Health Benefits of Coffee: From a Nutritionist Who Co-Owns a Coffee Company…

It may seem like a conflict of interest, as the co-owner of a coffee roastery, to use this platform to talk about how great coffee can be, but the science backs me up. So I feel justified. Below I have compiled a list of some of the main benefits the right amount of coffee can have on the body, according to the experts. It is important to remember that “the right amount of coffee” is different for everybody. Experts agree that adults* should stay under 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. The average cup of joe contains 80-100mg each, so staying under 4 cups a day is a decent rule to follow.

*This does not apply to those on a caffeine-free diet, or women who are expecting and have had to reduce daily caffeine intake. If you have any concerns, please ask your health care provider before adding coffee to your morning routine.*

And, as a disclaimer, this blog post is speaking about black coffee. You won’t get any hate from me when you start adding in whatever cream and sugar combination you love, I’m not one to skip my caramel macchiato when the mood strikes, but this post is speaking solely to the health benefits of unaltered, no sugar added, lactose free, black coffee.

And so, without further ado, the benefits of coffee consumption:

  • Can improve energy levels. Caffeine blocks the neurotransmitter adenosine which allows an increase in other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. This improves brain function and has shown in controlled studies to increase: memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and general mental function.

  • Helps burn fat! Studies have shown that caffeine can boost your metabolic rate anywhere from 3-29%!

  • A great source of essential nutrients. One cup of coffee can contain 11% of the recommended daily intake of Riboflavin (vitamin B2); 6% of the recommended Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5); 3% of the recommended Manganese and Potassium; and 2% of the recommended Magnesium and Niacin (vitamin B3).

  • Lowers the risk of certain diseases and medical conditions.
    • Type 2 Diabetes: Multiple studies found that regular coffee consumption lowers the odds of developing Type 2 diabetes. That’s true for decaf as well as the high-octane variety.
    • Neurological diseases: Regular daily caffeine intake — like the kind you get from your daily cup — is linked to a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as well as Parkinson’s disease
    • Liver disease: Coffee seems to protect against liver cirrhosis in people at risk of the disease, such as those with alcohol use disorder or fatty liver disease.
    • Cancer: Researchers have found that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of liver cancer and colorectal cancer — two of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the world.
    • Depression: That pick-me-up you get from a foamy cappuccino may not be a figment of your imagination. Several studies have found that the more coffee a person drinks, the lower their risk of depression.

And that’s just a few of the benefits, click any of the links below to learn more about some of the potential benefits to adding coffee to your diet!

Driving Thought: What’s for Dinner!?

As a NASM certified nutrition coach, my first thought when I sit down to write a health and wellness blog post is: FOOD!

It’s a driving series of thoughts in my day-to-day life, and I would venture a guess that it’s similar for you.

What do I want for breakfast? Is it time for lunch? What should I make for dinner? Who ate the last piece of lasagna? Where did I put the tomatoes? Did I forget the limes… again? How do we need more bread already? Is it time for a snack?

And that’s all in a five-minute period of time at 7:16 in the morning.

As I said in my last post, getting my nutrition under control saved my life, but what I didn’t really get into in that post is the process it took for me to reach the point that I could use a phrase like “my nutrition is under control”. It was so hard. I had no real base of knowledge to pull from. It took time and patience, trial and error, and oh so many tears.

When the doctor made my official diagnosis of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI), she gave me a few useful tips and then a lot of medicine. I can’t speak for her, I don’t really know what was happening in her mind as she explained what was happening in my body, but my assumption is that she was so used to people not following the nutritional advice she offered that she defaulted to the medicinal answer to my problem. I’m not saying anything bad about the medicine, it saved my life, and I’m grateful for both it and the doctor who prescribed it. However, the limited nutritional advice I was given (go on an extreme low-fat diet of no more than 25g a day, stop drinking alcohol, and if something you eat makes you feel bad stop eating it), was so vague and frustrating that I had to spend hours upon hours researching what I was and wasn’t supposed to be putting into my body.

I took to the internet, of course I was researching my condition, but mostly I was devouring recipes! Eliminate alcohol is clear enough, but an extremely low fat diet is really hard to achieve, especially in the American food culture.

25g of total fat in a day, that includes “healthy fats”, let me give you some examples of what that looks like:

  • ¼ cup of cashews
  • ¾ of an avocado
  • 3tbsp of Natural Peanut Butter
  • ½ cup of almonds
  • 1 ½ tbsp of Olive Oil
  • 2 pads of butter
  • 4oz. of 80/20 ground beef… then add cheese and mayonnaise… cheeseburgers were out

However, by the grace of God, the selections I found at my local grocery store, and my new found ability to actually keep an intuitive food journal, I finally got to the point that I was consistently hitting that mark. I had to get inventive with my food. I had to make myself separate meals from my children (they needed those fats I couldn’t have anymore). I learned just how many uses there are for applesauce. I even make my own spicy strawberry salad dressing, I’m the only one who eats it, but it’s amazing! And it took me the better part of a year to get to that point. A year of tears and pain. A year of trial and error. A year of elimination and substitution. A year of 15 pills a day; that’s 456 pills a month… 5,475 pills total. But at the end, once I understood how my body works now, once I dedicated myself to doing what had to be done, I was able to stop the pharmaceutical regimen and food literally became my medicine.

It was a lesson I will never forget and one that has spurred me into the life and career I now have.

If this is the kind of situation you find yourself in, not necessarily EPI, but one where your entire diet needs a major overhaul, these are my words of wisdom: It takes time. It’s frustrating. It’s daunting. It’s painful. And, it’s possible. You can do this!

Also, if you want to try my spicy strawberry salad dressing, just let me know, I have recipes to share!

Fries or Figs?

This post was intended to go a very different route.  As it is my first contribution to the Teacup Wellness world, and honoring my background as a nutrition coach, I had intended it to be a comical take on the eating habits of my family. We all have very different preferences and if I don’t laugh about it, I will cry… But, after writing a couple paragraphs I just wasn’t really feeling it. I was sharing funny stories and making a big joke of it, because that’s just what I do. It’s who I am. Life is funny, and I truly love to laugh. However, I decided to delete and start over. I have built myself a soapbox, I might as well preach a little.

Since it’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way maybe I can spare someone else the pain.

For most of my life, I ate whatever I wanted, whatever was available, whatever tasted good. Oh man, when I was overseas there was this little restaurant on the NATO pier and they had the greatest menu on Earth. I, being young and dumb, did not take advantage of the local delicacies as I should have and instead opted for a little ditty that reminded me of home. Chili cheese curly fries. The nectar of the gods. And in this case, by ‘gods’, I mean heart disease. It was so undeniably good and they would give me this huge container filled to the brim with cheesy, saucy, delicious-ness.

One night when I was headed in for a 12 hour shift, I swung by my favorite restaurant, grabbed my chili cheese curly fries to go and rolled into the dispatch office; heart disease in one hand and a case of liquid heart attack (a highly caffeinated soda I’m not sure I can name without getting sued) in the other. This was a standard meal for me at the time. Over the next 12 hours I would crack soda after soda and eat fry after fry, all the while saving the world. And everyone was fine with it, that is, except the interpreter that sat on the other side of the room; ready at a moment’s notice to shout everything I was shouting in a variety of languages I couldn’t begin to comprehend. He was a good guy. However, it seemed that he had had enough of my non-foodie nonsense.

So, walking in that night, I relieved my predecessor, sat up my space and settled in for a long night of world policing. After maybe 30 minutes, when turn over had completed and everyone was calmly moving into their predetermined tasks, I reached over, opened my Styrofoam container of awesome and reached down to grab a can of liquid energy from the case I had placed under the desk.

“No.” I heard my interpreter’s voice on the other side of the room.

“What is it?” I asked, the hair on my neck standing straight up. He monitored all the radio channels I couldn’t understand and there was a constant stream of chatter. “What’s happening!?”

“Not again.” He said, rising from his chair and walking across the room. “Not tonight.”

I then watched in sodium-addicted horror as he snatched my curly fries off my desk and hurled them into the trash. In their place he sat down a bowl of figs, with these words of wisdom, “you are going to kill yourself, eat a *expletive* fig.”

He was right. I didn’t know it at the time, and I was too angry at him to see it from his prospective, but I was, indeed, killing myself. After 10 months of dealing with acute organ failure, being diagnosed with Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) and taking upwards of 15 pills a day, just to try to stay alive, I finally learned the lesson he was trying to teach me all those years ago. My poor choices (and there were several) were killing me. My food-addiction was killing me. My low-quality diet was killing me.

I’m happy to say that I am now back in working order, organ function has been restored and I watch what I eat and what I feed my family like a hawk. Learn from my mistakes. Take care of your body.

In the immortal words of Dimitris, “Eat a *expletive* fig!”

For more info on EPI:

For more info on the health benefits of figs:

For more info on the nutritional value of chili cheese fries:

For more info on what happens to your body if you drink soda every day (or a full case in a night!):