First.. the Good News about drinking Coffee.
The benefits of coffee consumption have long been questioned, but now a new group of experts have given it the thumbs up – at least for one issue.
A review of studies published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics says that increasing coffee intake could help reduce the chances of developing alcohol-related cirrhosis.
To examine the relationship between coffee consumption and the risk of cirrhosis, a research team from Southampton University, analyzed nine studies involving more than 430,000 participants. The studies included 1,990 cirrhosis patients. The length of the studies varied, but one lasted nearly 20 years.
In eight of the nine studies analyzed, increasing coffee consumption by two cups per day was “associated with a statistically significant reduction in the risk of cirrhosis” – specifically by 44%.
And.. compared to no coffee consumption, researchers noted approximately one cup per day was linked to 22% lower risk of cirrhosis, three cups helped decrease the risk by 57%, and four cups significantly dropped the risk to 65%. “However, there may be an upper limit beyond which there is no further benefit,” expressed Kennedy. Nevertheless, the researchers cautioned caffeine enthusiasts not to immediately load up on fancy lattes and sugar-laden frappes.
It’s not yet clear what compound in coffee or even which type of coffee bean leads to a healthier liver. The team noted that the potential link between coffee’s health benefits and cirrhosis isn’t a new discovery; however, health care professionals often find this a difficult concept to accept. Additionally, researchers expressed some of the studies reviewed did not account for other risk factors for cirrhosis, like obesity and diabetes.
Now for the Bad News
Chlorine in your coffee water has a dirty little secret. When chlorinated water meets organic matter like coffee grounds, or even tea, it forms carcinogenic trihalomethanes. So unless you have a water filter that removes chlorine and its even nastier alter ego, chloramines, you’re ingesting carcinogens with every sip.
Here’s the conversation we overheard from top water quality specialists from around the world on LinkedIn.
Franz Dillard: “Dear All,
I suppose many of us drink coffee or tea using tap water without removing chlorine from it and we do it every day. I was wondering if the process of coffee or tea making could produce THMs when using chlorinated drinking water?
~ THMs (Trihalomethanes) are carcinogens, byproducts of the reaction between chlorine and organic matter in water.
~ Drinking water has a free chlorine concentration from 0.2 to 0.5 mg/L and coffee or tea are a concentrate of organic matter.
~ During the water treatment process, we avoid the production of THMs by removing as much organic matter as we can before chlorinating the water.
~ But with the coffee or tea preparation process, we put chlorinated water in contact with a concentrate of organic matter.
Owen Boyd : FYI..Trihalomethanes (THMs) are suspected carcinogens and reproductive toxicants commonly found in chlorinated drinking water. This study investigates THM formation during the preparation of beverages and foods using chlorinated drinking water.
A total of 11 foods and 17 beverages were tested. Under the experimental conditions, each food and beverage formed THMs, primarily chloroform, although low or trace levels of brominated THMs were also detected. Tea formed the highest THM levels (e.g., chloroform levels from 3 to 67 microg l(-1)), followed by coffee (from 3 to 13 microg l(-1)), rice (9 microg l(-1)), soups (from 0.4 to 3.0 microg l(-1)), vegetables (<1 microg l(-1)), and baby food (<0.7 microg l(-1)). Chloroform formationwith instant tea, used as a highly reproducible model system, increased with free chlorine concentration, decreased with higher food (tea) concentration, and was unaffected by reaction (steeping) time and bromide ion concentration.
Erik Desormeaux There is not always a silver bullet in terms of water distribution or food and beverage. TTHM’s are just a fraction of the disinfection byproducts that can be of concern. When not utilized properly, Ozone can create bromate that exceeds regulated levels and chloramines can lead to NDMA and other nitrosamines with potential risks that we do not yet fully understand. So the best solution will likely be different at different places based on specific needs.
Also, cold brewed coffee is becoming a popular way of making coffee without boiling.
Hoda Tafvizi I think the best idea is using a filtering device on the tap including activated carbon filter and then you can be sure about THMs!
Ian: Now here’s the silver lining to this bad news. It’s a secret Brita and other filter jug sellers definitely DON’t want you to know!
Thierry Minguet Just put tap water in an open bottle in your fridge. After about half an hour, the chlorine dissolved in the water , maintained in solution under pressure in the pipes, will evolue into gazeous chlorine and evaporate Under atmospheric pressure. Hold the water into the fridge to avoid an infection under room temperature. Don’t hold the water for a long time. Use/replace it. Very cheaper and tasty, not only for coffee.
Moustafa Hedayah Before I make my tea and coffee I boil the water ,,, and that will remove Chlorine gas in case if you don’t have carbon filter.
Richard Ebong There is need for in depth and independent study on this subject. The effect might vary with geographical location and race.
Joy Montgomery How much do bleached coffee filters add?
John Robertson If we were to drink 10 cups (2L) of water from a tap or 10 cups (2L) of boiled water from the same tap per day which would be safer. Safe water needs to be available to the broad population which economically precludes carbon filtration at the point of consumption.
Ian: So.. we’ve learned that if we consume a sixpack of beer a day, it’s a good idea to drink coffee.
But if we do.. we’re ingesting a known carcinogen.
Strange world. Here’s my tuppence worth.
1. If you have a coffee maker, see if the water tank in it is vented. If it is, you’re lucky, becasue as discussed here, chlorine is a gas and will ‘outgas’ from your coffee maker water if it has sufficient surface area.
2. Ring your local council to see if they are using cheap n’ nasty chloramine. This is a mix of ammonia and chlorine which does NOT outgas, but still has the same effect on organics like tea leaves and coffee grounds.
3. If you bought a water filter jug to remove chlorine you were gypped. As you’ve seen here, the chlorine will outgas anyway.
4. Want a better coffee anyway? A good water filter like the UltraStream will remove a far greater range of contaminants and it will alkalize the water, making it take up coffee flavour better. You’ll get more from your coffee dollars and enjoy it more. just like us here at home.
Cassie the Dietician isn’t Cassie the researcher and originator of the New Alkaline Diet. THAT Cassie is my partner, but Cassie the Dietician is also a brilliant researcher on a parallel path to us here at AlkaWay. She’s very much into Paleo and Low Carb, so are we.
So I’m happy to add some links to some of her excellent posts in a series of blogs.
Cassie has worked hard gathering facts about diet beliefs that frankly, are not true. And then busting them.
The first one I want to cover is her ideas about breakfast. There is an idea floating around that our modern high speed lifestyle should just ‘drop’ breakfast and a cup of black ‘Joe’ is a good substitute.. or a doughnut at brunch.
As far as I’m concerned, I am NOT a Buddhist Monk whose first meal comes after a morning of meditation.
I want my tummy to KNOW what’s going on. In that sense am an an equal opportunity employer. I employ my digestive system to digest the healthy food I supply it, and it knows what is going to happen at 7am, around midday and about 7 at night, and it has the freedom to adjust its schedule to suit!
Cassie the dietician says that breakfast is not optional in a health-centered lifestyle! She’s not heavy about what you eat for breakfast because she’s not precious! She says that if eggs aren’t really your thing, that’s okay! She uses the acronym PFC to work out if a specific meal or a food is P-Protein, F= Fats and C= Carbohydrate balanced.. and she’s been very busy creating PFC balanced breakfasts for us. take a look at her top fave breakfast suggestions here.
The Good: Isn’t Really Good
Most people start drinking caffeine because it makes them feel more alert and improves their mood. Many studies suggest that caffeine actually improves cognitive task performance (memory, attention span, etc.) in the short-term. Unfortunately, these studies fail to consider the participants’ caffeine habits. New research from Johns Hopkins Medical School shows that performance increases due to caffeine intake are the result of caffeine drinkers experiencing a short-term reversal of caffeine withdrawal. By controlling for caffeine use in study participants, John Hopkins researchers found that caffeine-related performance improvement is nonexistent without caffeine withdrawal. In essence, coming off caffeine reduces your cognitive performance and has a negative impact on your mood. The only way to get back to normal is to drink caffeine, and when you do drink it, you feel like it’s taking you to new heights. In reality, the caffeine is just taking your performance back to normal for a short period.
The Bad: Adrenaline
Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight or flight” response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re responding to a curt email. When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyper-aroused state, your emotions overrun your behavior.
Irritability and anxiety are the most commonly seen emotional effects of caffeine, but caffeine enables all of your emotions to take charge.
The negative effects of a caffeine-generated adrenaline surge are not just behavioral. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that large doses of caffeine raise blood pressure, stimulate the heart, and produce rapid shallow breathing, which deprives the brain of the oxygen needed to keep your thinking calm and rational.
The Ugly: Sleep
When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, focus, memory, and information processing speed are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Your brain is very fickle when it comes to sleep. For you to wake up feeling rested, your brain needs to move through an elaborate series of cycles. You can help this process along and improve the quality of your sleep by reducing your caffeine intake.
Here’s why you’ll want to: caffeine has a six-hour half-life, which means it takes a full twenty-four hours to work its way out of your system. Have a cup of joe at eight a.m., and you’ll still have 25% of the caffeine in your body at eight p.m. Anything you drink after noon will still be at 50% strength at bedtime. Any caffeine in your bloodstream—with the negative effects increasing with the dose—makes it harder to fall asleep.
As a 2 to 3-cup of ‘black Joe’ a day man, this study attracted my attention.
Let me say at the outset that I have tried, God knows I’ve tried to cut out coffee, sometimes lasting years without it. But hey, we are in Italy. Italy IS coffee. Without a coffee you are not really in Italy. So… we are addicts again. We hover our noses over the raw coffee before we make it and breathe in. We watch expectantly as the Bialetti bubbles away.. and we settle into our drug-induced ‘high’ – as I am in right at this moment after coffee #2 of the day.
I tried. Really, I tried.
The interesting thing about this report is that it seems 5+ cups a day, whether decaf or regular, doubles the visceral fat – that’s the fat that accumulates around the organs. Now where did I read about that before? Well, I read it in Dr William Davis’ myth-shattering book, Wheat Belly. He says that wheat does exactly the same, accumulating visceral fat. He also says that this visceral fat around our organs becomes a repository for toxins, which is a very ‘convenient’ place for toxins to reside.
Professor Vance Matthews, who worked on the study said that two cups a day was actually good for us because the chlorogenic acid found in coffee acts to break down fat deposits, but at 5 a day the opposite kicked in, with an additional problem that it increased insulin resistance – a surefire pathway to diabetes.
So for we alkaline paleo diet people this once again demonstrates the problem with a straight ‘alkaline’ diet which only chooses foods based on their ability to have an alkalinizing response in the body. Here we have an acid – just like hugely beneficial Vitamin C is an acid – that has been shown to do us good. And here we see the problem of the alkaline diet’s simplistic approach. It just says choose foods on alkalinizing ability, ignoring the fact that (a) the AMOUNT of food you eat is equally or even more relevant, and (b) it doesn’t even approach the simple truth that without many essential acids we could not survive. Its 80/20 rule (80% alkali producing foods, 20% acid producing foods) has no real science behind it that I have been able to find.
I find this interesting for another reason.
(Please leave if I’m wandering too much) Dr Lynda Frasetto says that in an analysis of paleo diets from available evidence, they were overwhelmingly alkaline. Now, the immediate conclusion would be that they ate more plant food than meat, but other studies conclude the opposite. It seems to me that the answer may be in how much we eat of each group, and my own realisation that the basic alkaline diet wasn’t working for me led me to the experience of almost total carb, grain and sugar reduction, which in turn reduced my addictions to these foods, which in turn reduced my NEED to eat so much! In ‘Building Better Bones’ it states that once we eat too much meat beyond satiety, it all becomes acid waste. So I’m presuming that our ancestors had a very different consumption pattern to us, that all the studies are correct, that they indeed did choose meat and fat as their primary energy source, supplemented by greens, but they never ate to the stage we regularly do and therefore maintained an alkaline diet!
Looking For A Different Passion Other Than Food?
I have been a Live to Eat (and drink) kind of person…
… and changing over to a Eat to Live person has been an interesting… and challenging experience.
I realised I actually needed to find my passion to fill my need for meaning instead of using food for that purpose. No more thinking constantly of what treat to make or to buy or looking in the fridge constantly to see if something have magically appeared that takes my fancy as a way of filling in the space inside.
I think the journey towards my passion is an ongoing odyssey. It changes and grows as I change and grow and getting healthy and sharing everything I have learnt with anyone who will listen (hence this blog) is a big part of my passion.
It’s certainly not impossible to go out for a meal as long as I pick the right restaurant and order only the meat and above ground vegetables. Unfortunately it’s always the better restaurants (more expensive) that will have better quality foods and oils and be more accommodating for my needs. Forget eating at takeaways or fat food places, they just don’t have anything to offer.
When I eat out I try make sure I get enough good fat in my meal, as there isn’t the usual potato or pasta as a filler. This will make sure I am full and so won’t be tempted to order a dessert. I will ask for some extra virgin olive oil or I will bring some butter, ghee or coconut oil to put on my meal myself.
I will drink mostly mineral water with a little lemon juice squeezed into it. This drink is amazingly satisfying. The other really good drink to have, when I can get it, is a pot of green tea.
Cover your ears if coffee is a daily essential!
When we drink coffee it goes into your stomach first, and it has an irritant effect on the stomach lining. The word ‘stomach’ here means the organ between your oesophagus and duodenum. It’s the pipe that fills the stomach, and the stomach. With leaky gut we often have ongoing inflammation right in the stomach and we suffer from reflux, indigestion, burping and heart burn. Drinking coffee, particularly on an empty stomach, will aggravate this situation. If you suffer from any of the above, do not drink coffee until your stomach has healed and your reflux and other symptoms in that area have gone for good. Once on your way to recovery one cup a day (on a full stomach! – so, at the end of a meal) is usually tolerated, but not by everybody. So, make sure that it agrees with you.
It’s my experience, even within our very health-conscious family, that leaky gut is a common but unknown problem. Along with toxins, it affects everything. Even when we do everything right, a leaky gut may persist well after we remove external toxins, and that’s why we need a diet that is specifically designed to heal the gut and keep us healing until we can once again savour the aroma of a fresh cup of long black!
What my real experience is I don’t need coffee like I did before. I can easily get through my day without this artificial hit, I know, I know, hard to believe isn’t it?
If you are a regular coffee drinker (even only one a day) have you experienced getting actually depressed,anxious, foggy brained, angry or just plain lethargic it you don’t have that coffee?
The truth is I was feeling that way because all those starchy carbohydrates were feeding the micro-organisms that were having a opioid like effect on my brain. These foods were making me crave more of these foods which were causing my unhealthy gut. Add to this the toxins made by the bad gut micro-organisms circulating in my blood and no wonder I wanted a coffee for an energy lift, a mood enhancer and brain boost.
So now I don’t need that coffee lift, I have energy, I am clear thinking and I am more balanced emotionally from good nutrition.