The Scoop on Coffee
By Laura Cipullo and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team
We’ve heard it before: “Coffee boosts your metabolism. Too much coffee causes dehydration.” But, do these sayings hold any truth? Does drinking a cup or two of java each morning really affect your metabolism? And what about your hydration? Research has linked coffee to numerous health benefits, including aiding in degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease, boosting our mood, and the list goes on. We took to the books to find the scoop on coffee. Here is what we found.
Q: What’s the deal with caffeine?
A: Coffee stimulates our feel good hormones in the brain!! Makes you feel good (in moderation, of course).
According to a Harvard Health Letter published in Harvard Medical School’s Health Publications, caffeine is absorbed in the stomach and small intestine. It is then circulated throughout the body, including the brain. The caffeine circulation reaches its highest point roughly 30-45 minutes following ingestion. Once absorbed, caffeine affects the dopamine activity in the brain. Dopamine is a brain chemical that involves thinking and pleasure. Think about it that first cup of coffee in the morning – part of that morning rush is associated with caffeine stimulating our dopamine receptors just like sugar and even drugs.
Q: Can coffee be beneficial to brain function?
A: Caffeine is linked to better memory!
A study published in 2012 tested the effect of caffeine on older adults with “mild cognitive impairment, or the first glimmer of serious forgetfulness, a common precursor of Alzheimer’s disease”2. The study found that those older adults with little caffeine in their bloodstreams were far more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who had a few cups of coffee per day2.
Q: Is filtered coffee healthier than unfiltered coffee?
A: Choose filtered coffee more often.
If you’re drinking unfiltered coffee on a daily basis, you may want to consider switching to filtered. Coffee naturally contains a substance known as cafestol, which has been shown to stimulate LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. However, when brewed with a paper filter, the cafestol doesn’t transfer to the coffee. While drinking unfiltered coffee on occasion isn’t terrible for you, if you are someone with high cholesterol, filtered coffee would make the better choice.
Q: Can too much coffee be dehydrating?
A: Caffeine stimulates your bladder, while alcohol actually dehydrates.
A recent study published by University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom tested coffee’s effect on the fluid balance of habitual male coffee drinkers and found no significant loss of fluid balance in men that drank a maximum of 4 cups of coffee per day1.
Q: Does coffee consumption impact blood pressure?
A: Coffee can up our pump; think twice if you have already high blood pressure.
It can. According to a study performed by Harvard University, continued caffeine consumption (via coffee) can lead to a slight increase in blood pressure. While coffee hasn’t been directly associated with an increased risk of hypertension, it is typically recommended that those with hypertension, specifically those who are finding it difficult to control, should switch to a decaffeinated coffee.
Q: Can coffee really boost our metabolism?
A: Coffee boosts our central nervous system, but it usually takes more than 1 cup.
A study published in the Journal of Physiology and Behavior, the metabolic rate of regular coffee drinkers was found to be about 16% higher than decaf coffee drinkers. The reasoning? Caffeine is known to stimulate the body’s central nervous system, which can increase both breathing and heart rate.
Q: So, what’s the takeaway?
A: We will see you at Starbucks!
As the research we’ve highlighted shows, coffee drinking can benefit our brain health, boost our metabolism, and even help improve our mood. However, too much of a good thing can be harmful – drinking too much coffee can increase our blood pressure and drinking more than 4 cups per day can negatively affect our fluid balance. Though, like most things, coffee can be a part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. A cup or two of coffee per day could be beneficial to our health, but it is encouraged to limit coffee drinking to a maximum of 4 cups per day to avoid any negative side effects.
Laura recently traveled to Peru and came across a great coffee brand known for both their sustainability and commitment to the environment, Puro Coffee. Puro Coffee is sourced from Fairtrade co-operatives made up of hundreds of farmers together to grow the coffee naturally. They even use solar panels and recycle the heat from the coffee roasting process to power their factory!
For more information on Puro Coffee and their sustainable processes, please take a look at the following links:
- Killer, Sophie C., Andrew K. Blannin, and Asker E. Jeukendrup. “No Evidence of Dehydration with Moderate Daily Coffee Intake: A Counterbalanced Cross-Over Study in a Free-Living Population.” PloS one 9.1 (2014): e84154.
- Santos, Roseane M.M., Tracy Hunter, Nick Wright, Darcy R.A. Lima. “Caffeine and Chlorogenic Acids in Coffee and Effects on Selected Neurodegenerative Diseases.” J Pharm Sci Innov. 2013; 2(4): 9-17.