As we are in the middle of this busy holiday season, let’s take a moment to look at coffee and our relationship with it.
There is always much debate about the pros and cons of coffee. Is it good for you because it’s high in antioxidants and will boost energy levels? Or do you need to get this addictive beverage out of your system to improve your health once and for all?
If you’ve been getting through the holidays by increasing your coffee intake, today’s article is for you. We’ll cover the health benefits of coffee, its downsides, and alternatives.
Spoiler: there isn’t a one-size fits all approach to coffee. We all have different bodies and metabolize coffee differently. The key is to find what works for you!
Getting Through the Busy Holiday Season
Anytime you are burning the candle at both ends, not sleeping well, or are low in energy, it’s easy to turn to coffee for that boost. The holiday season is no exception.
Pros and Cons of Coffee
Let’s look at some of coffee’s positives, along with potential downsides to coffee consumption.
Every so often, a study links coffee consumption to better health outcomes. Here are some potential benefits:
High in Antioxidants
There are many nutrients in coffee, specifically hundreds of phytonutrients (plant nutrients), many of which have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect the cells and tissues of the body from free radicals and toxins.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, herbs, spices, and other whole plant foods are rich in antioxidants. Coffee tends to be a primary source of antioxidants in the American diet.
Coffee has neuroprotective properties, likely due to the high antioxidant content. Several studies have demonstrated that coffee may protect against neurodegenerative diseases, including cognitive decline and dementia.
Improve Alertness and Focus
Because of its caffeine content, it’s no secret that coffee can improve alertness and focus. Caffeine is a stimulant: it wakes you up in the morning, helps you focus when you need to be productive, and enables you to push through when you are tired.
Despite some of the upsides, coffee may work against your health goals, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine.
How much caffeine is in coffee? The level of caffeine in coffee is variable, typically about 100 to 200mg per cup. Decaffeinated coffee is lower in caffeine but still contains some.
Caffeine Disrupts Sleep
Some people metabolize caffeine quickly. They can have a cup in the afternoon or even before bed, and it doesn’t disrupt their sleep. However, others metabolize caffeine more slowly. For them, even a morning cup disrupt sleep later that night.
How long does caffeine stay in your system? It depends on the person. Genetic testing is available to help you learn more, but you can also tune into if and how caffeine disrupts sleep for you.
Caffeine is Addictive
Caffeine is addictive for some people. If you need coffee every day in a way where you can’t function without it or if you experience headaches and other symptoms of caffeine withdrawal if you don’t have it, you may be addicted.
Caffeine and Anxiety
If you experience anxiety, you may consider exploring the relationship between coffee and anxiety. Taking a break from coffee may help ease anxious feelings and help you get clear about how caffeine affects your nervous system.
Healthy Alternatives to Coffee
If coffee is your thing, choose organic, fair-trade beans and keep consumption moderate. If you don’t do well with caffeine, are ready for a coffee break, or are interested in trying alternatives, here are some ideas.
- Coffee in food – Our Java Peanut Butter Protein Balls contain organic coffee for the flavor you love in a healthy snack that keeps you full without the blood sugar crash that coffee can cause.
- Yerba Mate – Yerba mate is a South American tea. It contains caffeine, and some find that mate produces less stimulation than coffee.
- Matcha – Matcha is a popular powdered form of green tea that you add to hot water or milk. Matcha contains caffeine but also l-theanine, which is calming and may offset some of the overstimulation of caffeine.
- Rooibos Tea - Rooibos tea is a red tea that is completely caffeine free. Rooibos and other herbal teas are healthy alternatives to coffee that still provide antioxidants.
- Mushroom coffee – Many herbal “coffee” blends on the market today contain medicinal mushrooms, dandelion, and adaptogenic herbs. They can be brewed like coffee and have a robust flavor.
Whether you’ll never give up your daily coffee or you prefer coffee alternatives, understanding the pros and cons will help you navigate the busy holiday season while keeping your health in mind.