How Many Coffees A Day ?

8 May 2013 11:36 AMChristine Barnes

During their initial appointments, many of my patients express concern about changes in their lifestyle. “I know that “x” is not good for me” they say, which really translates as “I think its unhealthy but I don’t want to give “x” up”.


More often than not, I encourage my patients to stick with “x” for wellness reasons, even if it turns out to be some form of smoking substance. That can be a big surprise! However, I do discourage overuse, and I do try to introduce more appreciation of the benefits and qualities of “x”. Such is the case with coffee.

Coffee has a rich history of being popular yet at the same time frowned upon. The coffee houses of the 17th and 18th century in Europe were judged to be breeding grounds for political ferment by the establishment but were very popular with the public.


Today coffee is often frowned upon as a vice in certain health quarters. It has addictive qualities, can cause withdrawal headaches, and in excess can initiate anxiety and have some rather unfortunate side effects on the nervous system including tics, uncontrolled movements, and other negative outcomes. Heavy use can impact on anaemia, and cause deficiency of some minerals and B group vitamins. It is also not beneficial for sufferers of reflux or those with liver problems, arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, heart/cholesterol problems, diabetes, UTIs and PMS. It should certainly be avoided if blood pressure issues are being experienced, for coffee/caffeine can raise blood pressure. Coffee is acidic and so it promotes inflammation – again, something to avoid in the body. And to continue its bad qualities, coffee is also a diuretic. This means that for every cup of coffee drunk you need to drink another cup of water to make up for the fluid the body has lost whilst drinking the coffee. Many people use it as a stimulant and also to give them additional energy, though its overall effectiveness is open to question (abstinence from coffee might be more effective energy wise). And whilst there is no doubt re the stimulation aspect of coffee, it should be noted that the effects of caffeine stimulation can have a significant life measured in several hours, so its best not to have a coffee too close to going to bed as it will impact on quality of sleep.


If the coffee is made with milk, then there are all the additional negative aspects of milk to add to the above – and they are not insignificant, particularly on the digestive system! Sugar, artificial sweetener or agave are just plain bad – don’t go there, or wean yourself off them asap.

However, there are some wellness benefits – not the least being the social benefits of sharing a brew surrounded by friends and being part of the local community. If you enjoy your daily coffee, that enjoyment is worth a great deal and can be weighed against the negative health outcomes outlined above. On the other hand, you may find a cup of coffee the perfect catalyst for enjoyment of a quiet moment by yourself where you can re-charge the batteries ready for the chores ahead; also a very positive wellness experience.

I have one coffee a day, a very small piccolo. Rather than stay home with a trusty coffee machine, I take the time to touch base with my local community and to converse, or nod acquaintance with my favourite barista. I even drag my husband along with me, although he won’t drink coffee himself. Because its my only cup of the day, it has to be a really good one so I certainly put the barista under the pressure pump.

If you are going to drink coffee, let me offer a few guidelines to minimize the negative health impacts:-

  1. Limit to one cup a day.
  2. Value quality over quantity.
  3. Organically sourced.
  4. Not instant, not filtered.
  5. Consume a minimum of 10hrs prior to expected bedtime.
  6. Organic milk (if milk needed)
    1. Avoid if not able to digest – preferably eliminate, especially whilst being treated for any chronic illness as even mild intolerance can complicate the situation.
    2. Consider using organic home-made nut milks like almond milk.
    3. If you like soy milk, I recommend Bonsoy organic as it contains an algae that enhances digestion.
  7. No sugar or artificial sweeteners of any kind (including agave).
  8. Eliminate completely if you experience any sleep issues, tachycardia, nervous system imbalances or general agitation issues.
  9. Fair Trade if possible for a little more peace of mind.