I drink a lot of coffee. And being a somewhat health-conscious person, I am always wondering about how I can do things just a little bit “healthier.”
That includes how I drink coffee.
There is no question that moderate coffee consumption may be beneficial. Recent studies noted by Harvard University suggest:
- Risk for Type 2 diabetes is lower among coffee drinkers
- Coffee drinking may reduce the risk of colon cancer
- May guard against heart failure
- Lowers the risk of stroke
- Lowers the risk of coronary heart disease
- Lowers the risk of liver damage in those people who are high risk for liver disease
- Lowers the risk of depression
But is there anything else to know about drinking coffee in a healthier way? I recently spoke to local Seattle Nutritionist, Michelle Babb and asked her a few questions.
Here is what she had to say:
SCS: In general, as a nutritionist, what do you recommend for someone who drinks 3-5 cups of coffee a day?
MB: I generally recommend that coffee drinkers try to eat a good breakfast before starting in on their coffee, so that they have some food in their stomach as a buffer. This also helps prevent altering natural hunger cues. I also suggest that they try to have a caffeine cut-off time (typically noon or 1 p.m.), just to be sure that the caffeine is not acting as a sleep disruptor.
SCS: We’re familiar with the eight glasses of water a day quota. But how much water should someone drink if they drink coffee regularly?
MB: This is somewhat controversial. Since caffeine is known to be a mild diuretic, I don't suggest counting your cups of coffee as part of your daily water tally. I recommend that clients still aim for about 2 liters of good old fashioned water every day (in addition to their coffee).
SCS: Do you recommend any supplements or small diet changes that people should make if they drink coffee?
MB: The biggest dietary problem I see with coffee drinkers is that the stimulatory effect of the coffee masks hunger cues and causes people to postpone eating until they suddenly become famished. This is why I suggest starting off with a good breakfast before coffee. Even something small like yogurt or whole grain toast with peanut butter will do. Another small change is to be mindful about having a small meal or snack every 3-4 hours throughout the day and to think of coffee as a beverage, not a meal replacement.
SCS: I heard that coffee might impact your skin’s PH level – and that a shot of apple cider vinegar might help keep your skin’s PH balanced. Is this true? Do you recommend anything else?
MB: It's true that coffee is more acidic than alkaline, but I'm not convinced it would have a major impact on skin pH. I would suggest keeping up on the water drinking and skip the apple cider vinegar.
SCS: When it comes to coffee drinkers, do you have any specific health/nutritional advice for men/women (or age) specifically?
MB: There's definitely some encouraging research that coffee has a protective effect against cardiovascular disease for both men and women. There was also an interesting study that revealed men who drank 3 cups of coffee per day had a decrease in cognitive decline. We know that coffee contains some powerful antioxidants and I much prefer that my clients choose coffee over soda or energy drinks to get their caffeine fix. I do notice that women in particular may metabolize caffeine differently when there is a hormonal shift afoot, so that might be worth tuning into and making adjustments as necessary.
Michelle Babb, MS, RD is a Bastyr-trained dietitian with a private practice in West Seattle. She specializes in weight loss, women's wellness and digestive disorders. Visit her website at www.eatplaybe.com