When I was in college I got a job as a Barista at an independent coffee house that was located near the train in Chicago. I became immersed in the world of coffee and the eclectic and exciting culture that surrounds a really great shop. I would often hang out long after my shift was over and come in to do homework on my days off. I was completely hooked and dependent on a cup of Joe to get me through late night cramming sessions and early morning exams.
Now, I’m wrapped up in a different culture, that of motherhood. Coffee, once again, is my saving grace as I try to function during the day with a mere few hours of sleep under my belt. Just the thought of sticking my nose deep in the coffee bag to smell it’s addicting aroma is enough to get me out of bed in the morning.
Coffee has definitely gotten a bad rap for it’s negative affects on our health. We’ve all heard about the dangers of too much caffeine (mild stimulant to the central nervous system) and how coffee can cause dehydration and constipation. Also, let’s not forget about the teeth staining. Research suggests, however, that sensible consumption of coffee doesn’t cause harm and in fact there are actually some possible health benefits.
According to Harvard Health Publications, “Studies show that the risk for type 2 diabetes is lower among regular coffee drinkers than among those who don't drink it. Also, coffee may reduce the risk of developing gallstones, discourage the development of colon cancer, improve cognitive function, reduce the risk of liver damage in people at high risk for liver disease, and reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease. Coffee has also been shown to improve endurance performance in long-duration physical activities.” Coffee contains antioxidants, which are thought to help battle cancer and provide other health benefits. Also, while coffee can’t wipe out genetic factors, it may help to combat Alzheimer's disease. Over all, moderation is key here. If you’re like me and you like to drink something hot throughout the day, try adding some decaf into the mix.
Another thing to consider is buying organic, fair trade coffee from sustainable growers, which is better for your wellbeing and it tastes better. According to the Global Healing Center, “Sustainably grown organic coffee is often grown slower, and under rain-forest canopy. It is also grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides, allowing the coffee to keep all of its nutrients. During the pressing process, organic coffee is processed without the use of the harsh chemicals commonly used on non-organic beans. What is more, organic coffee plants create soil that holds its complex nutrient base. These plants can then feed nutrients back into the beans at a slow and steady rate, adding a robust, smooth flavor to the beans. It also allows the native soil to retain its complex nutrient base (as compared to the depleted soils commonly found on full-sun coffee farms).” Starbucks sells organic, fair trade coffee, as do several other companies such as Green Mountain Coffee, Java Planet Organic Coffee Roasters and Organic Coffee Company. Buy and drink responsibly for your environment and for your health.
Picture credit: reallynatural.com