After-meal Coffee Advantages

By: Dr. Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Dr. Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM


Here are some of the coffee advantagesCoffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages on the planet, and extensive research has been done on the effects of coffee consumption. It’s known for its high level of caffeine, but other components of the popular drink may benefit your health. Some coffee advantages are tied to the time that you drink it, especially after a meal. Studies have shown that the high polyphenol content of coffee leads to a decrease in blood sugar spikes and decreased oxidative stress. It can even help regulate appetite.

Polyphenols in Coffee

Many studies have shown that regular coffee consumption lowers the risk of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, but what causes this decreased risk? Polyphenols include a variety of naturally‐occurring organic chemicals. Almost all plants contain polyphenols. Certain polyphenols have been linked to many health benefits through their antioxidant effects. The majority of polyphenols in coffee are from chlorogenic acid.

Studies have shown that consuming chlorogenic-acid‐rich coffee after a meal significantly reduced blood glucose levels following the meal. Moreover, flow-mediated dilation increased, which is an indicator of blood flow and vascular health. Finally, the antioxidant‐rich acid was found to increase appetite-regulating hormones and reduce oxidative stress.

Stabilizing Blood Glucose

Postprandial hyperglycemia refers to the blood sugar spike that occurs after consuming food. In a study that tested subjects’ blood sugar markers before and after a meal, it was found that when consuming coffee instead of a placebo following the meal, subjects had a less severe spike in blood glucose levels. Because of this effect, chlorogenic acid found in coffee may help prevent diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Increasing Appetite­-Regulating Hormones

Consuming coffee after a meal has also been shown to increase the presence of the appetite‐regulating hormone Glucagon‐like peptide 1 (GLP‐1). This hormone may be a key component for stabilizing blood sugar, as mentioned above. GLP‐1 plays a role in postprandial (after a meal) insulin secretion, hence its role in managing postprandial hyperglycemia. Insulin production and balance is incredibly important in maintaining a healthy metabolic system. Insulin is secreted into the bloodstream to stabilize sugars after consuming food. Thus, drinking coffee with or after a meal can help stabilize blood glucose and regulate appetite throughout the day. This may also help reduce reactive hypoglycemia. Reactive hypoglycemia occurs when there is a sudden drop in blood sugar levels. While glucose levels may still be within normal ranges, the sudden drop can cause a person to feel tired and fatigued after a meal. Coffee advantages, such as this, may help prevent unwanted weight gain, sugar cravings, mood swings, and fatigue.

Reducing Oxidative Stress

Many coffee advantagesFinally, studies have shown that consuming chlorogenic acid in coffee may reduce oxidative stress due to its antioxidant properties. Oxidative stress refers to the imbalance between damaging free radicals in the body and the body’s ability to mitigate the effects through neutralization of the free radicals. Oxidative stress burdens the entire body and can lead to inflammation and serious diseases. The antioxidant effects of chlorogenic acid help to neutralize free radicals. This effect may also be related to coffee’s properties of stabilizing blood sugar and improving cardiovascular function.

Coffee Advantages for Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

Chlorogenic acid’s effect on post-meal blood glucose is a key reason why coffee may help those with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). Adrenal fatigue refers to a number of debilitating symptoms that stem from overburdened adrenal glands. Chronic or recurring stress is one of the major causes of AFS, and leads to symptoms such as anxiety, achiness, weight gain, and fatigue. Many adults suffer from AFS to some degree, and dietary habits can have a huge effect on AFS symptoms.

Unstable blood glucose levels can put great stress on the adrenal glands, which is what ultimately leads to adrenal fatigue. Post-meal coffee offers the advantage of stabilizing blood sugar levels, thus reducing AFS symptoms such as fatigue and inflammation.

How the Effects of Post-Meal Coffee can Benefit the NeuroEndoMetabolic Stress Response

The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response refers to the total-body response that occurs when the body is under stress. Rather than viewing the body’s mechanisms as individual parts, the NEM Stress Response is a functional medicine model that recognizes that underlying imbalances throughout the entire body are the body’s responses to stressors and can be precursors to disease. This dynamic view of how the body deals with stress, and ultimately experiences adrenal exhaustion, explains how things like coffee can affect your health, even though it doesn’t seem to be directly related to your stress response.

The health of the metabolic system is strongly tied to how efficiently the body manages stress. The metabolic system accounts for the distribution of energy that the body’s cells receive, and a poor metabolic response can lead to inflammation, weight gain, and even diabetes in severe stages.

The effect of stabilizing blood sugar are coffee advantages that can help improve the metabolic response, a key player in the NEM Stress Response. Moreover, coffee’s anti‐inflammatory effects may benefit the inflammatory response, which is one of the metabolic responses in the NEM Stress Response.

The chlorogenic acid found in coffee improves the function of multiple systems in the NEM Stress Response, making it a useful tool in maintaining healthy stress management. However, there is one important property of coffee that should be addressed, especially for those suffering from AFS symptoms: caffeine.

Decaf Coffee as a Great Alternative

Stimulantion is one of the coffee advantagesThose suffering from AFS may know that high levels of caffeine can be counterproductive in the management of AFS symptoms. The caffeine content of coffee, and its stimulating effects on the body and adrenal glands, can often worsen adrenal fatigue. Stimulants increase the demand for hormone production by the adrenal glands, causing them to work harder when they are already fatigued. Overstimulation may also lead to more anxiety, heart palpitations, insomnia, overburdened adrenal glands, and a compromised NEM Stress Response. Often times, in advanced stages of adrenal fatigue, coffee can even precipitate crashes, as it stimulates the already exhausted adrenal glands. Thus, coffee should be drunk cautiously and judiciously. The more advanced the AFS, the greater the risk. Water is the best fluid for those in this situation. If you have to have coffee, consider decaf coffee as an alternative to regular coffee. Studies show that it’s not the caffeine in coffee, but the chlorogenic acid that is associated with the health benefits described above, so enjoying coffee without the caffeine kick may be the best way to reap the benefits of coffee advantages and antioxidants.

 
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


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3 Comments

  • Amyz says:

    I’ve read that decaf coffee can be worse for you than regular coffee due to the way it has been processed to remove the caffeine. Is this true?? Can you suggest a brand/ type that you would use?

    • Dorine Lam RDN says:

      Unfortunately, I don’t know what brand of decaf is good.

      For health wise, one cup of black coffee now and then should be ok if it doesn’t affect you negatively.

      Dorine Lam, RDN, MS, MPH
      Registered Dietitian and Senior Holistic Nutritionist

      • Jennifer DeFusco says:

        Swiss-water processed decaffeinated coffee is clean. No chemicals used.
        I find mine at local grocery stores which offer organic foods, or some organic coffee shops. Just make sure it’s labeled, “water processed decaf”.
        Some brand names offer this, some don’t.