The Good And Bad About Coffee

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world – it is also mega business. Coffee plants are cultivated in more than 70 countries. It is an important export commodity for Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Half the population in America drinks coffee on a daily basis. Starbucks, founded in 1971, is now the world’s biggest coffeehouse chain with over 20,000 stores in more than 60 countries. In the last five years (2009-2013) alone, Starbucks’ share price has risen more than seven-fold.

Given this widespread popularity, it is no surprise that many people have wondered if drinking coffee is an unhealthy habit. Caffeine, after all, is a stimulant drug and is addictive. For decades, medical advice from organizations like the American Heart Association has indicated that coffee may lead to high blood pressure and is bad for your heart. You may even have been told that coffee will give you an ulcer. However, in recent years, there has been an enormous amount of new research that has just pretty much exonerated coffee.

Is coffee good or bad for you? The following summarizes the latest findings on coffee and how it may actually benefits your health. Further, if you are a regular coffee drinker, there are certain things about coffee that you should also be aware of. Lastly, know that coffee may not be appropriate for everyone, if you have certain conditions, you should not be drinking coffee at all.

Latest Research On The Health Perks Of Coffee

Although not every single study shows coffee to have health-promoting properties, the majority is rather positive.

Apart from caffeine, coffee contains a natural blend of polyphenol antioxidants, bioflavonoids, B vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and chromium. Research shows that not only are the non-caffeine components of coffee anti-inflammatory, they work together synergistically to help neutralize the harsher effects of the caffeine. In addition, coffee may actually activate beneficial pathways in our bodies at the DNA level.

These studies show that moderate coffee consumption on a regular basis reverses cognitive impairment, cuts cancer risk, stabilizes blood sugar, and benefits the heart. In other words, coffee helps reduce the risk of many diseases:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer (including breast, colon, endometrial, kidney, liver, and oral)
  • Diabetes (type 2)
  • Heart disease (including heart rhythm problems and stroke)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Prostate cancer

Important Facts For Coffee Drinkers

Even though coffee may have all the amazing health benefits, not all coffee is the same. Besides, how and when you drink it makes a difference too.

Always choose organic. Coffee is a crop that is heavily sprayed with pesticides, therefore, you should select only coffee beans that are certified organic. Whenever possible, purchase sustainable “shade-grown” coffee to help prevent the continued destruction of the tropical rain forests and the birds that inhabit them.

Always buy whole bean. Only purchase whole beans that smell and taste fresh, not stale.

You do not want to buy pre-ground coffee because you never know whether it is already rancid by the time you get it.

Darker roast is superior to light roast. The darker roasts, such as French, Italian, or those used to make expresso and Turkish coffee, are higher in neuroprotective agents than the lighter roasts. Dark roast coffee restores blood levels of the antioxidants vitamin E and glutathione more effectively than light roast coffee. Dark roast coffee is also easier on your stomach as it contains a chemical that prevents your stomach from producing excess acid.

Best time to drink coffee is in the morning. According to some research, coffee may increase your metabolism by up to 20 percent. Therefore, having a cup of organic coffee or one shot of espresso in the morning is ideal. If you exercise in the morning, have your coffee before workout as studies show that coffee boosts athletic performance, not after as the caffeine may interfere with your body’s muscle-building mechanism. However, do not go overboard, one or two cups in the morning should be the maximum for the day.

Drink your coffee without sugar, artificial sweetener, or commercial creamers. Otherwise, you are undoing all the health benefits of coffee. Excess sugar intake increases the risk of insulin resistance, suppresses the immune system, and perpetuates addictive food behavior. If you like dairy and can tolerate it, you may add organic or preferably grass-fed whole milk or cream to your coffee. Skim or non-fat milk often has more sugar than whole milk, while commercial creamers tend to have unsavory ingredients.

Avoid flavored and novelty coffees. These products usually contain a myriad of chemical additives.

Use non-bleached filters. If you use a drip coffee maker, avoid using the bright white chlorine-bleached filters. Some of the chlorine may leach into the coffee during the brewing process. The bleached filters may also contain dangerous disinfection byproducts such as dioxin.

Avoid plastic cups. Be careful about the container you drink your coffee from. Plastic cups may leach BPA and Styrofoam cups may leach polystyrene molecules. Your best bets are glass, ceramic, or stainless steel coffee mugs.

When Coffee Is Not Right For you?

If you are pregnant, you should completely avoid using caffeine.

If you have an issue with decreased adrenal function or adrenal fatigue, caffeine can actually create more stress on your adrenal glands. In this day and age, many people are constantly stressed and fatigued, and rely on caffeine for sustained energy to get through the day. If this is the case, it is a tell-tale sign that your body is not functioning properly and you need to address the underlying problems.

Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc on your health. The adrenal glands affect every organ and system in the body – from metabolism of carbohydrate, protein, and fat, to fluid and electrolyte balance, cardiovascular system, immune system, hormonal system, and even your sex drive. Therefore, if you have adrenal fatigue, pumping your system with caffeine is merely going to aggravate your problem in the long run.

Coffee has a diuretic effect. If you have problems with electrolyte balance, you may want to avoid it too.

If you drink coffee and have problems falling asleep or tend to wake up in the night, you may be caffeine sensitive. Caffeine levels vary depending on the type of roast, grind, and brewing method. Darker roasts contain less caffeine than lighter roasts. The finer the grind, the higher the caffeine in the coffee. Drip coffee has more caffeine than espresso because the brew time is much longer. If you experience sleep issues from the caffeine, you may want to vary your type of roast, grind, or brewing method or cut down on the amount you drink every day and make sure you only have coffee early in the morning.

If you experience stomach cramping, heart palpitations, or other symptoms after drinking coffee, you may actually have a food intolerance. There is also the possibility of mold (coffee is a dried food and may contain mold) or other contaminants in the coffee that trigger a physical reaction.

What About Decaffeinated Coffee?

To date, there is yet conclusive evidence showing whether decaf coffee holds up to the benefits of caffeinated coffee. Limited studies were conducted using decaf coffee but the ones that do seem to be promising. However, since caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and can result in dependence and withdrawal symptoms, decaf coffee is probably the way to go if you like the taste of coffee.

When you buy decaf coffee, always choose organic and Swiss Water Process, which is a chemical-free method to extract caffeine. Beware that almost all decaf coffee found in coffeehouses and grocery stores is processed with the chemical solvent ethyl acetate. You want to avoid this type of decaf coffee as traces of chemical solvent still remain in the coffee.

Decaf coffee by law has to have at least 97 percent of the caffeine removed. For reference, a shot of espresso at Starbucks has 75 mg of caffeine, a short (8-oz) brewed coffee has 175 mg, a tall (12 oz) 260 mg, and a grande (16 oz) 330 mg. As you can see, if you have several cups a day, the caffeine can add up rather quickly.

In conclusion, coffee is loaded with antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that benefit your health. However, be cautious with the stimulant effect of caffeine as it can become extremely addictive. Caffeine is also a source of stress for your adrenal glands. Therefore, drinker be aware! If you like the taste of coffee, mixing regular with decaf may be a good way to gradually cut down on your dependence of caffeine.

Become a Commis Chef

When you have completed your training at a chef or culinary school you will have to face the work force and in the chefing industry in an industrial kitchen a group of chefs is known as a kitchen brigade. When you become a chef you should know that there is a lot of team work involved and you cannot become a top chef overnight.

A commis chef will be someone entering the industry either after their training or as an apprentice where they will learn on the job, being paid a little less as if someone were coming from chef’s school.

The duties of a commis chef would be just about anything that his or her head chef requires. They would be preparing vegetables and food for the day. A commis chef should know they are at the lowest point of the rank and should be able to put up with anything. Often it is not a very good environment to work in with orders from other chefs shouting at you, demanding you to run around the kitchen and do their dirty work, but this is where everyone started and you can’t shoot straight to the top.

The chef’s salary of a commis chef is not the greatest either, but as you progress like with any other job your head chef will assess your situation. When you enter the industry for the first time you should have a lot of passion and it should not be about the money in the beginning.

With a lot of perseverance you will eventually climb up the ladder to demi chef, the next level or maybe you will be promoted as junior chef de partie, which would involve specializing in one particular type of food, such as fish, meat or vegetables. You could even become a pastry chef if that is your goal.

Fibromyalgia Food & Nutrition

People who suffer from fibromyalgia are plagued by persistent pain and chronic fatigue. These symptoms can make it difficult to shop for, prepare, and eat wholesome and nutritious meals. Nevertheless, a healthy diet is very important in helping people with fibromyalgia counteract stress, detoxify the body, and restore nutrients to the areas that need them the most.

If your medical doctor has given you the diagnosis of having fibromyalgia, what you may not know is that all fibromyalgia patients also suffer from:

* Nutritional deficiencies
* Food sensitivities
* Blood sugar imbalances
* Infections: yeast, viral and bacterial
* Severe hormone imbalances

When you address all of these “X” factors at the same time and provide the body with the right balance of nutrition and nutrient-dense foods (as opposed to nutrient-deficient ones), you create an internal environment conducive to restoring the natural rhythm within and enable transformation and healing to occur.

What we take into our body-be it healthy food, drink, drugs, pesticides or junk food-can dramatically affect our ability to stay healthy. Because many fibromyalgia sufferers are sensitive to food, drugs, chemicals and pollutants in the environment already, it’s important not to subject yourself to them and to avoid as many as you possibly can. Researchers from the University of Florida concluded that food intolerance and certain added chemicals in foods led to significant exacerbation of symptoms in fibromyalgia patients including pain, swelling, and joint stiffness.

Your nutritional status determines, to a substantial extent, your capacity to maintain health, energy levels, and your ability to adapt to your environment. Your genes express themselves in your environment – the food you eat, water you drink, air, and so on. If your environment is too hostile for them (too many junk foods, contaminated air and water, etc) you cannot adapt and disease results. If your environment is nourishing, you have a greater resistance to disease and are more likely to experience health and vitality. Of equal importance is reduction or removal of the intake of toxic substances in the body such as anti-nutrients and environmental chemicals and pollutants, which have become a major problem in our “modern” diets.

We are all biochemically unique in our needs since they depend on a whole host of factors, from the strengths and weaknesses you were born with right up to the effects that your current environment has on you. No one way of eating or diet is perfect for everyone, and it is only through direct monitoring and control of your own nutrition that you will discover your own right balance. However, our goal in the pursuit of higher energy levels is to understand that our body is fueled from the foods we eat and to understand which foods supply us with the necessary and proper ingredients to create energy, healing, and optimum health. Here are some of the attributes of nutrition and food as it contributes to your health.

Whole Foods: Organic, Raw & Live Produce

The most important foundation for health is to eat foods that provide exactly the amount of energy and nutrients required to keep the body in perfect balance. A good deal of energy is consumed and wasted in trying to disarm or rid the body of toxic chemicals from our food sources. The toxins that cannot be eliminated accumulate in body tissue and contribute to conditions like FM. It is now virtually impossible to avoid all these substances completely, as there is nowhere on our planet that is not contaminated in some way from the by-products of our modern chemical age. Therefore, we must be diligent in choosing as wisely as we possibly can.

Choosing organic foods whenever possible is the nearest we can get to eating a pure diet today. The most healthful fruits and vegetables are those that have been grown organically-without the use of pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers, or growth-stimulating chemicals, which are potentially toxic to our bodies. Raw, organic food is the most natural and beneficial way to take food into the body. Raw (also called live) foods also contain enzymes and these help to digest food more completely, which increases absorption and assimilation of vital nutrients within the food. This leads to an increase in energy and vitality. Cooking food above 118 degrees F. destroys enzymes and reduces the uptake of nutrients. Try to eat at least 50% of your fresh produce in its raw state in salads and other tasty dishes. If raw produce does not agree with you because of weak digestion capabilities, steam your vegetables lightly in a steamer, cooking pan, or wok just until slightly tender.

For people suffering with fibromyalgia (and rheumatic disorders), studies have shown that a diet consisting of whole foods brings the body back to a state of health and helps improve symptoms dramatically. In addition to the fact that whole foods happen to be antioxidant laden, and antioxidant foods possess anti-inflammatory properties, there are other factors, such as fiber and essential fatty acids found in whole unadulterated foods that function together to increase immunity and improve overall health.

Remember, most fruits and vegetables are best eaten in their entirety, as all of the parts, including the skin, contain valuable nutrients. Eat at least eight to ten servings of colorful fruits and vegetables a day. That may sound like a lot but we are talking about one serving is half a cup full and this food source is vital in helping to win the battle against FM. These plant foods are the basic source of the vitamins, minerals; antioxidants and phytonutrients (more on what these are next) that help create and preserve health. Nobody can argue with eating fruits and vegetables. It is the one thing that scientists all agree on to create longevity, energy, and health.

It is a good idea for people suffering with fibromyalgia to limit their intake of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, because these substances can be very stressful and acid for the body.

Fibromyalgia Diet & Food: What to Eat

o Water: Water is a vital element for the overall health of the body. Drinking at least eight glasses of purified water each day helps to improve the circulation, and move nutrients and waste through the system. A plentiful intake of liquids is also important for flushing out toxins.
o Fiber: A high-fiber diet helps to move nutrients and waste through the system more efficiently. This reduces strain on the digestive system and can help promote regular bowel movements. Fresh vegetables, especially greens, are excellent sources of fiber. Fruits are loaded with antioxidants, minerals and nutrients and are a good substitute when needing a sweet treat.
o Protein: Add Lean protein, such as that found in fish, poultry, and fresh raw nuts and seeds into your diet.
o Fish: Fatty fish such as trout, cod, halibut, mackerel and salmon also contain oils that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. As with flax, these nutrients work as natural anti-inflammatory agents to alleviate the pain and swelling of fibromyalgia.
o Alfalfa: Alfalfa contains saponins, sterols, flavonoids, coumarins, alkaloids, vitamins, amino acids, minerals and trace elements. These nutrients help to control pain and alleviate stiffness.
o Flax seed: Flax seed and flax seed oil are great sources of the omega-3 essential fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. When consumed, this nutrient converts in the body to hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are natural anti-inflammatory agents that help to reduce the swelling and inflammation associated with fibromyalgia.

The Fibromyalgia Diet & Food: What Not To Eat

o Processed Foods: Foods that are highly processed, such as canned foods, foods that contain large amounts of saturated or hydrogenated fats, such as dairy products, meat, and margarine may be stressful for the body. Saturated fats, in particular, interfere with circulation, and may be responsible for increasing inflammation and pain.
o Caffeine, Alcohol, and Sugar: Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar as these substances can cause fatigue, increase muscle pain, and interfere with normal sleep patterns.
o Many fibromyalgia sufferers have food allergies and sensitivities especially to gluten. The best way to find out if you do too is to eliminate it completely for 1 to 3 months and notice how you feel and your health improves.

Preparing and Eating Meals

o Eat Small Meals: Fibromyalgia can make it difficult to shop for, prepare, and cook large nutritious meals. Try to eat four to five small meals daily rather than three larger ones, so that you will have a good supply of nutrients without the struggle of large meals.
o Take Breaks: Plan to take plenty of breaks while you are preparing and eating your meals. It will be easier and less stressful to put together a nutritious meal, if you start preparation about a half hour earlier, and allow two fifteen-minute breaks in the process.

Fibromyalgia Nutritional Supplements

Several nutritional supplements may be useful in alleviating the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Always discuss the benefits of nutritional supplements with your health care provider before adding a new supplement to your diet.
o Antioxidants: Antioxidants help to neutralize free-radical damage and reduce inflammation. Vitamins A, E, and C are good sources of antioxidants
o Evening Primrose Oil: Evening primrose oil is a good source of essential fatty acids. These nutrients act as a natural anti-inflammatory in the body, thereby reducing the pain of fibromyalgia.
o Vitamin B: If emotional or physical stress is a problem, taking extra B vitamins will help the nerves and improve energy.
o Royal Jelly: Bee products such as bee pollen or royal jelly supplements are a safe and effective way to fight the fatigue of fibromyalgia.
o Magnesium: magnesium contributes to more than 300 functions within the body including heart regulation and blood pressure. Magnesium is a natural relaxant and stool softener so it works to help you sleep well and helps with constipation.
o Calcium: A calcium supplement is great for strengthening the bones and improving muscle and nerve function. Calcium orotate is the best form.
o DHEA: DHEA has been used successfully in the treatment of other autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis and lupus. DHEA helps to restore balance to the immune system and helps to maintain the integrity of the nervous system.
o Grape Seed Extract: Grape seed extract is a powerful antioxidant. It also helps to support the functioning of the thymus gland.
o Co-enzyme Q10: this nutrient is another potent antioxidant that helps to deliver oxygen to cells.
o Lipoic Acid: This supplemental nutrient helps to enhance the metabolism of carbohydrates. It also helps to boost energy levels.
o Corvalen D-ribose: d-ribose helps to naturally overcome fatigue, reduce the pain and soreness of tired muscles, and helps your body make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the “energy currency” of the cell. It has been proven highly successful in helping people with fibromyalgia.

For fibromyalgia, there is no magic pill; the treatment is not a prescription medication or a drug. While some medications may offer short-term symptom relief, fibromyalgia does seem to be mostly associated in one way or another with poor diet and nutritional deficiencies. What is mostly needed is changing the way you live and living in harmony with your genes. It is not using foods and chemicals that are working against you genetically. It is a matter of eating foods and nutrients, which are nourishing and building and that help to build inner and outer balance.

By Deirdre Rawlings, ND, PhD, MH, CNC.

Deirdre Rawlings is a board certified naturopathic doctor, holistic nutritionist, master herbalist, and author of the book: Foods that Help Win the Battle against Fibromyalgia. Deirdre holds a PhD in holistic nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is a certified health and wellness coach. She lectures to corporations, colleges, and groups about the medicinal & healing powers of food and nutrition to help people to empower, energize and transform their lives.

Deirdre conducts monthly fibromyalgia group coaching programs called Eat to Beat Fibromyalgia where she educates people about underlying health conditions that often accompany fibromyalgia and how to address or heal those first plus provides proven strategies that help to restore balance and optimal health. She has worked with hundreds of fibromyalgia sufferers and helped them to reduce pain, eliminate their brain fog, dramatically increase their energy levels, and eliminate their dependence on prescription medications after using her protocols and system.