How much coffee is too much? (Hormesis explained)
Did you know there's an optimal amount of most foods and drinks, after which point they might be harmful?
This concept is called hormesis (hor-mee-sis). There is a point at which most beneficial [foods, drinks, supplements, herbs] become harmful. This dose-dependent relationship with foods and nutrients is the threshold at which that which is helpful at smaller doses becomes harmful at larger doses.
Coffee is good for you?
Maybe. When it comes to coffee, if you can tolerate this source of caffeine, you may benefit from it, and go forth happily drinking it.
Caffeine has neuroprotective effects up to certain doses, and has been studied for decades in diseases like Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease. In one rat study, caffeine appeared to help preserve neurons in the substantia nigra, (the area in the brain affected in Parkinson's disease).
What about prevention?
Can coffee be used to support healthy nervous-system and cognitive function? Yes. A 2016 study found there was a"..."J-shaped" curve relationship of the risk of developing cognitive disorders with coffee consumption...", concluding that 1-2 cups of coffee was protective.
Caffeine supports healthy mitochondria, protects cells from oxidative stress, and supports brain health. BUT the key is not to drink it like my relatives do at family gatherings. 1-2 cups, if it feels good.
Organic vs non-organic
If you are enjoying coffee (and please, enjoy each cup like it's the only thing you've got going on that day), choose organic and fair-trade if possible. Why? Coffee has harmful effects when it's laden with pesticides. Supporting local farmers, healthy crop and soil production, and ensuring the compensation for their yields is fair, is an ethical standard you may choose to consider. Find a trusted, preferably local brand that guarantees quality roasts.
The optimal amount?
This has been shown via hormetic curves in research to be between 1-3 cups a day. The best idea is to note how your digestion feels, how well you sleep, your mood, and ability to cope with stress, when you consume 0-3 cups of coffee. Find your sweet spot. Most importantly, enjoy your coffee.
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