Coffee For The Health-Conscious Consumer
The year is 2020 and more people are hopping on the train of following health trends. Why? Well, who doesn’t want to feel great and energized everyday and be more healthy overall? While it may sound like you can easily make the decision to choose healthy options when eating and drinking, it in fact can be pretty difficult. We see fast food joints, restaurants, coffee shops and so much more on just about every corner when we’re out and about. Of course, if you are hungry or thirsty and one of these places is right at your convenience, you are more than likely going to stop to grab something and continue on with your busy day. When you’re in need of a pick me up from some coffee, are you going to grab something convenient if it’s right within reach? Will you be more likely to splurge and get something unhealthy because the menu says it’s seasonal, new, part of a deal or simply makes it look too tasty to resist?
As a coffee consumer you may want to learn more about how you can choose the right options to align with your health goals. You may be trying to get better sleep, be more naturally energized, you’re dieting, looking for organic options, etc. Whatever it may be, here are some things to think about to be a health-conscious coffee consumer.
Timing Your Coffee Consumption
One of the most important parts of staying healthy is getting enough sleep. Many health problems are related to getting inadequate amounts of sleep, so it’s best to stay on top of it and be aware of your habits. If you’re staying awake too late because of a lasting caffeine buzz late into the night it’s harder to get the sleep you need. Some may say you shouldn’t drink any caffeine after 4:00 pm. Others may say cut it off by 2:00 pm. There may even be some who say get your fix of caffeine whenever you need it, even if that means it’s 10:00 at night. As a college student, I can say that it’s definitely okay to get that late night caffeine kick on a rare occasion if you need the energy to get work done and meet a deadline. Just make sure to get back into a normal rhythm as soon as you can so it doesn’t become a habit.
The bottom line is that you can do whatever you figure out is good for your well-being, but make sure to be aware of the effects your caffeine intake has on your sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant, and even if you start to feel some physical effects wear off, your internal system may be in a sense of heightened alertness far past when you want it to. If this is the case, you will find yourself completely awake while laying in your dark room trying to shut down for the day. If you want to drink coffee simply because you enjoy the taste, opt for decaf if it’s starting to get late into the afternoon or evening. If you typically drink more than one caffeinated beverage, try cutting down to one. There are many small ways that you can start to change how your caffeine intake affects your sleep.
Incorporating Various Ingredients
There are a lot of ingredients that could be in your coffee order that might be holding you back from your health goals. If you’re dieting for any reason, trying to lose weight or trying to keep it off, it is important to keep the calories, sugar and fat low. Additionally, you may have allergies to certain ingredients whether you’re aware of them or not.
Sugar is one of the tough ingredients. It can be found in just about everything. Sugar is high in fructose and can create some issues. Excess amounts of sugar can lead to the collection of fat, and a long term excess can sometimes lead to obesity or diabetes to name a few. Now this doesn’t mean you need to cut the sugary frappuccinos out altogether. A few don’t hurt, and you most likely don’t have to worry about becoming overweight from your coffee alone. Just make sure to switch it up and get something on the less sugary side sometimes or take a few days off from consuming any sugary beverage. Artificial sweeteners can help lower calories, but the long term effects can also be damaging and many people believe the extensive use of artificial sugar can be linked to a higher risk of cancer. At many coffee shops, you can ask for a natural sweetener to be put into your drink instead, or you can get it completely sugar free.
Fat is another component that you might want to be aware of. If you like drinks with a lot of cream, fat will be much more present in your drink than in a drink like black coffee or an americano. Just like with the sugar you don’t have to completely cut out drinking beverages with some higher fat concentrations. Make sure to limit your intake and be aware of it. Some people opt for an artificial creamer, just like artificial sugar. There are not as many conclusive studies on the long-term effects of artificial creamer, so it’s best to stay away when possible. Although there may be more fat and calories than you want in a milk product mixed into your coffee, there are other health benefits such as receiving the calcium your body needs to build strong bones and keep your heart and muscles functioning properly.
Now what if your coffee order makes you feel sick in some type of way? You might be trying many different beverages at different places in hopes of finding one that you can stomach, but maybe you feel like you’re out of luck. This is where we talk alternatives, specifically with milk. Oat milk and almond milk are widely available at coffee shops, and if you have any degree of lactose intolerance, substituting for one of these could help you out. Even if you don’t think you’re lactose intolerant, it doesn’t hurt to try! You might find that you like a new alternative anyway. Other alternatives that can be offered include cashew milk, coconut milk, rice milk and soy milk. If you try something new and end up feeling better, you’re another step closer to being a happier and healthier you.
Coffee and anxiety
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Anxiety is a common mental health issue people face, and coffee consumption, or caffeine in general, can actually be related to it. This is because caffeine is a stimulant that speeds up bodily functions. Consuming more than roughly two cups of coffee in a day can be enough caffeine to catalyze feelings that mimic anxiety, such as faster breathing, rapid heartbeat, or headaches. Sometimes a high consumption of caffeine can result in panic attacks. Do not worry, though. If you drink two or more cups of coffee often and do not experience any feelings of anxiety, you won’t suddenly start to. You know your body best, so do whatever feels good for you. If you do experience anxiety with or without coffee, it may be beneficial to try reducing your intake and make note of how your physical and mental feelings change, though.
In a world of an increasing focus on living healthier lifestyles, consumers are looking for more ways than ever to be good to their bodies. For those of you who want to do this while enjoying coffee, you’ve come to the right place to at least get a good start. The first step is simply being more conscious of what may be good and bad for your body, and what you decide to put in it. From there, you could decide to focus on better sleep, better ingredients, better mental health and so much more. Hopefully you are able to find one aspect to focus on the next time you enjoy a caffeinated beverage and begin the journey towards being your best self!
-Written by my friend, Lauren
Hey There Coffee Addicts,
I hope you’ve all had a good week. I’ve never really thought about what’s in my coffee, just how it tastes. Lauren did a great job of highlighting being mindful of what you consume and when you consume it. The cool thing is this can apply for more than just coffee!
As always, I hope you learned a thing or two from the blog today.
Have a fantastic Labor Day weekend.
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