Can Coffee Save Lives?
OK, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but in all seriousness, coffee has a long list of health benefits, one of which is that studies show that drinking coffee, and not just one or two cups, but four or five has been associated with reduced death rates (1).
Regular coffee drinking is also associated with reduced rates of Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, gallstones, depression, suicide, cirrhosis, liver cancer, melanoma and prostate cancer (2).
And the Harvard School of Public Health offered, “For most people drinking coffee in moderation “can be part of a healthy lifestyle.” (3).
I’ve personally been a coffee fan as long as I can remember.
Even though the way in which I drank it as a younger version of me was quite different from the way in which I drink it now (mostly milk with some sugar and a splash of coffee back then… usually black or with MCT + butter now), it’s been a staple of most every day of my life for decades.
I wrote my senior thesis the I was studying exercise physiology on the effects of caffeine on free fatty acid mobilization; caffeine promotes lipolysis (the process by which fats are broken down), due to a greater release of adrenaline. Lipolysis then causes fatty acids to be produced as a result. These fatty acids are then released into the blood and transported to muscle to be used as energy (4).
(Add some MCT into the mix for a nice dose of caprylic acid and get a double bang for your buck in terms of mental acuity! (5)).
In terms of how to choose which coffee is best, there are a few things to consider:
Where did it come from? You’ll want to make sure it’s fair trade; coffee that is certified as having been produced to fair trade standards by fair trade organizations, which create trading partnerships that are based on dialogue, transparency and respect, with the goal of achieving greater equity in international trade (6).
Was it shade grown? This is important from an environmental standpoint; shade grown coffee requires little or no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. The shade trees filter carbon dioxide which causes global warming, and aid in soil moisture retention which minimizes erosion (7).
You’ll also want to be in the know about mycotoxins, naturally occurring toxins produced by certain moulds (fungi) and can be found in food and coffee. There’s a conversation about which brands are mycotoxin free, and evidence shows that mycotoxins are present in a large percentage of coffee beans and make it into the final drink, however their levels are far below the safety limit (8).
Last but by far not least, how does it taste? Coffee is unlike any other drink; it’s a ritual, a ceremony, even. My personal rule of thumb is similar to how I’d view a neat mezcal or glass of wine; if it needs to be doctored in order to be palatable, I’ll pass. Choose one that tastes good on its own or with whatever you choose to blend into the mix.
And for you mamas to be out there, fear not; the American Pregnancy Organization states you can safely have caffeine (up to 200 mg a day, or two cups of coffee per day) (9).
Be careful here, too; be sure to look for Swiss Water Decaf, a process in which coffee is decaffeinated using an environmentally friendly, chemical-free, 99.9% caffeine-free water process and all the while having great taste at the same time (10). Once again, better for the environment and better for you!
Is it a vice?
Maybe so, but considering all the other vices someone might choose, and all the health benefits that go along with it, it’s one I’m completely at peace with.