Coffee: friend or foe?
Good Morning friends! I hope this finds you well. As you probably know, I love my coffee. I try to stick to one coffee a day but some days I need the loving of that second cup. At home my coffee is made in our little machine from coffee beans and I have mine with rice milk, my milk of choice, simply because of all of my intolerances. When I’m out I order a long black, which I enjoy almost as much. Hubby and I both love our coffees and as it is with most things when you are a parent, your choices influence your children. My Miss 17 and Miss 15 enjoy coffee, particularly a homemade ice coffee (shot of coffee, ice and milk of choice), Miss 17 has one most mornings and Miss 15 has 1-2 a week. My 8 year old daughter LOVES coffee too and begs for a mouthful or two to be left for her and every other weekend gets a Mocha (half coffee and half chocolate). Her twin brother sticks to his hot chocolate and is a big fan of herbal tea! Through my children’s friends and social media also I am seeing more and more young people drinking coffee and not one a day at 17 but 4,5,6,7 cups a DAY and then commenting on their ability to not sleep, their bad eating habits (coffee bars and chocolate as opposed to a meal), anxiety and many other issues. Which brings me to question coffee, what age is ok? How many coffees a day is OK? I’m keen to know the good and the bad. I have asked my trusted friend and Naturopath of many years (he has been my Naturopath for many years and a Naturopath for an amazing 30 years!), Peter Mullen, from Mullen Health to delve into this for us. I hope you enjoy the read as much as I did.
Coffee: friend or foe?
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world with more than 400 billion cups consumed each year. On average, Australians drink 9.5 cups of coffee every week.
Whether you love an extra hot double-shot soy latte or an instant brew, the chances are coffee is part of your daily routine. More than a quarter of Australians say they can’t survive the day without coffee, and our love affair is starting younger and younger.
But is the humble cup of joe a friend or a foe when it comes to your health?
The most obvious benefit and the reason most people drink coffee — increased energy levels! This can improve concentration and learning. Beyond this, many studies have shown that coffee may have many health benefits, including reduced risk of:
- Cardiovascular disease including heart attack, heart failure and stroke
- Parkinson’s disease
- type 2 diabetes
- liver disease
- uterine and liver cancer
Coffee also contains antioxidants and has been shown to be beneficial for weight loss, as it can decrease your appetite and boost your metabolic rate by 3 to 11%.
Equally, some studies have found risks related to high consumption of coffee. Drawbacks include:
- Coffee is highly acidic and too much can lead to acid stress
- Caffeine can exacerbate anxiety and can lead to adrenal fatigue over time if overused
- Coffee can also aggravate reflux, hot flushes and migraines
- Coffee can lead to sleep disturbance
- Coffee increases blood pressure
- Coffee can irritate the gall bladder
- Many coffee beans are heavily contaminated with pesticides
In my opinion, coffee is fine for your health so long as you keep your habit in check.
I recommend no more than 1 to 2 cups of coffee per day. It’s also important to:
- enjoy organic freshly ground coffee — beans that are pre-ground are already rancid
- drink your coffee before midday so that it doesn’t interfere with your sleep
- keep it black — adding milk can interfere with your body’s absorption of beneficial chlorogenic acids, while adding sugar can increase your risk of insulin resistance.
- avoid dairy — if you want to add a dash of milk, I recommend dairy-free alternatives like almond milk or fermented soy milk.
Who shouldn’t drink coffee?
Importantly, I don’t recommend coffee if you are pregnant, trying to fall pregnant or breastfeeding.
How young is too young?
New research shows that about 15% of Australian teenagers are regularly drinking coffee.
While coffee isn’t the only caffeinated drink on the market (energy drinks anyone?), it’s important to understand the effects of coffee on kids.
Caffeine is a stimulant which increases alertness by binding to the adenosine receptors in your brain, preventing the chemical from making you feel tired. Sleep is incredibly important for a child’s development — kids aged 5 to 12 need at least 11 hours of sleep per day, and teenagers need 9 to 10. Coffee can adversely impact their ability to get enough rest which can, in turn, slow down the maturing process of their brains.
Caffeine also has more than twice the impact on children than it does on adults, which means that teenagers are more likely to experience symptoms like anxiety, insomnia and nervousness.
Drinking too much coffee can also impact a teenager’s nutrition, as it can inhibit hunger.
While there are no Australian guidelines for caffeine consumption in children, the United States National Institute of Health states caffeine should be completely restricted in a child’s diet as there is no nutritional requirement for it.
In my opinion, caffeine should be avoided in teenage years to ensure your child gets enough sleep and nutrition for proper development.
You can enjoy your cup of joe guilt-free, so long as you keep your habit in check. Remember:
- No more than 1 to 2 cups of coffee per day
- Keep it fresh
- Drink it early
- Stick to black
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