So I was wondering whether there’s pitfalls of drinking coffee. Is it good or bad for us? Please let it be good. I think I’m coming bearing bad news. Oh no, not coffee!
We get tired of getting these conflicting messages all the time. So what I wanted to do is to focus on the pure health effect of coffee.
Not just pitfalls of drinking coffee
Yes, are there a lot of health effects of coffee? There are. That we can just focus on? There are, but let’s say that with coffee in general, we won’t focus on how it’s processed, its origin, its quality, et cetera. We’re only going to consider coffee and its relation to health and health effects.
Right. So as we know coffee is hugely popular. I drink coffee, yet I see many contradictory statements in the media, and studies. Sometimes we are told that it’s a bad intoxicant that leads to addiction.
Sometimes they tell you that it has huge benefits, especially cognitively. It’s like in the morning you are told that if you drink three coffee a day, then your memory will improve. Is that true or is this just backed by the coffee industry? We wil get there.
I just want to point out that you read something like this, then maybe in the same newspaper in the evening, you read that you must be very careful with coffee because it contributes to dementia and there are many facts supporting this.
For example, there’s a Swedish study that shows that coffee in general, will also shrink the breast size of women okay. While protecting against cancer. So it shrinks your breast, but it also protects you from cancer? A fun fact, right? Yeah. Are these reliable facts? That’s the point. If we want to address these contradicting scientific studies, we mainly have two major problems with these studies.
How do they study coffee?
They are all the confounding factors, meaning that you’re observing people through questionnaires with questions like: Are you a coffee drinker? How much coffee do you drink every day? How do you drink it, etc?
This can be misleading because not everybody remembers how much coffee they had that day. That’s true. But what I call confounding factors is that you cannot isolate even through a truthful questionnaire. Yes, people are drinking coffee, but what are they eating or drinking other than coffee?
Any effect you could identify could be reacting with whatever they’re having. Why do they ascribe it to coffee? Okay, one question before you get into the rest of your findings, and that is bottom line, what’s better for your health, coffee or tea for your?
Or is one better than the other or are they both the same? Well, there are a lot of compounds in coffee, but they said the main molecule that is studied is caffeine. And there’s twice as much caffeine in tea than in coffee.
Okay. So let’s maybe address a little bit later what caffeine does in our body. But by the ratio, perhaps coffee is better. But let’s hear what you have and we will address what is caffeine. Exactly. Right, okay.
Caffeine isn’t the only thing that makes up the coffee
Coming back to the studies, the confounding factors, and the more than 800 molecules in coffee in particular that have been identified. So which one do you really get affected by? Do you assign all the blame to caffeine itself?
It’s very hard to say, and not all of those 800 molecules are necessarily bad for us. Some could be nutritious or not. These are very diverse molecules and we don’t exactly know, and everything depends on the dosage.
As for caffeine, it’s a very large chemical molecule that is synthesized by the plants in order to protect itself from insects and predators. Caffeine is an insecticide that the plant is producing. Interesting, because my mother, whenever I go to Pakistan, I’m originally Pakistani, for the sake of those listening; she would put coffee on the table to ward off all the insects. And it works!
And sometimes what she would do is she would light up the coffee with a match. Then the smoke that comes out of the coffee worked like magic on insects every time. And it smelled so good. Yes it’s a great hack. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the fumes? No, because even if you didn’t light up the coffee, and if you just put the coffee powder by itself, she wouldn’t use her expensive coffee, of course! But it worked. It would ward off the insects!
So yeah, there you go. Anyway, basically you can say objectively that caffeine is a poison that can potentially be deadly to insects. It’s a fact. Right? Yeah. And there is also a precursor to caffeine. When the plant produces caffeine, one of the intermediary molecules is called theobromine. And theobromine is shown to be deadly to dogs, for example. This is why chocolate is so contraindicated to a mammal, such as a dog.
The effects on our body
So it’s an insecticide that is produced by the coffee plant as a form of self protection. Right. This is really what caffeine is. Now, if you look at all the effects of caffeine that have been studied, we know that it increases the heart rate and it slightly increases the blood pressure. Slightly, yeah, it increases the cardiac output, and it increases the amount of urine you execrate.
Okay, so these are objective effects. I’ve heard caffeine has a dehydrating effect on us. I’ve heard that many times before. So, what you’re saying makes sense. It makes sense that if the body has to get rid of a pesticide that is in the blood, then it would take out water with it. This is the function of our kidneys.
Reports have also identified effects on the brain that we call stimulation. In fact, it doesn’t work as a stimulant. It works as a chemical structure that is very similar to a molecule that is called adenosine. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that is produced in the brain. Adenosine is produced by the body and your brain that releases signals to tell you that you are overstimulated.
So this slows your activity. It makes you tired. This signal is very important because if you overdo your activity, you can go into burnout and tax your resources. A point will come, when you feel tired, and this adenosine continues to give you important signals.
What often happens is that caffeine can actually take the place of adenosine in many transmitters. So the body doesn’t get the signal that it is time to rest. So you keep getting over stimulated, and your brain is releasing adenosine. But the message is not registered by the body because the caffeine has taken its place in the receptors.
Uncovering the issues of drinking coffee
Caffeine will overshadow Adenosine. And is that necessarily a bad thing? I’m not trying to justify the existence of coffee, but it would be nice to understand how bad it is that caffeine plays that role of adenosine. Does it mean that it diminishes our natural adenosine in our system?
No, you still produce adenosine. This is a neurotransmitter. It needs to be heard by the body. And the way the body works is that the neurotransmitter called adenosine is produced to do its job. It is supposed to go into these places, these doors, to enter the neurons, for example. But if the door is already occupied by caffeine. Which is what drinking coffee will do. Then it’s a problem.
The signal that you are tired and overstimulated is very important. Because if you kill this signal, you can go too far. It’s like when people are on drugs, they can just be active all night and overdo it and overdo it. And then it can be very dangerous because this signal of being tired means that the body needs to replenish certain functions. This particular downside to drinking coffee is very important to understand.
We also have identified other health issues linked to coffee in general, heartburn and reflux, etc. But these can be related to the dairy or cereal or sugar consumption alongside the coffee. Because such things are consumed in large amounts nowadays, especially because sugar and honey are added to the coffee by many.
In all, heartburns and acid reflux, it’s due to a stomach that is not acid enough. Which is terrible because modern medicine is treating acid reflux with proton inhibitors that lower the acidity of the stomach. But, it makes the reflux continue to happen, just not as acid. So it’s only less painful.
Yet it’s still happening, but you don’t feel it, which is probably worse because you must know that something’s still going on. It’s once again not addressing the cause. So when people are suffering with acid reflux, if they go on an animal based only diet, it stops because the acidity of the stomach then is restored to its normal level.
Coffee and your gut
Then the little door we have between our trachea and the stomach is closed. And it’s the level of acidity in the stomach that determines whether this door is closed or not. When the acid in the stomach is not high enough or low enough, then this door remains a bit open, and you can have this reflux phenomenon.
So the cure to acid reflux and heartburn is found in eliminating plants, in fact. Right. So now we can discuss the factors that basically determine whether consumption of coffee is healthy or not. Right. You have a clinic in Paleo Medicine in Hungary that has been measuring an effect that makes total sense. It’s the effect on consuming coffee and the gut.
Because since caffeine is an insecticide, we need to understand the effect and how this insecticide works on insects as well as humans. Right. Well on insects, the way it does it is that when the insect ingests the plant, the caffeine has an effect on their digestive system. So the hypothesis that it would do the same thing to us is sound. And they have proven it.
They have taken people who practice the paleo ketogenic diet, which is animal based with very minimal plants or no plants ideally, to cure autoimmune problems. And they measured the leakage of the gut, meaning that your gut has a lining of cells that filters what is inside the digestive system and goes into your blood.
These cells are very tightly joined and release only through the molecules, proteins, et cetera, that you eat in animal based foods, they are digested, but don’t allow things to go through that shouldn’t go through.
So when certain chemicals are attacking these cell walls, then you have molecules that are bigger and can go through. And these molecules are not supposed to be in your blood or travel through your body. So they create inflammation everywhere because it’s not recognized as sound by the body. Hence you get a leaky gut.
It’s the leaky gut. When they measured the size of the molecules that can go through your digestive barrier. They saw there is a huge difference between someone who drinks coffee compared to someone who doesn’t drink coffee. The molecules that are able to go through can be twice as big as for the one who drinks coffee vs the one who doesn’t.
So you have basically less filtration in your gut when you’re drinking coffee. You’re compromising the natural filters. These filters process things so that we don’t get any conditions like leaky gut. Yes, and especially important when you are suffering of an autoimmune disease or any inflammation. So then, for sure, coffee, tea, any caffeine, is absolutely a no, no.
You have to admire the genius of the plant that has the ability to get the caffeine in particular to enter the body of the insect. We have also determined that there is a lethal dose of coffee. Oh, really? It’s called LD 50. Lethal dose 50. It’s the dose of caffeine that you need to drink to kill 50% of the people.
However it is set at a large amount for humans. It’s one cup of coffee per day and per kilogram of body weight. So if you weighed 50 kilos, you would have to drink 50 cups of coffee a day to die? To die, yeah. That would kill 50% of the people. Right. So, of course, that concentration of caffeine in our body is very rare.
So we could drink the amount of coffee that can kill insects and small predators. For us, it’s less easy to kill us because the quantity must be much higher since we are bigger animals. Right. But still the effect is objectively there.
And I would add that pregnant women are really advised not to drink coffee. And this is for the same reason that the biological membrane between the mother and the fetus is also being leaky. So there’s less control of what separates the intestines and naval cavity from the blood, hence the baby can be harmed.
What a shame that coffee can have such an effect. Do you think that if we limit our coffee, let’s say one cup every two days, or let’s just be really reasonable and say one cup every maybe three days, do you think then it has a negligible effect on us?
I think in general, yes. But my conclusion is that coffee in itself is not healthy. It modifies the functioning of the biological membranes. It triggers inflammation, allergies autoimmune processes, and it all depends on your level of health. Right. So it’s up to us to determine the quantity. But in general, maybe we should consume coffee in small amounts or none at all in order to avoid the unpleasant effects.
Coffee is addictive
Do coffee addicts know the pitfalls of drinking coffee
And now it’s a matter of intelligence. Each of us has to determine the level of coffee consumption because it works exactly like alcohol or tobacco. It causes physical and mental addiction too, because this is something we view in the same way as alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. Right. So why not put this in that category and just be willing to stay away from it?
Yes. Which could be hard for a lot of real coffee drinkers. I mean, I’m not an avid coffee drinker, so I can live without it and it’s no big deal for me. I used to think I was a huge tea drinker, but then since I met you and learned the terrible dangers of drinking tea, I was able to give it up so easily and so many other plants and plant based foods that have a dangerous effect on our bodies. So for me, coffee is not a big deal to give up. Yes.
But many people have to deal with another dimension, which is the addiction that coffee is producing. And it does have an addictive nature. It causes physical and mental addiction. It can be overcome, but it still causes weeks of discomfort and it can put someone’s perseverance to a very difficult test.
So addiction to caffeine in particular, it used to be included in the International Classification of Diseases until 2010. Really? Yeah. When you drink coffee, the number of your adenosine receptors, the receptors that slow down your body, because now caffeine is taking up that space. And so the inhibition is decreasing, but the body is still intelligent.
It will create more receptors for adenosine to counterbalance this effect of caffeine. So you have at one point, this feeling that the coffee is losing its effect on you. That’s because there’s more receptors for adenosine being built up. That’s why you feel you need more coffee if you want to counterbalance the tiredness. It’s a terrible cycle.
Yeah, you need more coffee. But when you stop coffee for one week, two weeks, you have a lot of adenosine receptors, meaning that the signal of slow down is exaggerated by the body. Hence why you feel very tired. Feeling slow and not alert, so you feel you need your coffee in order to pick yourself up again.
It’s just a matter of pushing through. Right. And you can also get migraine type headaches because the blood vessels are constricting. So it is said that addicted people are weak, but physiologically it’s very easy to overcome. It will take a week. But this mental addiction will pass, if you allow yourself to stay tired and bear it until you push through.
And I think some people just love the taste also that aroma, it’s kind of like the same type of love for chocolate, I guess. Once you develop that taste for it, yes. You get addicted because you really like it. Yes.
Kicking the coffee habit
And there’s all this social construct that has been built around coffee. Let’s meet for a coffee. Exactly. All social aspects of coffee consumption are playing a big role in our lives. So I would say, as evidenced by the fact that coffee is not healthy, it’s not clear how long and what quantity someone can consume without having any negative consequences.
I think it’s up to us to determine that. But I would suggest that we refrain from endless coffee consumption and maybe consume it as a treat. Yes, I’m sure we can consume it as a treat, but I think you and I have had that conversation around sugar. That the moment you actually do put more sugar in your body, once you’ve cleaned yourself up from your sugar addiction. Then your brain lights up again, and then it wants more, so it just starts that vicious cycle all over again.
So perhaps a better way, which is probably a little bit of a difficult way, would be that once you are cleaned up of your coffee addiction then maybe not go back to it at all. Because now you’re over the addiction and hopefully you can stay away.
The moment you introduce it again into your system, that wanting it comes back. Again, the phenomenon of addiction is different person to person. Yeah. So me, for example, I try to stop coffee for a month every year and see if it has any effect on me.
So during this month, I don’t let myself obsess over coffee. But when you stop, do you get the headaches or do you get cravings? I don’t. For me, it’s just a social thing and I keep it there. It’s just drinking something hot.
But I’ve seen how you make your coffee. You put very little coffee in. You warm up the milk and you don’t put any water. So it’s all pure milk – you like your full fat milk, and you put not even, I would say, a quarter of a teaspoon. I mean, you put nothing in. It’s just for effect, I think. So I don’t think the coffee has really entered your system.
And I think if we can all do it that way, put just enough so we can smell that aroma and have that flavor, maybe that’s one way to go about it. But I guess you still get a good degree of coffee in your system if you do that on a daily basis.
Coffee is not alone
Again, caffeine is just one of the insecticides that are found in plants. In fact, all plants contain some kind of chemicals like this. Coffee is a very passionate subject for many people. This is why we’re addressing it. But in fact, the same considerations can be addressed towards all plant consumption.
Yeah, but that too is a very passionate subject for everybody because people love their fruits and vegetables and they’re not willing to understand or hear what the downside of all these natural chemicals are.
People think that when we say chemicals, that it’s pesticides from outside. Like what would be sprayed on top. It’s not. Even a clean grown plant based food is going to be detrimental to your health because of it’s own chemical properties. And these are the things that don’t get put out into the mainstream.
People aren’t allowed to know this for some reason. If you take biological coffee versus a pesticide, human grown pesticide, you will still have over 100 more pesticides and chemicals than anything that humans can add.
Is it considered coffee bean or is it actually a seed? Technically it is a seed because the whole thing is a fruit and once you get rid of the pulp of the fruit, you process the seed itself to get coffee. There is pulp? Yes. Where? In coffee? Inside. Fruit of coffee? Yeah.
So you have the fruit, you open it up and what’s the fruit called? Sorry for my ignorance. I am actually fascinated. What’s the fruit of it? It’s called the coffee fruit. Technically, it’s a kind of berry. It’s a kind of berry? Yes, it’s called a coffee berry. Okay. You just take it and you remove the pulp and you get the seed.
This seed is then processed. And this seed is what they call a coffee bean. This is the actual bean. But it’s a seed, which means that if we plant it, it would grow. Because it’s a seed. Probably. Yeah, it’s a fruit. Okay.
And is there some sort of a preparation that the seed needs to undergo so that it’s safe for us to consume? The whole processing of coffee beans seeds is very different. But of course you need to roast them. But all this is to get some flavor. It’s got noting to do with safety purposes.
The toxic coffee seed
For example, caffeine, which is a highly toxic substance, is totally resistant to heat. So you will not diminish its toxicity by heating it? No. Okay. Because some things in food you can diminish by just boiling or cooking it so that it’s got lesser of the content of the harmful component. Yes.
Traditionally, cooking and fermenting are ways to reduce the toxicity of plants that you need to consume because basically there’s nothing else available. But by boiling your coffee, that doesn’t help the coffee to reduce any of its toxins. Okay. Interesting.
And why is it that sometimes we feel a little bit lower energy once we’ve bypassed the the coffee high? Other than adenosine levels, is there anything to do with diminished minerals or nutrients? The impact on energy itself is mainly due to these adenosine receptors that’s due to the blocking.
So when you have more receptors being produced by the body, now these molecules can go and give the signal of fatigue. But in terms of pure biological impact of drinking coffee, it is known that there are substances in coffee. It’s not only the caffeine itself. There’s a type of fatty acid that would rob you of your minerals and nutrients.
So there is a lower absorption of iron, for example. That happens when you drink coffee. Really? So that’s really important for women to know. Especially since women tend to be lower on iron. Yes, they need to be aware because of their periods. Losing blood means losing iron and you need to replenish constantly.
The best form of iron is emiron. That is only found in animal products like red meats. Obviously, they’re high in iron. Exactly. Yeah, it’s the right form of iron. You have iron in spinach, but it’s not available like it is in red meat.
If I have coffee whilst having a primarily meat diet, it would diminish the impact of a meat diet when it comes to minerals. Exactly. And this is a common theme when you eat plants along with animal products. The absorption of minerals and vitamins that you could have are lowered by the plants because the strategy of the plant mostly is to try to rob you from any nutrition possible so that you would be weakened. Plants see us as predators, they are made to defend against us.
We must also never forget that our bodies are equipped to deal with toxins and toxicity to a certain degree. So it is really a matter of using our intelligence. Do we feel good? Are we in optimal health? Right.
And in this case, if we drink coffee and we see no impact on this, we carefully assess. If we suffer of any adverse health effects, I would recommend just to cut out coffee. And cut out plants in general. You can reach your optimal health. Then reintroduce and see what happens.
You know, I tried that. I don’t think the reintroduce part is for me. Because my test on whether I’m in good health or not is how tired I feel in the day. And to be very fair to this test, whenever I cut out any caffeine, whether it’s coffee or chocolate or tea, I just feel like the Incredible Hulk.
Like, I just have so much energy, and I have so much strength. And waking up in the mornings, no matter how early and how much work I have do, is never a big deal. But put me back with even a cup of coffee or God forbid, if there’s any sweet with that, both those things have a very difficult effect on my energy level.
So therefore, I know that they’re impacting my health in some way. And I’ve tried it where I’ve just cut out the sugars and I’ve just done coffee, and even then I get impacted. So I think we all need to be very honest with ourselves.
As much as I love sweet desserts and I do like drinking coffee with them, though I don’t love it necessarily. But I do like drinking coffee once in a while. If I’m being painfully honest, these things do just shoot down my energy levels and therefore, no doubt, are impacting my health.
Yes. I think it’s worth observing ourselves closely. Each of us should really assess the impact of what we eat.