It is either something you really enjoy, or something you do not understand the appeal of. I fall into the latter group, but I often wonder if I am missing out on some potential health benefits from the coffee or if I am lowering my risk of other health concerns because I do not drink it.

The health benefits of coffee include: heart and brain protection, blood-sugar control, gall bladder health, Parkinson's disease prevention and lowers the risk of prostate cancer. A study in 2008 showed that those who consumed between two and five cups a day had about a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular death when compared with those who had less than one cup a month. It might be the phenol, an antioxidant, found in the coffee which has been shown to prevent blood clots from forming. The phenols also help to regulate blood sugar levels. The caffeine found in the coffee seems to stimulate gall bladder function. Caffeine also increases the supply of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, and thus helping to prevent against Parkinson's disease. In May 2011 a research study done at Harvard School of Public Health, showed that men who drank 6 or more cups of coffee per day for 20 yrs had an 18% lower risk of developing prostate cancer and were 60% less likely to die of it. Men who drank just one to three cups had a 30% lower risk of dying from prostate cancer.

The concerns of coffee include: sleep disturbances, weak bones, heartburn, stomach pains, pregnancy problems, and drug interactions. Caffeinated beverages can alter your sleep pattern, especially if you drink it later in the day. Caffeine also increases the excretion of calcium into the urine, leading to weakened bones and an increase in kidney stones. The acids found within coffee can inflame the esophagus leading to heartburn, along with other gastrointestinal issues. Caffeine in higher dosages may lead to lower birth weight babies. Antidepressant and antipsychotic medications will interact with caffeine and lead to a higher risk of side effects.

With the above health benefits and health risks should we drink coffee or not? The recommendation has to be individualized. This is where your Naturopathic Doctor can help you answer this question. Call (415) 912-9934 to set up your free 15 minute consultation with Dr. Anita to see how coffee and naturopathic medicine can benefit you.