Health & Wellness

Nutritionally Speaking: Spring forward with coffee!

Raise your hands if you are looking forward to losing an hour of sleep this weekend as we ”Spring forward” and adjust our clocks an hour forward Saturday night. While I’m not going to review the negative health effects experienced by some folks, many complain about fatigue and coffee sails soaring as a result! Is this OK, or is it a ”Houston, we have a problem” issue?
As many of you may know we offer my health coaching services for free at the store. The health history form I use has a section for water, caffeine and alcohol intake. Many nutritionists and health coaches suggest that a good amount of water intake is to imbibe half our body weight in ounces each day. A person weighing 150 lbs. would then aim to drink around 75 ounces of water daily.
We ask about caffeinated beverages, juices and alcoholic beverages, in part because they are diuretic, and when we drink that 16 ounce latte or cold brew, we will lose around 20 ounces of water (which should be replaced). Other than the time consumed with the repeated trips to the bathroom, we risk being chronically dehydrated. Caffeinated beverages can also add stress to our endocrine system – depending on the person and how much they consume.
So you can imagine that when I am often alarmed to hear that they were drinking a lot of coffee:10 to 12 cups each day! They see my alarm and ask if this is not a healthy habit?
While we each have different nutritional needs, my first response to most questions of this sort is just like what our mothers always said – anything may be OK in moderation. There are many reasons why for most of us coffee is a healthy choice, but first let’s explore some coffee basics. (In full disclosure I am enjoying a hot cup of fair trade decaf organic coffee as I write this column.)
The evergreen coffea bush includes two commonly known species, Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora (robusta). The ripe beans are picked, processed dried and then roasted. We are fortunate to have many dedicated coffee roasters in our valley, each claiming to have the perfect formula for roasting coffee beans to produce the best tasting cup of coffee.
Coffee can be enjoyed with or without the naturally occurring caffeine, an alkaloid compound that has a stimulating effect on humans, (a great feature with daylight savings time changes). The brewing method determines the caffeine level. A cup of espresso will yield about 185 milligrams of caffeine; the drip method, 115 to 175mg.; brewed coffee between 80 to 135mg.; and decaf only about three mg.
Coffee is often decaffeinated using solvents such as methylene chloride, but the healthier Swiss-water-process that roasters of organic coffee use does not leave a harmful chemical residue.
In his book, ”The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,” author and nutritionist Jonny Bowden includes coffee as a healthy beverage choice. In this book, he describes the health benefits of antioxidants that occur naturally in coffee. Two of the antioxidants responsible for coffee’s health benefits are chlorogenic and caffeic acids. A typical coffee drinker may get as much as one gram of chlorogenic acid and 500 mg. of caffeic acid daily.
The antioxidant and cell-protective chlorogenic acid has been found to reduce the absorption of new glucose, and can slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream after a meal. Caffeine can counter this effect, so decaffeinated coffee would be a better choice for diabetics and anyone interested in maintaining a healthy level of blood sugar, avoiding the blood sugar roller coaster effect of Hyperglycemia (too much blood sugar) and Hypoglycemia (not enough blood sugar).
A 2006 study of more than 40,000 post-menopausal women found that consumption of coffee inhibited inflammation, as well as reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory diseases. Another 2006 study reported in the Journal of Cardiac Failure indicated that caffeine increases exercise tolerance in patients with heart failure.
For many of us, just smelling coffee can make us feel less stressed. Researchers at the Seoul National University examined the brains of rats that were stressed due to sleep deprivation and discovered that those who were exposed to coffee aromas experienced changes in brain proteins tied to that stress.
It is important to note that this aroma study doesn’t relate to stress by itself, only to the stress felt as a result of sleep deprivation. I’m not entirely sure if this means you should keep a bag of roasted coffee beans on your nightstand every night, but feel free to try, and let me know?
The data that first caught my attention in Bowden’s book was his reference to a Finnish study reported in the Hormone and Metabolic Research journal that indicated that coffee actually showed an ”inverse relationship with fasting insulin and with blood sugar markers.” The researchers believed that consumption of coffee could reduce the risk of type II diabetes.
As I also suggest for chocolate, I strongly support purchasing coffee that is organic and has Fair Trade certification, like Cafeto Coffee at Blue Valley Bistro. Several agencies help ensure that coffee growers get fairly compensated for their labor and responsible stewardship of their lands.
My favorite ways to enjoy coffee is either black, with a dollop of heavy cream, or ”bullet-proof” style as developed by entrepreneur Dave Asprey. The addition of unsalted grass-fed butter (or ghee), and medium chain triglycerides from coconut oil (MCT Oil) – or coconut oil – according to Asprey, supports cognitive function.
Just combine your hot brewed coffee with a tbsp. each of butter and coconut oil in the blender for a few seconds, and enjoy a frothy smooth, healthy and delightful beverage. Maybe then we’ll fair a bit better as we ”Spring forward.” Salud!
For more information on this and other health-related topics, come in to see me at the Eugene Natural Grocers store. We offer free classes and free one-on-one health coaching sessions, so call 541-345-3300. Find our store’s schedule of free classes at



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