The light and dark side of Coffee

It used to typically be Americans who would wake up to a steaming cup of Java and us Brits would start the day with a nice cup of Tetley. However, times have changed. We now seem to have a Starbucks on every corner too and it has become our daily habit.
Personally I think there are pros and cons to the whole coffee topic. Let’s start by asking ourselves some of the following questions:
• Are you reaching for coffee to receive its antioxidant benefits? It is true that coffee contains some flavonoids but you could get those from a good diet containing fruit and veggies.

• Are you drinking Skinny Vanilla Lattes, Caramel Macchiatos and the like? If so then we’re not really discussing coffee on it’s own, we are talking about adding highly processed, calorific sugary syrups into the mix. Did you know that some of those Starbucks drinks have as many as 640 calories per serving? I know I wouldn’t want to be adding that into my life. I’d much rather have an espresso and munch on a chunk of goat’s cheese.

• Do you need a cup to get you out of bed in the mornings? When we are at optimum health we should not NEED caffeine to wake up. We may WANT it but that’s different. If you feel you need it just to function well there may be some other factors at play such as; not getting the right amount of sleep, lack of physical exercise, food intolerances, hormonal issues, stress issues, not enough sunshine (we’ll blame England for that one). Another thing to bear in mind is that one becomes tolerant of caffeine very quickly and having the same amount every day is not going to do much. In order to get your tolerance back you have to go cold turkey before re-introducing it.

• Are you reaching for an afternoon pick me up? Again, perhaps take a look at what you’re eating for lunch; are you intolerant to any of these foods? Are they making you feel more sluggish than you should? It may be worth looking at some of those factors. Consider taking a walk in the fresh air during lunch or doing a workout instead of reaching for stimulants like caffeine?

The Dark side
The downside of caffeine being a stimulant is that for some sensitive people or the high adrenal “type A” sort of person those temporary effects can cause just as many negative ones. EG.
The jitters
Insomnia
Energy crashes
Heart palpitations.

Take me for example, I cannot have one past 9am or I will not be able to get to sleep that night. The after effects of caffeine can last for up to 8-14 hours in some people.
Caffeine not only feels addictive but it is frequently over indulged in for social purposes, out of habit or because we have built up a resistance to it’s affects and keep needing more for it to work.

On the Bright Side
Of course there are times when you have to catch that early flight or study for a deadline and those are the times that coffee will be of help. Just try not to abuse the stuff and only use it when you really need the affects.

Other benefits:
Antioxidants
Appetite Suppressant
Improved concentration and mood
Temporary heightened energy and memory
Nice to meet up for socialising

Which coffee should I drink if I do want to drink it?

• I would always go organic where possible. If you make yours at home then it’s easy to buy organic and worth the few extra quid in my opinion. However, if you’re grabbing on the go, Pret a Manger and more and more boutique coffee shops are serving organic coffee.
Coffee plants are one of the most highly sprayed crops going.
Imagine how many toxic chemicals and pesticides you are ingesting every time you drink a cup. YUCK.

• If you can, try and get used to less or no sugar in your coffee, or use a healthier type of sweetener such as Xylitol or Stevia that would really help.
If you’re going to add cow’s milk go for full fat organic as opposed to skimmed or low fat There are more and more studies being done on this click on this if you want to read more (links to studies can be found throughout article)

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/12/275376259/the-full-fat-paradox-whole-milk-may-keep-us-lean

For those who are lactose intolerant or vegan, try almond or coconut milk.

Some Tips for buying coffee

1. It’s best to buy the full beans and grind them as needed
2. Here is a link to a great little travel coffee maker so you can have fresh coffee on the go
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bodum-Travel-Press-Coffee-Maker/dp/B0042RU4X0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1393258771&sr=8-2&keywords=coffee+press+mug
3. Always store in a cool dry place, not in the freezer as can encourage mould growth
4. Kona and Sumatra coffee beans have the least amount of acidity. Although they can be pricey! Wholefoods in Kensington do a nice organic Sumatra coffee bean.
5. This company also make some good organic beans http://www.realcoffee.co.uk/shop/Ethical/Organic-Coffee/?gclid=CNeDmeam5bwCFdQPtAodYREAdQ