While many of us start the day with a big cup of coffee, you actually may be lowering your energy levels by doing this. How is this possible? Well, quite simply, your body releases insulin in response to the caffeine found within coffee. This, in turn, causes a major drop in blood sugar, which leaves you feeling depleted and tired. Not a great way to start your day. Munch on a small snack during your morning cup, or even eat right before you drink. Your body will thank you for it.
If you are already a coffee drinker, it should be reassuring that after decades of research, no strong link can be found between coffee intake and cancer and, to the contrary, a number of health benefits seem to accompany coffee consumption. But, I’m not sure the evidence is powerful enough to recommend an increase in your daily habit. One reason is that we don’t know for sure that coffee consumption actually caused the health benefits observed in these studies. Some other, unmeasured factor could be responsible. Another reason is that the overall effect was small. And, it’s worth noting that some people are quite sensitive to the side effects of coffee.
“Absolutely not,” says Donald Hensrud, medical director of Mayo Clinic's Healthy Living Program. “You have to enjoy life, and if you enjoy tea, keep on enjoying it. It’s all good. There are health benefits to coffee, to black tea and to green tea.” But there can also be problems associated with higher doses of caffeine, he notes. The amount in more than two cups of coffee a day, for example, can interfere with conception and increase the risk of miscarriage. And, he says, because individuals metabolize caffeine at different rates, slow metabolizers may be more susceptible to side effects such as heartburn, insomnia, heart palpitations and irritability.
After one too many long nights at the office, it’s not uncommon to experience mental fatigue. In addition to getting your mental health back on track to make sure it doesn’t lead to more serious health problems, drink some coffee: A 2010 review in the journal Nutrition found caffeine can help decrease the exhaustion you’re feeling by perking your body up.
I also occasionally like to add a teaspoon of organic cocoa powder (non-sweetened) to my coffee to make my own sort of mocha coffee (but without the loads of sugar in a typical mocha you'd get at the coffee shop, so just use a little stevia to sweeten). The added cocoa powder also gives you great taste and a good dose of extra healthy antioxidants (and cocoa is also known for helping to lower blood pressure!)
If you lust after those frothy frozen coffee drinks at your local coffee shop, then this mochaccino recipe is for you. This easy homemade version uses low-fat milk, cocoa powder, coffee and just a little bit of maple syrup, so it has a fraction of the calories of a traditional version. (A small mocha frappuccino at Starbucks is 270 calories!) Coffee ice cubes, made by freezing coffee in an ice cube tray, make this drink frosty and give it a big, strong coffee flavor. Recipe by Joyce Hendley for EatingWell.
Want to add even more antioxidants to your coffee and control your blood sugar? I thought so. How exactly does one do that? It’s simple: just add a pinch of cinnamon to your cup! Interestingly, cinnamon has a fairly long history of use as both a spice and a medicine. While it can be used at any time of year, it no doubt tastes best during the cold, winter months.
I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.
If you love the taste of coffee creamers, but don’t love all the processed sugar and added fat, try vanilla extract or vanilla bean for a hit of flavor. Add a few drops of pure extract to your pot of coffee or add a vanilla bean to your coffee grounds so the flavor infuses before you brew. (Note: The longer you keep the vanilla bean in your grounds, the stronger the flavor will be.)
Already think the benefits of coffee are endless? Well they pretty much are: It can even strengthen your DNA. A small 2014 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found drinking coffee regularly significantly reduced the oxidative damage in the body’s white blood cells, which can hurt your DNA. Instead, the coffee—dark roast, in this case!—helped keep the DNA strong.
John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.
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