August 31, 2009
I recently had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Diana O’Connell that my trainer arranged at the Wild Basin Preserve before our group hike. I’d like to think I know more than the average bear about nutrition, although I can’t say that I always put that wisdom to use in my own lifestyle. Even so, Diana made a couple of points that really stuck with me.
While it goes without saying that too much of anything can be bad for your health, I’ve never fully understood what is so bad about coffee. It is mostly water and I drink it with light vanilla soy milk only, so I’m not getting the ridiculous calorie intake of, say, a venti caramel macchiato from Starbucks. I also only drink about 1-2 cups in the morning, so my caffeine intake is not comparable to an IV drip like some people I know.
I’ve read that since coffee is a diuretic, it can dehydrate you. I’ve also read that the amount of fluid lost from coffee (or tea) is inconsequential. I’ve read that coffee has a myriad of benefits from reduction of risk of diabetes to parkinson’s disease, so why all the fuss over a few boiled beans?
Diana really helped to put it into perspective. Our liver, kidneys, and other parts of our body’s systems that filter toxins can only take so much. Even if you have the most impeccable diet in the world, you are still absorbing toxins from the air you breathe and everything that touches your skin. Since most of us are not perfect and cannot eat only organic produce, or completely abstain from processed foods, our detox systems are working overtime to keep our bodies free of anything internalized through our digestive system AND all of the latest and greatest chemicals and preservatives in our personal care and cleaning products, AND anything that may be absorbed through our skin or lungs when we’re out and about in the world. That’s some serious overtime.
When there is too much toxic waste for our bodies to dispose of properly, it starts to wreck all kinds of things including organs that control our hormones, our cells’ metabolic rate, and our body’s ability to communicate with the brain in an effective manner and it’s ability to regulate itself. Hence, the crash-and-burn effect after too much caffeine, alcohol, or unhealthy foods.
However, in the end, there is a certain amount of pleasure that comes from a hot mug of coffee first thing in the morning. Diana conceded that it isn’t worth denying yourself some small thing if it will make you bonkers for the rest of the day. So, while there are days that I go without coffee completely, I feel quite a bit better about my single cup with light soy on those days when I would be going for someone’s jugular without it.
P.S. If you’re ever in the mood for a beautiful, quiet nature hike, Wild Basin Preserve is a great place to visit!