People frequently ask me if coffee is good for them. I wanted to unpack that question here and provide some information to help you determine if coffee (or caffeine) is good for YOU.
Coffee is NOT bad in itself. It has been shown through research to have many positive benefits to the body such as:
- Increased mental focus
- The antioxidants help with cellular repair
- Helps with strength, stamina, endurance
- Also, research has shown it helps reduce symptoms of: Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, Gout, Cirrhosis, and Heart Problems.
Coffee (or Caffeine) can cause some negative effects as well. Studies show that they can contribute to certain types of cancers, heart disease, heart palpitations, anxiety, mental confusion, feelings of overwhelming RACING THOUGHTS.
“Cut to the chase, Dr. Motley, should I drink coffee or no?”
Here is one basic rule to determine why you may feel great or horrible when you drink your morning coffee or tea. It is called the NAT1 Gene(N-Acetyl Transferase).
A defect or variant within this gene can keep a person from breaking down caffeine properly within the liver. If it is not broken down, then caffeine will build up and create anxiousness and racing thoughts. Those who have no defect in this gene will process caffeine fully and get all the great benefits.
Additionally, there are times when patients come in and say they have days they can drink coffee or tea, and some days they can’t. Why? Their liver has more capacity to break down caffeine certain days if there are not too many toxins or metabolites to break down that day.
For example, when I was facing Lyme infection, I could hardly drink any coffee, it made my symptoms worse. My body was busy fighting and detoxifying the infection, and it had little room to process additional caffeine. Now that the Lyme is gone, I can drink coffee and matcha with no problems.
If you find yourself feeling anxious or with racing thoughts when you drink coffee or tea, it may be something that you will want to avoid.
“But I can’t live without my coffee.”
If you find that you aren’t properly breaking down toxins and metabolites, here are some nutrients that support the NAT1 gene to achieve Methylation or proper support of the liver to help the body break down caffeine:
- N-Acetyl Cysteine aka NAC
- Herbals: Schisandra, Neem, Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Triphala
- B-Complex, B12 (adenosyl, hydroxy, and methylcobalamine).
Please remember these have helped patients in my office, but everyone is unique.
Getting a genetic test and info www.MTHFRSupport.com or www.maxgen.com are great information tools to find out more about this gene. Then you can take your info to a healthcare professional that specializes in functional medicine and ask them if they can help advise you which nutrients will support this gene. Once the gene’s expression is covered, and the body breaks down caffeine with the nutrients, you can break down caffeine.
What is the healthiest coffee to drink?
So glad you asked! I personally recommend that you look for a coffee that is organic and preferably a light roast which ensures the natural substances in the coffee are retained. Choosing a good organic source will prevent you from getting coffee that has mold in it. Many times mold toxins are present in old or inorganic coffee sources.
Pay attention to the amount of milk, cream, sugar, and syrup you add too - which can quickly make your coffee do more harm than good. It is preferable to drink your coffee black so that you can get full antioxidant benefits straight into your bloodstream. Some individuals use butter or ghee in their coffee (bulletproof) so that the fats carry the caffeine effect into the brain across the blood-brain barrier. This allows for the awakening effect of caffeine without the jitters.
Enjoy that cup in the morning with no more jitters or anxiety!
Illustration by @lindsayblaze