Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What's Your Poison

This is an excerpt (pg. 233) from Raw Food, Real World by Matthew Kenny and Sarma Melngailis. It is an amazing recipe book, but beyond that, it is filled with incredible "health" tips.

Cutting Out Coffee

It might be hard to picture beginning a morning or ending an evening meal without coffee. As a beverage, it really isn't that old: coffee was only first embraced in the thirteenth century by somnolent Arab monks who couldn't keep their minds on their prayers. From there, it was introduced to Europeans in the seventeenth century. Despite its common acceptance in our lives, coffee--and the caffeine it contains--might just be one of the biggest threats to our continued good health, both physical and mental.Stephen Cherniske, in his seminal book Caffeine Blues, calls caffeine a "biological poison used by plants as a pesticide," noting that "caffeine gives leaves and seeds a bitter taste, which discourages their consumption by insects and animals. If predators insist on eating a caffeine-containing plant, the caffeine can cause central nervous system disruptions and even lethal side effects. Most pests soon learn to leave the plant alone." (This is why; incidentally, it's dangerous for your pets to eat commercial chocolate, which can contain large amounts of caffeine.)Unfortunately, humans are the most persistent of pests, and we've found ways to make irresistibly palatable what is essentially a psychoactive drug that impairs us; the so-called "stimulating" effect of caffeine is merely your body stepping up the system to flush the poison out as quickly as possible. In fact, coffee beans were first employed as a drug to "detoxify" the sick. Caffeine has a similar chemical make-up to morphine, nicotine, and cocaine, to which very few of us with non-bling celeb status would be proud or solvent enough to admit an addiction. But it's not uncommon for us to claim that we can't function without our coffee.
Aside from being addictive, coffee is damaging to the liver, which has to detoxify the caffeine in it. Decaffeinated coffee is not an a-okay replacement. Decaf also contains a variety of damaging chemicals, including the same cancer-causing agents found in barbecued foods. And the decaffeinating process itself often uses chemicals.Still, if the necessary organs can process moderate amounts of caffeine and related substances, why should we go cold turkey on coffee? Perhaps because daily doses of caffeine have been implicated in the following: gastrointestinal disease, sleep disorders, malnutrition (it drains the kidneys of the ability to hold onto calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc), headaches and depression. Plus, every cup of coffee is a glass of body-refreshing water you didn't drink.


haleylang said...

I think I'm gonna cry (said clutching my morning cupajoe :) Seriously though, I'll work on that- some day. One bad habit at a time!

FitterTwit said...

I know... I quit drinking coffee, but that's not to say that I still don't splurge once in a while (freakin Starbucks!)