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Is coffee good for you?

Coffee is a Bitter

I tell my patients that good quality black coffee is a great (bitter) addition to their diets as long as they don’t have anxiety, insomnia, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). But moderation is also very important here, and adverse reactions should never be ignored.

Depending on the source, you can find evidence of healthful gains or losses concerning your morning cup. However, our bodies communicate clearly when it comes to this enduring question.

New findings on our genetic make-up are closing in on why coffee affects people differently, leading us to the answer that…it all depends on your individual design.

As much as we savor our uniqueness and individuality, for some reason there’s a push for a one-size-fits-all in terms of general medical advice. But learning more about you— and only you—is the best way to get answers to these boundless questions.

Are You a Slow or Fast Metabolizer?

Does coffee send a rush of energy and increase your heartbeat, or is it simply a morning ritual? Are you able to drink a cup and go right to sleep, or would you be staring at the ceiling until 3am?

The answers to these questions show how you metabolize coffee. Basically, any side effects (i.e. anxiousness, digestive problems, sleeplessness, shakiness) reveal the rate in which you process caffeine. And it’s all traced back to the CYP1A2 gene, which is a part of the cytochrome P450 superfamily of enzymes. Coffee helps with phase I detoxification which many people need.

I limit my slow-metabolizing patients to a maximum of 200mg or 1.5 cups per day. My fast metabolizers do OK with 2-3 cups.

A common theme I see in my slow metabolizers (around 55% of females) is that caffeine can intensify PMS, cramping, and breast tenderness during their period. If you experience these symptoms, opt for herbal tea or water with lemon around menstruation time and limit your caffeine intake.

Coffee and Cancer

Coffee is full of bioflavonoids and polyphenols known as “super antioxidants” which promote healthy cell formations and suppress poor cell growth. Because of this relationship to our cells, researchers are finding more connections to coffee’s cancer-fighting properties.
A recent study in France analyzed data from 1,090 breast cancer patients, including the drugs they were taking and their coffee-drinking habits. Those drinking two or more cups a day had half the risk of recurrence compared to those who drank less or no coffee at all. That alone speaks volumes.

Researchers believe that certain substances in coffee reduce cell division and increase cell death by switching off the ‘signaling pathways’ that cancer cells need in order to grow and divide.

Coffee also seems to super-charge the cancer drug tamoxifen, which all the women in the study were taking, and make it more effective.

Please Drink Responsibly

Whether you metabolize it slowly or quickly, drink coffee wisely. Limit intake to mid-morning or early afternoon. Coffee blunts your body’s natural cortisol production, and drinking it too late in the day will introduce problems—no matter how your body processes it.

Across the board, sleep is severely adversely affected. For slow metabolizers, it’s obvious when you can’t catch a wink—but for fast metabolizers, caffeine’s effects can take the form of sleep apnea, lowering the quality of your sleep.

Use Coffee as Medicine, Not an Addiction

Most people don’t think of coffee as a source of protein or as a meal. I prefer eating the rainbow with a variety of whole foods for breakfast but if you enjoy the ritual of making, smelling and tasting your morning coffee, why not add good quality organic grass-fed Collagen and Gelatin and give yourself a 25g protein boost while you’re at it? Your skin and joints will love it!

Shrooms in your coffee

Say what? Medicinal mushrooms and coffee were two things I never would mix together but stay tuned for my future blog on what I recommend for my coffee lovers and how to boost your immunity while you enjoy your coffee. Stay healthy with your super-food mushroom drink.

Don’t Skimp on Quality

Coffee isn’t considered a food product, so there’s no limit to the pesticides that growers can use. I tell my patients that they should only drink organic, especially for decaf, since non-organic coffee beans are decaffeinated by a chemical process.

Last, skip the pod coffee. Yes, it’s easy, but it’s not high quality and rarely organic.

Not quite sure if coffee is a friend or foe? Your genetic story can be told in one simple saliva sample.

What do you think? Is coffee good for YOU?


Blue skies,

Dr. Afrouz

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