How To Make Your Coffee Habit Healthier

Despite the myths, studies show coffee is actually good for you, helping to improve everything from cognition to athletic performance. But it can quickly become unhealthy, too – so if you can’t start your day without a caffeine fix, it pays to know how to make your coffee habit more nutritious. From stirring in superfood powders to the perils of plant-based milk, here’s what the experts recommend…

Don’t Make It Your First Drink

“Early morning is when your body’s natural level of cortisol, the stress hormone, is at its peak. This means you are primed for the fight-or-flight response. Adding caffeine at this point will further increase your cortisol levels. This will result in an anxious mind and unfocused, scattered energy, which isn’t a helpful start to the day. Instead, opt for a non-caffeinated hydrating drink and give yourself the luxury of a calm thinking space in which to write your to-do list. Your coffee will taste even better once you know what you’ve got planned ahead.” - Joe Welstead, former pro-athlete and founder of Motion Nutrition

Add Fat

“Including a source of fat or protein in your coffee will help slow down the absorption of caffeine into the bloodstream, which can help reduce jitters. MCT or coconut oil can be a useful way of doing this, but just be mindful of the high calorie content of these oils.” – Shelley Harvey, nutritionist

Take A Break

“There is a shortcut to feeling that full-on, energising effect of coffee: simply take a few days off it. Give your body one, two or four weeks off caffeine, and then re-introduce it in small doses: a single espresso, taken mid-morning. You’ll enjoy a whirlwind of energy and performance enhancement, without the need for a second, third or fourth cup.” – Joe 

Think About Blood Sugar

“While adding milk to your coffee can be a good way to slow the absorption of caffeine, milk can also raise blood sugar levels. Having a lot of milky coffee throughout the day can raise your blood sugar for an extended period, which over time can increase the risk of pre-diabetes. In that sense, you’d be better off drinking your coffee black.” – Shelley

Drink It Away From Meals

“You may be better off drinking your coffee in between meals to ensure you’re absorbing as many nutrients from your food as possible. The caffeine in coffee is a diuretic, meaning it increases urination. As B vitamins and vitamin C are water-soluble, these vitamins can be depleted through excess fluid loss. Some studies also show reduced absorption of iron and calcium when caffeine is consumed with a meal.” – Shelley

Go Pink

“Adding beetroot to your coffee may be a love/hate option, but beetroot lattes are becoming hugely popular. Beetroot juice is rich in nitrates, which helps stimulate nitric oxide production. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure, improves blood flow and has been shown to improve aerobic capacity. Beetroot is also packed with potassium, iron and vitamin C. You can find powders and beetroot blends at most supermarkets – they make a great caffeine-free option if you’re looking for a hot drink with a difference.” – Lily Soutter, nutritionist

Try to drink your coffee black. Having a lot of milky coffee throughout the day can raise your blood sugar for an extended period, which over time can increase the risk of pre-diabetes.
Shelley Harvey

Consider An Alternative

“Matcha is a great coffee substitute if it’s a caffeine fix you’re looking for. The caffeine in matcha is released more slowly so you won’t get the jitters, and it also contains l-theanine, an amino acid which promotes relaxation. You can buy matcha in powder and teabag form, but powder is more concentrated – matcha tea bags tend to contain normal green tea plus matcha. To make a matcha tea, add a teaspoon of matcha powder to a cup, add a drop of hot water and whisk until smooth, then top with hot water and whisk again. You can also make a matcha latte by doing the same but using hot milk instead of water.” – Shelley

Try An Immune Boost

“A medicinal mushroom powder is a great health boost to add to your coffee. Mushrooms are unique in that they are high in vitamin D, which is important for immune function, healthy bones, and mood. The addition of these types of medicinal mushrooms has also been shown to counteract the jittery effects that can come with coffee. There are many options on the market, but Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee Mix is consistently well-rated.” – Lily

Use It As A Digestif

“There are many studies showing there are benefits to drinking coffee, but these studies are not carried out on the milky dessert type coffees many of us drink. Kick a morning latte or cappuccino and go for an espresso or black coffee in a single shot drunk after a meal. A single shot of coffee drunk after a meal can help to balance blood sugar levels. Scientists have found that having a post-lunch espresso lowers blood sugar levels. The key component in coffee is chlorogenic acid, which reduces glucose absorption and enhances the way our body uses insulin. It can also re-focus the brain and prevent post-lunch fatigue.” – Kathryn Danzey, founder of Rejuvenated

Make It Less Acidic

“Some people are sensitive to coffee due to its acidity, which can irritate those with sensitive digestion. If this sounds familiar, go for a cold brew or golden coffee option, which can be five to six times less acidic than a normal brew.” – Tenna Anette, Purearth co-founder and raw food expert

Be Milk Savvy

“If you like a latte and are switching from cow’s milk to a plant-based milk, be aware that most plant milks don’t contain as much protein as cow’s milk – the only exception is soya milk, which contains a comparable amount. It’s also important to check if your particular brand of plant milk is fortified with vitamins and minerals to meet the levels provided in cow’s milk.” – Shelley

Remember It’s Antioxidant-Rich

“The total antioxidant content of a cup of coffee on average is 150-300mg per gram. It’s interesting to note that in the UK, the majority of our antioxidant intake comes from coffee. Although fruit and vegetables contain a much higher number of antioxidants, these aren’t consumed in the same volume as coffee.” – Shelley

 

Put a healthy spin on your cup of coffee with these SL-rated additions…

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