How Does Coffee Affect Your Health? {plus 6 Coffee Alternatives!}

how does coffee affect your health?

Guest Post by Leigh Ann Dutton at Intentional By Grace

I love coffee. It’s not so much the actual cup of coffee that I love as the experience of coffee.

I grew up sharing Saturday morning conversations with my grandmother over coffee. Coffee is cozy, comforting, and carries such wonderful memories for me.

A couple of years ago I began to experience extreme fatigue. I tried everything I knew to try.

I started taking more cod liver oil and increased my intake of B vitamins. I ate more iron rich foods and made sure to get regular exercise. It all helped, but by nine o’clock in the morning, I was still ready to go back to bed.

I was also battling infertility and each morning of fatigue was another reminder that I was tired for nothing – no baby filled my womb.

One day, I didn’t get around to drinking my morning coffee (gasp!). Surprisingly, by noon that day, I realized I had more energy than I had experienced in weeks. This forced me to consider if coffee was having a negative effect on my body.

The evidence against coffee is conflicting. Some say coffee can be good for you while others adamantly insist it’s devoid of any nutritional value.

I’m going to list some of the negative side effects of drinking coffee and some of the possible benefits to drinking coffee. Then, I will wrap up with explaining how I put all this information into action for my own health as well as some coffee alternatives.

Negative Side Effects of Coffee

Acts as a diuretic

If you struggle with electrolyte imbalance, or struggle to stay hydrated, coffee could be adding to this problem since it can have a diuretic effect.

Stimulates the adrenal glands

When coffee acts as a stimulant to our adrenal glands, it may give us a temporary boost in energy. When consumed in excess, it can drain the adrenals and lead to extreme fatigue.

Adrenals also affect our hormone levels, so in time, drinking coffee may contribute to hormone imbalance.

Can create addiction and dependence

We were made for rest. Therefore, while our bodies may be telling us to slow down, we pour ourselves another cup of joe, masking the symptoms of our fatigue.

Eventually, it catches up with us, and we find ourselves chronically exhausted and drained due to our addiction to the stimulating effects of coffee.

Raises the level of acidity in the blood

Many of our diets contain too many highly acidic foods. Too much acidity can result in acidic congestion in our bodies; thus leading to chronic illness and degenerative diseases.

Possible Health Benefits of Coffee

Loaded with antioxidants

Antioxidants are important nutrients. They help to slow down the excess oxidation process and protect your cells from free radicals, which are cancer causing agents.

In many western diets, coffee is the only antioxidant a person consumes.

Reduces the risks of contracting type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and is characterized by a build up of blood sugars due to insulin resistance or an inability to secrete insulin.

Studies have shown drinking coffee can reduce your risks of contracting this form of diabetes significantly.

May reduce the risks of age related diseases

Studies have shown that drinking coffee can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Less likely to contract various cancers

Studies following regular coffee drinkers have shown a notable reduction in various cancers like liver, colon, kidney, prostate and more.

Increases ability to concentrate

The caffeine found in coffee travels to the brain and blocks the inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine. This stimulating effect of coffee can improve brain function, increasing your ability to concentrate.

Boosts metabolism

Caffeine is a natural fat burning agent, and it can boost the metabolism. Consuming one cup of coffee before a workout can actually boost your physical function.

How I Handle the Pros and Cons of Drinking Coffee

Everyone reacts to coffee’s negative and positive effects differently. You have to study your body and determine what effects coffee has on you.

Believe it or not, coffee doesn’t effect everyone in the same way. Knowing the positive and negative effects of coffee will help guide you through making an informed decision.

When extreme fatigue hit me, there were several contributing factors, and one of those contributing factors was my overuse of coffee. My adrenals were shot, and I was addicted to the stimulating effects coffee offered.

After my accidental skipped cup of joe, I deduced that a detox from coffee was in order (plus a visit with my midwife, but that’s a story for another day).

6 coffee alternatives you should try

6 Coffee Alternatives

There are several coffee alternatives I have used to curb my overuse of coffee. Some alternatives I drink to make me think I’m drinking coffee and others I use to give me a burst of energy when I need it without resorting to coffee.

Dandy Blend

Derived from the nutritive dandelion, Dandy Blend is hands down my favorite coffee alternative. It tastes like a full-bodied coffee!

It is made of water-soluble extracts of roasted roots of dandelion, chicory and beets, and the grains of barley and rye. If you’re looking for something that tastes like coffee (or at least comes really close!), then Dandy Blend is worth checking out. It’s also a great way to get more dandelion into your diet!

Teecino

Teecino is another alternative that works as a coffee alternative. Like Dandy Blend, it’s brewed just like coffee. There are several different flavors, so it can take a little work to discover the flavor you like best. Teecino is probably the most popular coffee substitution.

Green Tea

Green tea has several amazing health benefits. Green tea is a powerful antioxidant that helps boost your immune system.

Besides just steeping green tea to drink hot, I love this Vanilla Green Tea Latte. It’s a great replacement for my fancy lattes. Also if I’m looking to pack a powerful antioxidant punch, I will add green tea to my morning smoothie. I love this Blueberry-Banana Green Tea Smoothie!

Rise and Shine Tea

When I stopped drinking coffee altogether in order to detox my body, I switched to Bulk Herb Store’s Rise and Shine Tea. Wow! It is so yummy, and it really helped me wake up in the morning.

It is a concoction of the following herbs: bilberry leaf, ginkgo leaf, green tea, peppermint leaf, cloves and ginger root. In order to help curb my coffee addiction, I try to replace one or two morning coffees a week with this tea.

Peppermint Tea

This is wonderful served hot with a little raw cream and honey. Peppermint tea also makes an incredible iced tea (my toddler loves iced peppermint tea!). Peppermint tea is not only great for digestion, but many recommend it for a coffee replacement because it’s a stimulant.

Fresh Juice

Juicing has many benefits, and it is one of my favorite ways to get a burst of energy during the day. Juicing allows me get a boost of vitamins and minerals which in turn boost my energy levels!

For me, I make sure to choose good coffee and limit my intake to one cup a day. This guards against coffee addiction and overloading my adrenal glands.

If I need an extra boost during the day (because let’s be honest: being a mom of a toddler and baby can be exhausting!), I choose a coffee alternative.  I work hard to ensure I’m listening to my body and resting when I need to instead of reaching for another cup of coffee to plow through the next task.

Like anything, coffee should not be consumed in excess. It’s all about moderation! Being aware of the pros and cons of coffee can help you make an informed decision for your own health.

What are your thoughts on coffee? How does coffee affect your health? What are your suggestions for coffee alternatives?

 

Sources and Additional Reading

Chemistry in Every Cup
Mounting Evidence Suggests Coffee May Actually Have Therapeutic Benefits
The Surprising Benefits of Drinking this ‘Unhealthy’ Beverage
Top 13 Evidenced-Based Health Benefits of Coffee
Tea vs. Coffee {for New Moms}

About Leigh Ann Dutton

Leigh Ann’s life goal is to create a home where it is impossible to not think about God. At Intentional By Grace, she blogs about her journey of intentional living in order to make this goal a reality. She is the wife to the man of her prayers, Mark, and mama to two loveable little boys, Samuel and Timothy. She takes joy in spending her days creating memorable moments with her husband, conducting kitchen experiments, researching every natural alternative known to man, and making her little boy laugh. She does it all by the grace of God.

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Comments

  1. In Israel we have date coffee/ roasted and ground date pits. There are even flavored options. Yum! (I still drink a cup or two of Joe daily).

  2. my husband just started drinking “Roma” which is also made from roasted grains. it looks like ovaltine in the jar! but he too, is surprised how much it tastes like coffee.

  3. As a naturopathic doctor, a good cup of coffee once in awhile won’t hurt, but daily consumption can have health risks especially if you are in the 50% of the population that are slow metabolizers of coffee.

    http://www.livingwhole.org/11-reasons-why-you-should-not-drink-coffee-everyday/

  4. I have blended green tea or rosella teinstead of coffee.

  5. FRESH coffee can stop an asthma attack; it contains both theobromine and theophylline, a class of chemicals that can be used as “drugs”. It is NOT caffeine that has the positive effect on asthma, as some web sites state. The fresher the coffee, the better, as these chemicals change properties fairly quickly. Also, the warm liquid helps relax inflamed bronchial tubes, stopping the reaction and freeing breathing. I have used this simple trick many times to help manage severe asthma.

    Not all coffees are equal. Get a good book on coffee and read it, and you will see what I mean. In general, however, go with dark, french, or slow roast – three marketing names for the same thing; the beans are roasted longer, which does two things: (1) brings up the oils, which brings out flavor; and (2) kills some of the caffeine. So dark, rich, or slow roast will generally have significantly less caffeine than regular roast.

    One of my personal favorites for pre-ground? Believe it or not – the “Great Value” dark roast from Wally-World. And I have tried all the expensive ones, from brand name to Hawaiian Blue Kona. I have all the contraptions for making coffee in various manners.

  6. I drink one coffee a day, at this point. Most days (I have a 2.5 month old and then a 3 year old who wake during the night lol). I get a buzz from it and then crash if I don’t eat properly. So I drink it slowly throughout the morning and the effects wear off at lunch and then I eat a good lunch. My husband isn’t affected by coffee but doesn’t like full teecino so he brews half coffee and half teecino and loves it. My personal rule is that I drink a cup of water (actually, the cup is about 12 oz) before I drink my coffee. And I go to bed at 9pm :)

  7. I couldn’t agree with you more! In college I was drinking 6 cans of diet Pepsi a day, and decided to give up all soda and caffeine. After I finally got over my two week headache, I swore that I would never go back to caffeine again. Over 10 years and 4 children later I have slightly modified my approach. Still no soda but, I drink green tea almost every morning. I allow myself two coffee days a week (it’s more of a mental treat than anything) but I have to drink it by 10:00. Otherwise I have noticed it makes me to jittery to lay down for my afternoon nap (a necessary for me). Thanks for offering me some more choices besides green tea. My fav green tea blend is TAZO zen, you should try it!

    • Leigh Ann Dutton says:

      It’s amazing what kids make you do. And it’s totally worth it! :) I love that you alllow yourself two “mental treats” a week. So good! I will check out your green tea of choice. Thanks!

  8. This is really good. I was forced to switch to decaf because my heart goes a little wonky when I have caffeine. I usually have 1-2 cups a day of decaf. I haven’t tried any of the coffee substitutes other than green tea and peppermint tea and they just don’t come close flavor wise. I just love the flavor of coffee!

    But yes on the adrenal stuff… that’s tough.

    • Leigh Ann Dutton says:

      No. No they don’t do it for the flavor of coffee. That’s for sure! But at least they are tasty. :)

  9. On the issue of dehydration, a study released a couple of days ago finds no such effect with up to four cups of coffee a day. See Moderate coffee consumption does not lead to dehydration http://bit.ly/1awIEU3

    • Leigh Ann Dutton says:

      I think it depends on how your body handles it. It varies for me how much effect it has my hydration levels. Thanks for sharing!

  10. D'Ann Martin says:

    I allow myself one cup of caf coffee first thing in the am, and then if I want more thoughout the day, I brew organic, fair-trade water-pressed decaf coffee. I just love the taste and warmth that comes from coffee. Doesn’t really matter to me if it’s caff or decaf:) I also like it with or without cream, so I usually let my scale determine which I choose for that day;)

    • Leigh Ann Dutton says:

      I like it! haha! I’m the same way with coffee. I take my coffee with raw milk cream and honey. Oh so heavenly!

  11. sbbrewerst says:

    My body doesn’t really process coffee well…. umm.. as embarrassing as it is to admit this, when I drink coffee my urine smells like coffee.

  12. I have stopped drinking coffee this past month, because we want to start our family this year, so I figured I might as well get a head start. Also, for some reason that I can’t explain, coffee just wasn’t tasting good to me anymore. Could there be a medical reason for that? Anyways, for that reason, it was pretty easy to quit. I just drink black tea now instead. Are those herbal alternatives safe for pregnant women or those wanting to become pregnant?

    • Leigh Ann Dutton says:

      Jane, I would personally drink all of these alternatives while pregnant. Pregnancy was the motivation I needed to stay disciplined. I was infertile for a year, but after making changes and visiting my midwife for some help, I was pregnant quickly. So unexpected! But anyway, I was already making the changes, and being pregnant helped keep me accountable. There’s no way for me to know about why you don’t like the taste of coffee. I think as our hormone levels change, detoxing, etc. your body can tell what you need. I would listen to my body (just like you did!).

  13. I am 24 days into my “1 coffee a day January”, I can’t honestly say I feel any less tired at the end of the day or sleep any better (which were the 2 things I expected), however I am astonished that my 8 year, 2 week/month hormonal breast pain has disappeared & I am no longer waking in the morning with aching bones, nor is the damp winter weather making my joints sore. I can’t believe something as simple as reducing my caffeine intake can have such an amazing effect on my body, I am drinking a variety of herbal teas to substitute & I can honestly say that going from 4-6 coffees every day to just 1 hasn’t been difficult at all.

    • Leigh Ann Dutton says:

      That’s great that you are seeing some helpful results. I was surprised too at how easy it was to decrease my coffee intake. The hardest part for me is getting over the “comfort” part of it. This is when herbal teas are so helpful!

  14. Wow! I hadn’t heard of some of those coffee alternatives. English Breakfast tea is my vice of choice. I might try some of those other options to break my addiction. Maybe I’ll find a new favorite!

  15. I too adore coffee! I drink 1 cup a day for its health benefits. I used to drink more than that, but lately I have been replacing that second cup with a cup of tea. There is just something about having a warm beverage in your hand! It really makes me happy!

    • Leigh Ann Dutton says:

      It’s true – warm beverage is the way to my heart. It’s just so comforting. Green tea has been my choice lately.

  16. Hmmmm, very interesting! I know that coffee affects people differently – my mom never drank coffee after 2 pm or she’d be up all night, while I have friends who can drink it whenever and it doesn’t affect their sleep pattern at all. I didn’t start drinking it till after I had kids, and it’s for that energy boost in the morning when I’m tired from a night of poor sleep. Recently I was up to three-six cups of coffee a day and I decided that was too much, so I’m trying to cut it back to one in the morning and then I drink tea. This is some great information and suggestions – thanks for sharing!

    • Leigh Ann Dutton says:

      It definitely affects everyone differently. I have a friend who can only do decaf coffee! It has TRACE amounts of caffeine and it’s still almost too much. It’s amazing how unique we all are. :)

  17. Do you know if this is just caffeinated coffee? Would decaf be included as well? I’ve completely cut out coffee for this pregnancy for teas and while I love tea, I also love a good cup of coffee and would drink some decaf just for the taste. What do you think?

    • Leigh Ann Dutton says:

      Decaf still carries trace amounts of caffeine in it. I haven’t totally researched decaf coffee, but I know you have to be careful about which ones you buy. There are different process for making your coffee decaf. These are things I would research – process of how my coffee is made into decaf, how much caffeine is left, etc. Unfortunately, I haven’t researched it so I can’t give you an answer. But maybe this will help you on a trail of research of your own. Google is my friend ;)

  18. I’ve never tried Dandy before either. I’ve heard of chicory root as a substitute for coffee, but never blended with dandelion and beet root. Sounds really interesting. Will check it out via your link for sure. Great article.

    • Leigh Ann Dutton says:

      Thanks, Nathalie! I love Dandy Blend. I was so surprised how it “tricked” me into thinking I was drinking coffee. I wouldn’t drink a cup of coffee and immediately follow it with Dandy Blend. That will not make you think you’re drinking coffee. ha! But Dandy in the afternoon is great!

  19. I started “The Daniel Plan” on Jan. 6, and the first 10 days are a detox from caffeine, sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol, artificial sweeteners and processed food-like substances and chemicals. The first couple days I had caffeine and sugar withdrawal headaches, but I’ve been starting most mornings with a smoothie with greens, cukes, berries, green apple, orange, lemon and flax to bombard my system with nutrients. I haven’t had cravings and my morning IBS is gone (it seems starting the day with coffee and cream was the culprit, though I have reintroduced real coffee in the late morning or mid-afternoon on a few days, once I have other food in my stomach). I feel amazing and I’ve lost 17.8 lbs and more than 4 inches of belly fat in 18 days!

  20. I know this isn’t exactly just with coffee, but isn’t one of the effects of caffeine also that it saps calcium from your bones and prevents the absorption of calcium at the same time?

    • Leigh Ann Dutton says:

      Yes, R.G. It strips minerals like calcium! I think this one of the ways I’m sensitive and have to be careful not to overload on coffee. Great point!

  21. Hi, just wanted to add something about the diuretic effects of coffee. If you are familiar with the work of Dr. Batmanghelidj on dehydration (watercure.com), even mild dehydration can have some pretty serious negative effects on the body… – you might be surprised.

  22. I had never heard about Dandy blend, but this really peaked my interest – I just ordered a bag to try it out. Thanks! :)

    • Leigh Ann Dutton says:

      I would love to hear what you think. My only recommendation is not to drink it directly after a cup of coffee. Good to wait a little bit and let your pallet settle. ;) I do love it! Hope you do too!

  23. I used to drink coffee but it always made me feel yucky. But I LOVE The smell of it. SO MUCH. In fact it is my favorite smell in the world I think!

    Thankfully my husband drinks coffee every day so I still get to smell it.

    I have adrenal fatigue and am working on getting that under control. I am not affected by caffeine as much as I am by theobromine. There was a time period when consuming chocolate (raw cacao, I do not eat processed food or sugars, so I use raw honey and coconut oil or butter to make my chocolates) made me very ill. Heart palpitations, blood pressure drops, dizzy, fainting. It was horrible. Now I can consume moderate amounts of chocolate and can make hot cocoa (a healthy way).

    I live in Panama now (and walk barefoot on the beach at least 5 times a week — this “earthing” thing really works but it took a while for it to start showing signs of working). I tried to find a link to the beach I live a block from, but here is a link of land right on the beach near me… Malibu Beach: http://trypanama.com/listings/stellar-lot-for-sale-near-playa-malibu-gorgona/

    Anyway, that also has helped me with my adrenal fatigue… I am able to sleep more (my problem was my cortisol levels rose at night when they were supposed to decrease… how can you sleep with excessively high cortisol levels?)

    I do drink green tea, (Jasmine green tea from Numi Organics is my favorite brand of all time). I just don’t drink hot beverages as often, being in the tropical climate. (That is where I am going with this, haha!) I do crave homemade soup and homemade hot cocoa but I am always too hot.

    Before you butcher me by telling me how cold it is in the states and how lucky I am to be in a warm climate, lol, I am back in the states on a business trip right now and have been in Minnesota (the twin cities and northern Minnesota) so I am getting a fairly large dose of reality with temps in the -20s…

    I have also drank Pero, which is a coffee substitute. I haven’t seen it in the stores for years but it is on Amazon.com. It tastes awesome. I use Pero, carob powder, raw cream, a touch of cinnamon, and hot water to make the most amazing beverage ever…. :)

    • Leigh Ann Dutton says:

      I’ve never heard of Pero. Will have to look that one up! Thanks for sharing! And yes…jealous of your location. I’m surrounded by mounds and mounds and mounds of snow right now. ;)

Trackbacks

  1. […] That is a tough question, and I am not going to answer that here.  I will refer you to another blog post as this is a whole article all by itself. This helpful article talks about the pros  and cons of coffee which can help you sort through that questions you may have. How Does Coffee Affect Your Health?  […]

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