This article was originally written for the Katy Trail Weekly newspaper.
When I moved to Dallas the Labor Day before pandemic hit, I picked up a new habit. I would grab coffee from a spot below my apartment complex instead of making my own. I thought nothing of it at the time, albeit guilt for handing over all of that cash for something I could have easily made in my apartment, but the novelty of it was everything.
New coffee joint.
It gave me happy vibes…
Until it did not.
“America runs on Dunkin’” they say, (just perhaps not in the state of Texas). The city of Dallas has over one hundred Starbucks, alone.
Six out of ten Americans drink coffee daily.
The average American drinks roughly 3 cups of coffee a day.
I am more of a “one cup” kind of girl, but three weeks into my new coffee routine, I was on a light jog and noticed my knees were oddly achey. A few days later the pain could not be ignored and it had traveled to my shoulders and elbows. As an active person with a relatively anti-inflammatory, vegetable-based diet, I was perturbed.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to something it does not like— a stressor, pathogen, or toxin.
Inflammation is the body’s effort to quickly heal and necessary for healthy tissue repair. It is common, for instance, to notice swelling after a workout as the body attempts to repair a stressed muscle and heal itself.
Inflammation is healthy.
Chronic inflammation is the issue.
Considered the root of many diseases, including mental health issues, gut and auto-immune disorders, inflammation that continuously creeps in, or never dissipates, is a sign of a march larger issue, so before you chock up your symptoms to “genetics,” let’s discuss one of America’s favorite beverages— Coffee.
There will always be a debate over whether coffee is beneficial, or detrimental. There are many studies touting coffee’s various health benefits, while others declare its negative health impacts. Coffee is a drug, but it is not actually the bean that is the issue for most health experts, it is how coffee comes to be.
If you are shopping organic but sipping a non-organic coffee, it might sting a little to learn that coffee beans are the number one highest sprayed crop in the world.
Coffee beans are the number one highest sprayed crop in the world.
Many of these pesticides and insecticides sprayed directly on the crops end up in the coffee that we drink. There is no set limit for pesticide residue and no monitoring of the amount of pesticides used. Two of these chemicals (aflatoxin and ochratoxin) have been found in higher amounts in decaf. These chemicals cause cell mutation and organ toxicity in humans.
Flash forward: Guess what? When I switched back to my homemade organic coffee, my “arthritis-like” symptoms immediately went away. Awesome, right? However, toxicity in coffee goes beyond just a little “joint pain.” Toxins, are stored in the human tissues and fat cells, where they can lie dormant, protecting the vital organs from immediate damage. This storage can also make it difficult for people to loose stubborn weight, not to mention suffer “mysterious” symptoms down the road. Mood swings. Anxiety. Depression. Hormonal imbalances… etc. can all be a symptom of toxicity.
But wait… there is more!
In addition to pesticides, mycotoxins, produced by certain types of molds (including those found on coffee beans) play a big part is terrorizing the body. Dave Asprey, Founder of “The Bulletproof Diet,” says: “When naturally processed, the beans sit outside, where they collect bird feces and other debris and grow mold.”
My first response was to gasp, “Mold?! Oh no! Yuck!”
The truth is, mold is everywhere. It is not something that can be completely avoided. It is often commonly found in “wheat, corn, and other grains, but peanuts, fruits and chocolate, and wine are often tainted with mold toxins, too,” Asprey says. Peanuts are a legume I ask my clients to avoid and limit due to heavy mold contamination (and sluggish digestion), but coffee was something I had not placed emphasis on until I could not jog that fated morning.
Coffee lovers, it is not all doom and gloom. I am sipping on a cup of mold and pesticide tested coffee as I write this. For better health, skip the Starbucks and choose organic coffee beans to limit and reduce pesticide exposure, or choose beans with organic practices. There are several gems in Dallas that serve up “better for you” coffee. Brewed + Pressed and The Gem, are the first that comes to mind. The Whole Foods coffee bar sells organic brews, as well.
Skip the decaf. Asprey of Bulletproof says, “Caffeine is a natural anti-insect and anti-fungal defense mechanism for the plant. It deters mold and other organisms from growing on the beans.” Therefore, regular coffee would be preferred to decaf.
Next up, if you have any health complications, whether you suffer from depression, arthritis, or an auto-immune disease, it is best to be vigilant about mycotoxins when you can control it. To avoid/limit mycotoxin exposure, seek out brands like Bulletproof Coffee, or Dynamize Coffee— two brands that actually test for mold.
Happy sipping and before you get your panties in a bunch and start throwing Starbucks napkins at me… Try switching up your coffee game and letting me know how that works for ya.