few hours later.

This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much – because we’re all different!

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly due to the different rates of metabolism I mentioned.

Here’s a list of some of these effects:

  • Stimulates the brain;
  • Boosts metabolism;
  • Boosts energy and exercise performance;
  • Increases your stress hormone, cortisol;
  • Dehydrates you (caffeine is a diuretic); and
  • Depletes the body of essential minerals.

Coffee and health risks

There area ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain health conditions. The studies all have varying controls as to the amount of coffee per day, so use this as a very general guide.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability);
  • Increased sleep disruption;
  • Lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s;
  • Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes;
  • Lower risk of certain liver diseases;
  • Mixed reviews on possibly lowering risks of cancer and heart disease.

What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect (either increasing or decreasing) your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical components to consider for your risk of certain diseases or conditions; it’s not just about the coffee.

Feeling like you need coffee to make it through the day due to exhaustion is a sign of imbalance in your body and worth a discussion with your health professional.

Should you drink coffee or not?

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:

  • People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat);
  • People who often feel anxious;
  • People who have trouble sleeping;
  • Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive;
  • Children; and
  • Teens.

If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you do have coffee. Does coffee:

  • Give you the jitters?
  • Increase anxious feelings?
  • Affect your sleep?
  • Give you heart palpitations?
  • Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?
  • Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?

Depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, I recommend eliminating it for a week and see what differences you notice in your body and your moods.

To your health, ease, and joy,


Pumpkin Latte

Serves: 1

  • 3 tbsp full fat coconut milk
  • 1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • splash of maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 cup brewed coffee or tea
  1. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until creamy.

Carolyn S. Barnes, CHC, LMT

Carolyn is an integrative health coach, speaker, Reiki Master and the author of Return to Ease: Gently Reconnect with Your Body’s Natural Mobility and Joy.

She writes and speaks from a personal place–her own journey of healing from various health issues (including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and obesity) and opening to her inner wisdom. Her mission at Return to Ease is to help women who want to experience natural weight management and reconnect with their personal power and true essence. This integrative process of reconnection allows her clients to align their hearts, minds, and bodies while creating a more sacred life filled with health, ease, and joy.

Carolyn received her coaching training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. She specializes in helping women who struggle with emotional/stress eating gain control and experience ease with food and their lives. As a result, her clients experience a newfound appreciation of their bodies, no longer obsess over food, and witness an amazing transformation of more ease and joy in their lives.

To learn more about Carolyn, apply to be a coaching client, order a copy of her book, or book Reiki session, please visit her website.



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