Most coffee drinkers are well aware of the fact that their morning cup of joe contains caffeine.  Many of us also recognize caffeine as a central nervous system stimulant, and a few of us know that caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug. Coffee often appears on lists of substances to avoid when you are trying to improve your health, and many coffee drinkers are aware of the headaches and other symptoms that accompany caffeine withdrawl.  But despite an obvious need to apply moderation to coffee intake, the reality is that coffee offers many health benefits!  So rather than eliminating your coffee intake, why not learn to optimize it.  Used properly, coffee can be a powerful component of you self care tool kit.

Follow these 5 principles to transform your morning cup of joe from a toxic neurostimulant to a health promoting tonic:

  • Ditch the sugar and the creamer.  Brewed coffee is a complex mixture of phytochemicals that include cancer fighting antioxidants and rich aromatherapy compounds.  That’s right.  Coffee contains essential oils. It also contains some vitamins, like pantothenic acid and riboflavin.  On the other hand, sugar is just sugar.  Something most people in developed countries drink far too much of.  Creamer (specifically non-dairy creamer) is not cream at all.  It comes from processed corn syrup solids.

  • Either drink it black or use real cream.  Specifically organic cream.  You know, that nutrient dense, energy rich substance that comes from cattle (or goats and sheep if you are into that) that are raised in green pastures with so much space to move around in that they don’t need to be treated with drugs to stay healthy and keep producing milk.

  • Start with good water.  Don’t put that chlorinated stuff coming out of the tap into your coffee pot (and don’t let it go down your throat) without filtering it. Now, if you have fresh water from an uncontaminated well, that’s a different story.  One day we’ll prepare an article on water quality, but for now let’s just assume that you know what “good water” is.

  • Know where your coffee came from, and how it was grown.  Pesticides on fresh produce eaten cold are one thing.  But coffee beans full of pesticide residues that are brewed in hot water are going to mobilize those pesticides.  When you drink your coffee hot, pesticide residues are going to readily penetrate cells in your digestive tract.  There, they can actually poison beneficial microbes that you need in your small intestine to help you digest food.   Pesticide residues in your coffee may also activate cytochrome P45o enzymes that trigger a cascade of cell damaging free radicals.  Learn more about coffees from different regions of the world here, or ask any member of The Extension Team how you can get organic coffee delivered to you.

  • Vary your beverage intake.  Including herb teas, infused waters, and mineral waters in a rotation with a small daily cup of coffee can promote good health.  Notice that I did not list sugar-laden soft drinks, drinks filled with artificial sweeteners, or frequent alcoholic beverages on the list here.    Keep those to a minimum as well.

Now that you know how to make the best of your coffee habit, take a deep breath and imagine the aroma of your favorite blend.

 A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems.

– Alfred Renyi