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Some foods and drinks have been causing confusion lately about how healthy they are, and one of them is coffee. Here are some thinks people are reading or hearing about coffee.

Various studies have touted coffee as being beneficial against Type 2 diabetes, liver disease, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. These are usually scientific studies known as retrospective studies because they examine the health of people who have consumed varying amounts of coffee and then determined if they had more or less of a given disease.

Sometimes scientists think it is because coffee has antioxidants in it or some other beneficial ingredient. The exact cause and effect relationship is not usually known. Here are some things we do know about coffee.

  1. Non-organic coffee is full of pesticides.
  2. Coffee is acidic, and an acidic pH level encourages illnesses such as cancer.
  3. Coffee can inhibit the natural production of hydrochloric acid, which can impede the digestion of protein and potentially lead to illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
  4. Caffeine and acid in coffee can irritate the stomach and the lining of the small intestines. This can cause ulcers, gastritis, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
  5. Coffee can also relax the lower esophageal sphincter leading to acid reflux.
  6. Coffee can cause an increase in the passage of food before it is properly digested, which decreases nutrient absorption and increases intestinal inflammation.
  7. Coffee impedes the ability of the kidneys to retain calcium, zinc, magnesium, and other minerals. Magnesium is crucial to healthy bowel movements, brain function, and energy.
  8. The roasting of coffee beans produces acrylamide, which is one of the most serious cancer-causing substances in our diet.
  9. Coffee is addictive and produces excess cortisol, which is the bodies stress hormone. This can contribute to the development of high blood pressure and health disease. It can also cause a lower production of neurotransmitters, which can contribute to fluctuations in mood. Coffee overstimulates the nervous system leading to addictive tendencies and then withdrawal symptoms when the coffee is not available.
  10. Caffeine causes dehydration, which is harmful to the brain, liver, kidneys and other systems and organs. It also leads to premature aging of the skin.

As with many foods and drinks, coffee may have some good points, but it also has far too many bad points to be classified as a health drink. The less coffee you drink the better. In fact, one of the only real health benefits for coffee is drinking one cup in the morning in order to get the digestive system working. This one cup of Joe can help to keep some people “regular” and at the same time lower the risk of becoming addicted. There is also good evidence to support the use of organic coffee as the way to avoid the pesticides and other chemicals found in non-organic brews.

If you need a hot drink consider trying a decaffeinated tea of some kind such as white, black or green tea because you can get even more nutrients than coffee without the negative side effects mentioned earlier. And finally, coffee is usually served with sugar and cream, two more things that you do not need. Instead, try a little honey in your tea and you will have created a truly healthy drink instead of a potentially unhealthy one.

Charles K Bens, PhD

Charles K. Bens, PhD is an author, speaker and wellness consultant specializing in the prevention and reversal of chronic disease. He is the founder and president of Healthy @ Work, Inc. a wellness education and consulting company focused on improving the health of employees. The company provides workshops on a wide range of health topics. He has written nine books including Healthy at Work: Your Pocket Guide to Good Health, The Healthy Smoker: How To Quit Smoking By Becoming Healthier First and over 200 articles. Dr. Bens lectures all over the world on organizational change and improvement as well as on wellness and health improvement. And was selected by Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation as the Vail Visiting Professor for 2013.