I don’t drink coffee, but I have at least one person a week ask me about drinking coffee when trying to start paleo. Now I know if I say cut out coffee from your daily life, I will get many people screaming at me and to be honest, I can’t really relate. I was privileged with a natural caffeinated-like state, even at 5am, so I don’t need it but here is for those of you who do.
Most people “think” they need coffee. This is mostly because of lack of sleep and chronic stress, creating an unhealthy balance of energy and addiction to coffee. There are mixed studies regarding the benefits of coffee consumption. I read a great article on coffee and the author stated “if you feel that you need coffee to start the day, you’ve become dependent on it and should cut it out, at least until you no longer depend on its stimulating effect.” Pretty interesting, huh? The following pros and cons are from the Paleo Diet Lifestyle website.
Pros of coffee consumption
- To many people, coffee is absolutely delicious and a great way to stay on tract with a paleo diet without indulging in other unhealthy choices.
- It improves cognitive performance, reaction time and short term recall.
- Coffee stimulates peristalsis and can help those who suffer from constipation.
- According to the latest studies on the subject, moderate coffee consumption seems to be protective against cardiovascular disease.
- Coffee contains beneficial antioxidants, methylpyridinium being the most well known one.
- Coffee seems to offer protection to the liver and has been found to reduce the incidence of liver cancer.
Cons of coffee consumption
- Caffeine can trigger the release of unhealthy levels of cortisol in some people. Chronically elevated cortisol levels is bad news for a multitude of reasons. Think weight-gain, disturbed sleep patterns, depressed immune system…
- Coffee hinders iron absorption because of its tannin content. It can therefore further exacerbate iron deficiency.
- Regular coffee consumption seems to decrease insulin sensitivity, which can translate to weight gain and increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Studies have mixed results about the insulin desensitizing effects of coffee, but the most coherent ones make it clear that the effect is negative.
- Many people believe that coffee is a diuretic, which means that it makes you lose free water and can therefore lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Studies have shown though that, in the long term, coffee doesn’t have a diuretic effect after you’ve become used to it. Drinking coffee only very sporadically could still bring about the diuretic effects since the body would lose its habituation to the effect.
- Coffee irritates the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract and can exacerbate those with ulcers, IBS, gastritis or other such gastrointestinal disorders
So after reading the pros and cons, I will let you make the ultimate decision on whether you can consume this regularly. My recommendations follow the author of this article and sporadic coffee consumption is okay, maybe on a night with less sleep than usually. Just don’t become dependent on it as you will mess up your cortisol levels and sleep cycles, leading you to be more prone to gaining weight in the long run.