There is a good chance you have tried coffee once in your life and may be drinking it everyday ever since. With Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Tim Hortons, and small coffee shops everywhere in Rochester, NY, it's easy for Rochesterians to get that coffee fix. Coffee and caffeine have a bad reputation and are usually the first culprit people blame when they are having health problems. While it may not be healthy to drink excessive amounts of coffee with tons of sugar, we can recognize that there are some health benefits that have been associated with drinking coffee. So let’s take a look at the lighter side of coffee, what some studies have shown, and how you can optimize your coffee experience.

Caffeine has become one of the most popular nutritional supplements for exercise and the research has recently been catching up with the claimed benefits. While there is no evidence that suggests caffeine will increase muscle growth or improve weight loss, there are benefits to taking caffeine before your next workout. Studies show caffeine can increase exercise performance by 10%. Caffeine will also increase your metabolic rate by 10-20% and your body will be burning more calories naturally, even when at rest. It is important to note that these studies were specifically for caffeine. Some pre-workouts may have additional performance enhancing substances in them which may not have been thoroughly researched. Always check the labels of your supplements and see if they are safe to use.

Research on coffee specifically has also produced some interesting trends. While there are no mechanisms yet to explain the findings, research does show coffee drinkers have reduced risk of heart failure, improved brain performance, increased rate of neurons firing, and a decreased risk of liver and rectal cancer. Coffee also contains a lot of vital nutrients. In one cup you get a good amount of B-vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants. 

When drinking coffee in the morning, try to wait till at least one hour after you wake up. The stress hormone cortisol is naturally elevated for an hour after waking up. Coffee also causes a release of cortisol. When taken too early, the combination can cause a cortisol spike that lasts significantly longer than one hour. High cortisol levels can cause weight gain, elevated blood pressure, and even osteoporosis. It is also a good idea to avoid drinking more than 4 cups of coffee per day to avoid keeping cortisol elevated through the day.

Keep in mind the calories that are coming with your coffee. Many of the specialty coffee drinks are nothing more than glorified milk shakes that are more sugar than coffee. If you want all of the benefits of coffee with none of the calorie ramifications, try drinking it black. If you are having difficulties with the taste, try slowly reducing the amount of sugar or cream added each day. Also try different roasts that may be a better fit for your palate.

It is important to recognize the benefits of all foods, even ones that most people may find harmful to their diets. Here at Rush-Henrietta Family Chiropractic, we educate patients on the pro’s and con’s of all foods currently in their diet. Our nutrition program helps people in the Rochester, NY area develop a strong understanding of the foods they eat, and how they can make smaller changes to improve their overall health. If you are interested in learning more about the foods you eat, give us a call to schedule a free consultation!