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I hope everyone has had a good morning thus far.

It’s a rainy day here on the East Coast, which always makes me want a warm mug of coffee. Recapping last night’s dinner quickly, I ate this decently oversized slice of veggie pizza (melty mozzarella and thick, warm bread is always a winning combo) and had more veggies on the side, in the form of a kale salad topped with carrots, sprouted seeds and hummus. Also, another half a bottle of GT’s Green Kombucha was consumed. Love that stuff!

Going back to steaming hot cups of coffee, this also happened yesterday evening:

I ended my night with this steaming hot cup of coffee and an apricot bar. I typically consume caffeine like there’s no tomorrow. Part of it is that I go to coffee shops a lot, like a lot, a lot, to get my work done and I usually get a cup of coffee or an americano while I’m there. My co-workers have joked that there’s more coffee in my system than blood or water, which would be true except it’s probably scientifically impossible. I’ve cut back recently but I hate the feeling of dependency, in life generally, but also on foods or substances that make me feel a certain way.

How much caffeine do you consume? Do you feel like you have a dependency on any type of food?  

I want to live and eat mindfully and healthily. I want to fuel my body with enough macronutrients, and want to replenish my body with an abundance of superfoods with a broad range of antioxidants following a tough workout. Coffee doesn’t necessarily fit that bill, so I thought. Too much of any one thing is usually not good for you. 

Studies have offered widely conflicting results on the relative benefits and harms associated with regular coffee consumption. However, the most recent, and largest study yet conducted by the National Institute of Health and published in the New England Journal of Medicine a few months ago looked at the coffee habits of more than 400,000 men and women over a period of twelve to thirteen years. The regular coffee drinkers in the study were also more likely to be smokers, and also ate more red meat and fewer fruits and vegetables, exercised less and drank more alcohol – all behaviors associated with poor health –

The study found that, in general, coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart or respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, injuries, accidents or infections. The strongest effect seen in the study was in women who had four or five cups a day – an impressive 16 percent lower risk of death.

Say, what!? Sign me up for the 4 cup a day plan! Obviously, I’m taking this with a HUGE, PREHISTORIC GLACIER SIZED grain of salt, as none of the risk reductions were huge numbers and the study simply followed a group of people (albeit, a selectively similar one), there was no way to isolate caffeine in this study and separate its effect on the body from, say tobacco or red meat, or to account for other factors common among coffee drinkers that might account for the positive health effects. The “bad” about coffee is that it contains caffeine, a stimulant that may temporarily increase heart rate and blood pressure in some people. However, coffee also contains hundreds of unique compounds and antioxidants that may confer health benefits. Interesting tidbit — although antioxidants are found in abundance in fruits and vegetables, research has shown that coffee is the top source of antioxidants for AmericansI think that is a pretty sad fact. Are American diets still so devoid of veggies?

In any case, did this little digging in hopes of finding some definitive research would sway me one way or another but no such luck. It’s just that, with medical studies like these, it is so, so difficult to confirm findings. We can speculate and analyze correlations all we want but can’t really know using this methodology. However, experts say that with so many people, more than a decade of follow-up and enough deaths to compare, this is probably the best evidence we have. Just lay off the sugar and heavy cream. These extra calories and fat could negate any benefits from coffee. Also drink filtered coffee rather than boiled, because filtering removes compounds that raise LDL cholesterol.

I will take these medical studies into account when deciding what is and isn’t good for me but I think I need to just be more intuitive about it. I need to do what makes my body feel powerful and healthy, and to recognize that a stimulant of any kind, in excess, is not good for me. So, one cup a day is my goal. ONE! I also need to stop drinking caffeine at 8 PM, which is what I did last night. Perhaps my caffeine consumption is related to me not sleeping until 2/3 AM? Cause and effect, my friends.

Happy warm mugs of coffee from the rainy east cost,

Em.

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