Amongst my friends I’m known as a bit of a tea fanatic… In fact I’ve got a whole cupboard of teas ~ green teas, white teas and pretty much any herbal tea you can think of – you name it and I’m very likely to have it.
It’s not always been this way; in my early twenties I was a definite coffee gal – in fact I’d drink cups and cups of thick, black coffee – after all it was an appetite suppressant and what’s more important in life than being a skinny minnie…? Then I grew up a bit and realised that a lot was, actually – not least of all, my health.
And so, learning that “coffee was bad for you”, I kicked it entirely out of my life about 7 years ago… and literally didn’t drink a cup for a good five of those seven years. In the last couple of years, I would very occasionally drink a coffee “as a treat” – but we’re still only talking a cup every month or so… but, as you might have cottoned on, I’ve been reading everything and anything related to diabetes and blood sugars the last six months or so; and coffee, like a zillion other things out there, aren’t so straight cut as falling into the “bad” or “good” camp.
Here’s briefly what I’ve discovered:
It turns out one of the big problems with the wrong kind of coffee is that it comes tainted with moulds and funguses. That’s where something called mycotoxins come from. Mycotoxins are bad for you, really bad.
Did you ever have a really bitter cup of coffee that you had to douse with sugar just so it’s palatable? The bitterness is mostly due to mycotoxins. The more bitter the coffee the more mycotoxins that are present.
Mycotoxins have potential to cause all kinds of health problems, including kidney disease, eye problems and high blood pressure, to name a few.
Whats worse is that:
Dry roasting process promotes mycotoxins (eek!)
Coffee cherries grow on trees and the coffee seeds inside the cherries need to be extracted before roasting. This is done by drying the whole coffee cherry in the sun until the fruit around the seeds deteriorate and the seeds are exposed. During the many weeks of this process mould and fungus form on the coffee cherries and seeds – and the moulds and fungus excrete the mycotoxins.
Some dry roasted coffees have more mycotoxins than others. The lower-quality, cheaper coffees are generally the highest in mycotoxins – this is because wet processing (explained below) is much more expensive that dry roasting.
Which is obviously not bloomin’ marvellous as most coffees are dry roasted…!
But, the good news is, that it’s not all bad…. y’see coffee is also chock full of antioxidants, and the antioxidants in coffee fight diseases, including:
- lower depression risk in women,
- reduce risk of prostate cancer,
- reduced risk of skin cancer,
- reduced risk of parkinson disease, Alzheimer’s disease and even reduce tooth decay.
Chlorgenic acids found in coffee also helps:
- reduce blood pressure, which can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease,
- improve blood vessel circulation,
- regulate blood sugar levels,
- protect from type 2 diabetes,
- encourages weight loss,
- and reduces oxidative stress (the thing that ages you)
So, what about coffee’s connection specifically with diabetes and blood sugar? Well:
Scientific studies have found that regular coffee consumption (with its chlorogenic acid content) lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 67%. (!!!) This appears to result from reduced levels of blood glucose, increased insulin sensitivity, and decreased storage of both fat and carbohydrate.
In one of a number of studies, a 2009 meta-analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine combined data on over 450,000 people and found that every additionalcupper day of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee lowered the risk of diabetes by 5to10%.
Many epidemiological studies show that the risk of diabetes drops directly according to the amount of coffee consumed. For instance, scientists found that overall risk is reduced by:
- 13% with one cup a day,
- 47% with 4 cups a day,
- 67% with 12 cups a day.
Scientists are beginning to learn how chlorogenic acid, a potent constituent of both raw and brewed coffee, can be directly tied to an anti-diabetic effect. Investigation has shown it substantially interferes with glucose synthesis and release in the body. It appears to accomplish this by inhibiting the pathway of glucose-6-phosphatase, a glucose-regulating enzyme, which in turn results in a reduction of sugar levels in the blood.
Chlorogenic acid also lessens the hyperglycemic peak associated with carbohydrate ingestion. This results in a downturn in insulin activity, and a reduced accumulation of adipose (fat-storing) tissue.
Unidentified compounds in coffee, as well as caffeine itself, may be boosting the preventive effect of chlorogenic acid against diabetes. Preliminary studies suggest that these chemicals may lower carbohydrate storage by 35% and improve insulin sensitivity.
So basically, this chlorogenic stuff in coffee is pretty groovy; but again, is mostly destroyed / negated through most processing methods. So, now you have all the background info, what to do? Well, three super important things:
- Ideally buy whole coffee beans and ground them yourself; as coffee starts to go rancid pretty rapidly after it’s ground;
- Again, ideally, buy shade grown coffee as it’s higher in antioxidants; though this information is tricky to ascertain;
- Choose single estate over blended coffee’s; as the latter tends to be even more susceptible to mould etc. Arabica coffee beans are generally considered a better option and highest in chlorogenic compounds;
- Most importantly: look for “wet milled process” coffee as it uses far less time (which is when the moulds form) and rinses the beans; lowering the mycotoxins.
I’ve yet to find a coffee that fits all of the criteria above in the UK, so currently use pre-ground coffee called Rich Rewards; I have to say it’s pretty tasty and does’t seem to cause me any problems.
Two caveats to all I’ve written above; if you’re very caffeine sensitive, then coffee may not suit you no matter what; though if you’re curious I’d still recommend giving it a try as it might be the mycotoxins you’re sensitive to. And lastly; large amounts of caffeine are known to be tough on the adrenals; if you know your adrenals aren’t the strongest, I would still go steady on coffee.
Phew, I know that was a lot to take in – but you can hopefully see why it’s not all that straightforward (whether to drink coffee or not) – and also why my lil head had been close to imploding many times on the quest to figure out how best to manage my blood sugars…!
Fruit, proteins, carbs – they all have similar “intricacies” to them; so I’ll be breaking down each one I think is important and sharing with you soon… but for now, I hope you’ve found this an interesting article; and hopefully you’re feeling pretty pleased that you can enjoy a cup or two of coffee without any guilt now! I’m sharing an amazing coffee recipe with you here too; it’s said to be super fat-burning; which, lets face it, even if health and happiness is a priority, a lil bit of added magical fat burning properties are always a bonus! ;-)
As always, let me know what you think… xo