The Paleo diet is a long-term lifestyle choice that involves cutting out all processed foods and eating “like a caveman”. The motivation for this lifestyle choice is the idea that the human body is designed to eat a handful of food types, and the overly processed foods rich in grains and sugar that are commonplace today go against that design. By cutting out those products and eating the foods that hunter-gatherers would have had access to, we will enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
Does That Mean No More Coffee?
Many people say that they would go Paleo, but they “couldn’t live without” a particular food or drink, such as coffee, beer or a particular sweet treat. The good news, for coffee lovers at least, is that you can fit a cup of your favourite brew into the Paleo diet in good conscience.
Black, unsweetened teas and coffees are a perfect fit for the Paleo diet, and you can sweeten your drink with stevia or honey and even add coconut milk if you wish. As long as you aren’t adding artificial sweeteners, cane sugar or processed flavourings, your drink still counts as Paleo.
The Health Benefits of Coffee
Teas and coffees both contain a fairly large amount of caffeine. This is a natural stimulant which can act as a “pick-me-up” after a hard day or if you need to focus on some boring work. Caffeine is also a diuretic, but people who drink caffeinated beverages on a regular basis do not tend to experience the diuretic effect of the drink as strongly as someone who indulges only occasionally.
Drinking caffeinated beverages can help to improve your cognitive performance and your reaction times, as long as you are not using the drinks to stay awake late at night or allowing your caffeine “habit” to interfere with your sleep patterns. Drinking freshly ground coffees can also protect your liver and may reduce your risk of liver cancer. The grounds (not granules) contain powerful antioxidants which help to stave off the effects of aging and protect against cardiovascular disease.
It’s important to note that while there are some health benefits to drinking a morning cup of coffee, over-consumption can be dangerous. Caffeine consumption can trigger the release of cortisol, which leads to disturbed sleep patterns, weight gain and even a depressed immune system. The tannins in the drink can hinder iron consumption, which could be harmful if you are at risk of anaemia. In addition, some people find that caffeine decreases their insulin sensitivity, which increases their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. As with any other food or drink, moderation is key.
Instant vs. Freshly Ground
If you like a cup of Java or Costa Rican every morning, choose the freshly ground variety. Instant drinks contain potentially harmful substances such as acrylamide, which has been found to cause cancer in animals. The amount of acrylamide in instant coffees is very small, less than 500 parts per billion, but freshly ground coffees contain less than 20 parts per million, making them a better choice.