Life on this planet wouldn’t be nearly as nice, or perhaps even survivable without a few things, namely naps, dogs, and coffee.
Coffee has a way of completely seducing us and making us unable to get through a day without it. Just the smell of coffee brewing is enough to help most of us snap out of our morning fog. Then there’s the taste – well, there is simply nothing else like it. When you finally add its caffeinated effects, it becomes crystal clear why our nation seems to be obsessed with the stuff. America does indeed seem to run on coffee.
But are we, as a nation, drinking too much java for our own good?
How Much of a Good Thing is Too Much?
You’ve probably read many times that coffee in moderation (meaning one or two small cups a day) is okay, and even provides some health benefits. And this is true. Coffee, provided it is organic and not loaded with any harsh chemicals, can be a good source of antioxidants that can fight the free radicals roaming around your body.
Researchers have also found that coffee may protect against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and some forms of cancer.
So, if coffee can be so good for us, what’s the problem? Why even bother with healthier coffee alternatives?
The problem is, most of us go overboard when it comes to consuming coffee. One or two small cups turns into two or three Venti Lattes from Starbucks laden with sugar.
Think of the little cups your grandmother may have had or you’ve seen at an antique store. They hold a legitimate cup of liquid. They are not our versions of “cups,” which are really giant mugs that hold four or more cups of liquid. If you are very confused right now, go find your measuring cup and see for yourself what an actual CUP of liquid looks like. Now pour it into the giant coffee mug you drink from each morning.
Oops is right.
Chances are, you like everyone else, is drinking far too much coffee for optimal health. And there’s a good reason you’re doing this: caffeine is addictive. And when you combine caffeine with sugar – it’s a perfect storm of complete dependence on chemicals just to get through the day. And so, you end up drinking far too much of it.
Here’s why too much coffee can be a bad thing:
It Messes with Your Digestion
For many people, their morning coffee IS their breakfast, meaning they drink copious amounts on an empty stomach. The problem with drinking coffee on an empty stomach is that it stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid (HCI). In the same way eating too much sugar causes problems with insulin production, stimulating HCI but giving it nothing to digest interrupts normal activity.
If your body is “forced” to make too much HCI because of coffee, it may begin to have a hard time producing enough of it to actually digest a large meal.
Then what happens?
Eventually undigested food passes through your small intestines. These undigested proteins are linked to a variety of health problems such as bloating, gas, diverticulitis, IBS and even colon cancer.
It Causes Ulcers
One of the draws of coffee is its completely unique flavor and aroma. When those come from certain compounds in the coffee bean that are quite acidic. These acids can irritate the lining of your stomach and small intestine.
While ulcers are now believed to be caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, many medical experts are pointing to the acidic effect coffee has on the stomach which weakens the lining and allows H. pylori to take hold and wreak havoc.
And speaking of acid, caffeine causes your esophageal sphincter to relax, which results in the contents of your stomach being allowed to come up into your esophagus, causing the hydrochloric acid to burn the delicate lining.
Poor Mineral Absorption
Coffee affects the way your stomach and kidneys absorb certain nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. Because of this, heavy coffee drinkers will have a hard time getting these minerals into their blood stream even if they eat mineral rich foods or take supplements. It is estimated that 70% of people in the United States are magnesium deficient which causes issues like memory problems, muscle cramps and tremors, anxiety, behavioral issues, and irregular heartbeat to name a few.
5 Healthy Coffee Alternatives
Admittedly it’s delicious, and, as we mentioned, in moderation it can even offer health benefits. But, because of it’s addictive nature and because so many people add far too much sugar to their giant mugs of coffee, it’s a good great idea to drink something else instead.
Luckily, there are quite a few healthy beverage alternatives to choose from. Here are 5 to consider:
1. Kombucha Tea
Kombuchu is a type of yeast that, when fermented, makes a delicious and healthy tea. Benefits include aiding memory loss, preventing certain types of cancers, and helping with high blood pressure. Oh, and it’s delicious and fun to drink!
2. Yerba Mate
Yerba Mate is a great alternative because it offers the same morning “buzz” as coffee but does so without harmful effects or the dreaded and inevitable caffeine crash.
3. Probiotic Drinks
If you’ve spent any time reading this blog, you know we often talk about the importance of gut health. If you want your gut to be healthy, you need to feed it beneficial bacteria. Probiotic drinks, like kefir, are fizzy and delicious and also give your GI tract those “good” bacteria which help your immune system thrive.
4. Coconut Water
All hail the wondrous coconut! Coconut water is naturally sweet and delicious, contains bioactive enzymes, and is loaded with rehydrating electrolytes, making it a much healthier choice than many of the sugary sports drinks on the market.
5. Hot Apple Cider
If you’re one of those people that NEEDS a hot beverage to start your day, consider a cup or two of hot apple cider. Sweet and tangy, hot apple cider offers a lot of health benefits thanks to the fruit’s phytochemicals, which can help prevent and fight many diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.
So, if you’re truly looking to rev up your health and make healthier lifestyle choices, giving up coffee and replacing it with one or more of these alternatives would be a great start.
Psst, it may not be the caffeine…
While we like to blame coffee for our insomnia, the truth is, many of us suffer from sleep issues not from caffeine but from plain ol’ everyday stress. In order for our minds and bodies to be able to drift off to a restful slumber, they have to be able to relax. And we all know how hard it is to relax when we’re tense from worry and anxiety.
Well, if you quit coffee and find you are still having problems getting to sleep and staying asleep, you will want to try Sonic Wave Relaxation Therapy.
Deal with your stress in as little as 10 – 15 minutes a day, sleep peacefully, and lower your blood pressure at the same time!