Should You Quit Coffee?

Dr. Andrea Hilborn, ND After getting me addicted to a morning cup of coffee over the past year, my husband has suddenly decided that he will stop drinking it. This decision comes after we found the most delicious, affordable brand (Lavazza Crema e Gusto). I absolutely love the feeling coffee gives me - like I can conquer the world. But I found that the initial feeling often fades into a scatter-brained, low-grade anxiety. I tried to quit last fall but with the delicious aroma filling up our house every morning, the attempt was doomed to failure. So now we are giving it up together. Should you be?

There are many studies that have tried to discover whether or not it is healthy for us to drink coffee. Depending on which outcome these studies look at, the conclusions are conflicting! Here is a brief, incomplete summary: Compared to tea-drinkers, coffee-drinkers are at a greater risk of osteoporosis Drinking coffee appears to lower the risk of diabetes type 2 Dementia risk appears to be lowered by drinking coffee 2 trials have found that regular coffee consumption lowers your risk of death by any cause! In people who already have diabetes, coffee makes blood sugar control worse

The take-away is that a small amount of coffee in the morning probably won't hurt and might actually help. That being said, you can probably get all the health benefits of coffee without the risks by drinking tea, especially if it is green tea.

There are certain conditions where coffee should be avoided entirely: Heartburn - coffee stimulates the secretion of stomach acid Anxiety - coffee activates the nervous system, which is already too activated if you have anxiety Insomnia - coffee interrupts sleep. You may have stopped noticing it, but do a trial without coffee and see how you feel Infertility - caffeine intake may be associated with a higher risk of miscarriage Hyperthyroidism - same reason as you should avoid it in anxiety- the nervous system already has too much stimulation

If you have high cholesterol, avoid any coffee made without a filter. This type of coffee has been found to aggravate cholesterol levels. When you are pregnant, the standard recommendation is to keep your intake to 1 cup per day. Some naturopaths recommend stopping altogether. If you have high blood pressure that hasn't responded to treatment, it is worth a try to stop caffeine and see what happens.

The bottom line is that quitting coffee shouldn't be a health priority for most people at most times. Spend your limited will power on the more important stuff - eating healthy and exercising.

As for me, I'm doing just fine with tea instead of coffee, but I fully intend to have my java on weekends, when there is time to prepare and enjoy it without having to run out the door!