Is Coffee Good or Bad? (Plus a Valentine’s Chocolate Fat Bombs Recipe)

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Written By

Rhea Dali

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Img 1277 1080X675 1 | Is Coffee Good Or Bad? (Plus A Valentine'S Chocolate Fat Bombs Recipe)

Coffee: Good or bad?

It seems no one can agree.

Some research says “yay” while other research says “nay.”

And, if you’re one of the 8 in 10 Americans who drinks coffee regularly, chances are you like the research that says “yay.” (Bonus Fact: Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee a day. and we spend $30 billion on it every year.)

Given those statistics, c’mob now…Is coffee really all that bad for you?

I mean everyone is doing it…

And it’s at least not any worse than the non-organic apple you buy from the store, or ordering scrambled eggs t Snooze Diner for breakfast (non-pastured or organic)?

After all, little dirt never hurt, and we all have vices right?

Here’s the real scoop on why coffee may not be the best for you—and freedom of choice for you to decide how you proceed.

HOW DO YOU FEEL?

What we put in our body (and become addicted to) has a direct impact on our health and how our body feels—Be it artificial sweeteners or caffeine and coffee.

The crazy thing?

We can become so “addicted” to our substance of choice that we actually disconnect with how our body feels.

Do you…

  • Need coffee to function?
  • Need coffee to poop?
  • Need coffee to wake up and feel human?
  • Need coffee to ‘keep going?’
  • Need coffee to ‘calm down’ or keep alert?
  • Get headaches if you don’t have coffee (or caffeine)?
  • Get jittery if you have coffee (or don’t have coffee)?
  • Experience “crashes” during the day—only relieved by coffee or sugar
  • Get wired and tired at night?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any one of these, chances are you may have trained your body (and mind) to become dependent on coffee.

While coffee is inherently not a “bad thing”—it is when we “need” coffee that things may go a little haywire in our own skin.

Although coffee (caffeine) is seemingly helping you in the short term, copious amounts, or needing it to function, is hurting you in the long run (low baseline energy, hormonal and chemical imbalance, nutritionally deficient), and is ultimately not how your human body was designed to function.

WHAT COFFEE DOES TO YOUR BODY (& STRESS LEVELS)

One word: Cortisol.

Coffee (and caffeine) have a major impact on your body’s stress levels (i.e. cortisol) and your HPA-Axis by and large.

Your HPA-Axis (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis) is the “mothership” of stress, otherwise known as your central stress response system. 

When it is confronted with a stressor—like coffee—it reacts in order to protect you.

Drink coffee—>Elevate cortisol. 

Coffee intake (even just 200 mg—the amount in a 12 oz. cup of coffee) can spike cortisol levels by 30%. Moreover, cortisol can remain elevated for up to 18 hours in the blood (meaning we already put ourselves in a deficit, if we are drinking our first cup of coffee with breakfast, followed by another cup or shot of espresso 3 to 6 hours later).

While cortisol is a natural necessary stress hormone (designed to help you wake up in the morning, endure a tough workout, handle the stress of a boss’s negative feedback and cope with in emergencies when in danger), when we elevate it beyond what it can handle, things go awry.

(Unwanted) elevated cortisol is directly associated with side effects like: increased anxiety, stubborn metabolism or weight gain, disrupted sleep, poor recovery from workouts, increased fatigue, hormonal imbalances, suppressed appetite or insatiable appetite, lowered immunity and sugar cravings.

So imagine what happens if day in and day out, we continue to drink it (sometimes even several times per day)?

We continue to raise cortisol.

(No wonder Americans can’t sleep well or don’t feel rested!  Coffee drinkers consume an average of three nine-ounce cups of coffee per day, and one study found that 90 percent of Americans who drink caffeine drink it in the afternoon, and 69 percent, almost 70 percent, drink it after 6 p.m.).

Our body thinks it’s running from a bear—at all times—and in order to respond, our “alarm sensors” internally are turned up—with no relief in sight.

Over time, our body starts to “crave” coffee—or caffeine—like it does sugar—in order to help keep our cortisol state in its new preferred “high.”

DETOXING OFF COFFEE

So you’re open to coming off the Joe—but how do you start? There are several different approaches you can take, find what fits for you (although I highly encourage you consider #4).

1. Cut back. It is best to slowly reduce your intake of caffeine and coffee. 3-4 cups each day right now? Go to 2…then to 1. Ideally 1 is enough for the average person. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you’ve got this.

2. Replace your crappy coffee with one cup of quality coffee per day (i.e. like butter coffee below) and eliminate artificial sweeteners, poor quality dairy and sugar.

3. Take the Teecino “Kick the Caffiene Habit” Challenge: Teecino is a natural herbal tea that…tastes like coffee! Start by mixing your normal coffee 3/4 to 1/4 Teeccino Caffeine-free Herbal Coffee. Gradually reduce the percentage of your coffee over a two to three week period until you are drinking 100% Teeccino. You should be able to avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms and also gradually adjust your body to less reliance on stimulants.

4. Consider a complete elimination program for at least 7-30 days (if not longer) and avoid all refined sugars, flours, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten and any other addictive substance. By allowing certain triggers to stay in the diet, the body stays on the vicious cycle of cravings and addictive behavior. Reset your biology by eliminating all these dietary triggers for inflammation and fatigue—and see what your body REALLY can feel like (like really good).

NATURAL ENERGY BOOSTERS & CURBERS

While you’re kicking your coffee habit, here are several lifestyle hacks for boosting your energy and decreasing anxiety.

1. Eat nutrient-dense meals throughout the day for energy

Instead of replacing your breakfast with just coffee, eat a breakfast rich in vitamins and minerals—like an omelet with veggies, smoothie with spinach/kale and berries thrown in, or sautéed greens with meat or sausage thrown on top—and of course, avocado.

2. Before eating or drinking anything for the day, first thing, drink 12-16 ounces of filtered water

with lemon and a pinch of sea salt (helps balance body). This not only begins hydrating you, but also aids in digestion (and elimination).

3. Consider supplementing with amino acids.

Did you know that being addicted to coffee may be a sign of an amino acid deficiency? Amino acids are the “building blocks” of neurotransmitters—the “feel-good” chemicals in our brains. When are brains become stripped of these feel-good chemicals, we reach for “drugs” to feel better. If you find you get a ‘withdrawl headache,’ the most often recommended amino acids to take for caffeine addiction are Tyrosine or DLPA (Phenylalaline). Some do better with one, others do better with the other. Try taking 1,000 mg with breakfast, and another 1,000 mg at lunch as you cut out the coffee.

4. Beat constipation.

Many report bowel movements only after drinking coffee. This is no good, as that stressor (of coffee) is actually triggering your ability to poop or not (instead of you naturally being able to go). Get back on the ‘regular’ by drinking water throughout the day (half your bodyweight in ounces). In addition, Magnesium Citrate with Calcium (like Natural Calm) can also be beneficial for getting more regular (as well as battling some for headaches). If you use it, take it at night time in a glass of water before bed (it can also make you sleepy).

5. Move It.

Exercise releases endorphins…endorphins make you happy…and give you less anxiety and more energy too! As counterintuitive as it may seem to exercise at times when feel ‘sluggish’ or energy drained, once you get moving, it’s as if the body awakens! According to research in a New York Times report: University of Georgia researchers decided to study whether exercise can be used to treat fatigue. The research, which appears in the February issue of the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, involved 36 volunteers who were not regular exercisers but who complained of persistent fatigue.

One group of fatigued volunteers was prescribed 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise three times a week for six weeks. The second group engaged in low-intensity aerobic exercise for the same time period, while a third control group did not exercise.Both of the exercise groups had a 20 percent increase in energy levels by the end of the study, compared to the control group. However, it’s important to note that the researchers found that more intense exercise isn’t the best way to reduce fatigue. The low-intensity group reported a 65 percent drop in feelings of fatigue, compared to a 49 percent drop in the group doing more intense exercise.

The bottom line? Move it-even if it’s a 10-minute stroll at lunch; 10 burpees or a tabata of push-ups, squats and sit-ups; a yoga or dance class; CrossFit or weight training-do something you enjoy…and don’t go overboard. The key is to not wear yourself out.

HAVE YOUR CAKE & EAT IT TOO?

So…what type of coffee should “your friend” choose if say, she wanted a little bit of coffee each day?

You’ve probably heard all about the Bulletproof or Butter coffee hype —and, of the different coffee drinks out there, I do like this one primarily because it includes a double dose of healthy fats to help counteract the blood sugar and hormonal insults some coffee can bring.

The secret sauce? Coffee + Butter + MCT Oil + Optional Vanilla Extract and/or Pure Maple Syrup or Stevia= A double dose of healthy fats to amp up your energy for the day.

Why is it “so good” for you?

The butter (or ghee) and MCT Oil (i.e. coconut oil) in the blend provide a solid source of saturated fats connected to benefits like:

  • Boosted brain power and mental clarity/focus
  • Increased digestion
  • Combatting sugar cravings

In addition, the “Bulletproof philosophy” advocates for “quality coffee”—meaning the beans are less moldy than that Folger’s in your cup—and therefore a little bit better for your health (although coffee is STILL one of the moldiest, most toxic foods we can consume).

Is Bulletproof coffee the “bees knees?” (i.e. the best thing in the world).

No.

But, it can be a good alternative to an otherwise toxic, crappy, moldy cup of Joe spiked with double espresso, sugar or sweet things that keep your cortisol levels in a conundrum.

Bonus Fat Bombs Recipe: 

It’s chocolate “season” (i.e. Valentine’s)…so why not whip up something delicious (and nutritious) for you:

Now, thanks to these chocolate Fat Bombs, Bulletproof coffee-drinking (and making) just got that much faster—drop one into your quality roast or herbal tea to get some energy-boosting fats and brain power to amp up your day:

Ingredients: 
Directions:
  • Melt Ghee and Coconut Oil in a microwave safe bowl.

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  • Add in six squares of 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate Premium Baking Bar Chocolate and heat for 30 sec intervals until melted.

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  • Place chocolate cups into the freezer for at least one hour or more until frozen.

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  • Place one Fat Bomb into a coffee cup and brew coffee (or pour in some hot herbal tea) over your fat bomb.

Thrive Tip

Live in Austin? No time to make your own fat bombs?

You MUST check out Ladybird Provisions at the Mueller’s Farmer’s Market on Sunday mornings!

The owner is a health and wellness lifestyle coach who whips up 5 of different flavored Fat Bombs to drop into your coffee or tea.

2 thoughts on “Is Coffee Good or Bad? (Plus a Valentine’s Chocolate Fat Bombs Recipe)

    1. Organic is definitely better!! Instant coffee is most cross contaminating…and everything in moderation–1 cup of quality coffee/day for most people is alright! The bigger question is: If you don’t have it, can you go without it?

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