The most common question people ask me about coffee is, “Is there healthy coffee options, or is coffee bad for you in general?” I do not think that coffee is unhealthy in general, although it does have some negative effects on your body that require attention.

First, coffee is dehydrating. Regardless of what you read or see on TV, a cup of coffee does not count towards your daily minimum of eight 8oz glasses of clean water. I count a cup of coffee as a minus. If you drink two cups, add two cups of water. It really depends upon how much water is in the coffee that you are drinking. If you have a huge coffee mug it may have more water, or it may be stronger brew than what you would drink at home

I prefer to drink my coffee at home from a single cup brew station. I find that even if I try to brew up a smaller pot of coffee, I end up drinking more, eliminating any potential health benefits of coffee due to the greater quantity. Moderation is key here.

You also should be aware that if you drink a lot of caffeinated beverages and foods, including things like black tea, cola, and chocolate, then you may build up a mucus layer in your intestine that interferes with your ability to optimally absorb vitamins and minerals.

Another factor to consider is the extra stress hormone that coffee can release into your system. This hormone, known as cortisol, can prevent you from properly relaxing and cause your body to become overtaxed. In addition, this hormone, as well as the caffeine itself can interfere with your sleep. There is no such thing as healthy coffee if it prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep. You can try to avoid consuming any caffeinated beverages for three or four hours before bedtime, although for some people this still will not be enough and they may have to avoid any java jolt in the afternoon, or even cut it out completely.

Chemicals and Coffee

Most people who drink coffee do not really look closely at its source. Some experts estimate that up to 70% of the world's java bean supply is contaminated with chemicals, pesticides and gastro-intestinal irritants. There my be traces of thousands of different chemicals and known cancer-causing agents in some coffee supplies. Look at where your coffee comes from. Organic and fair trade coffee is available just about everywhere now.

Also, the first one or two cups from fresh ground coffee will contain the majority of the antioxident power. The next 6-10 cups in the pot will be more acidic and more likely to cause heartburn (especially if you are drinking your way down to the middle or the bottom of the pot). Contrary to some articles, these first couple of cups also contain the richest caffeine, so why not brew fresh ground short pots to get more benefit from now on?

There is also good evidence to support that coffee often harbours dangerous levels of mycotoxins. These toxins can lead to hypertension, kidney problems, brain fog and perhaps even brain damage and cancer rates, according to some researchers. Several studies show that 50-90% of coffee bean batches were contaminated with mycotoxins. You may be able to taste the difference, too. If the coffee tastes poorer or more bitter, it may be a moldy batch. This is one case where trusting your taste buds can really help out.

Other people may find that coffee irritates their digestion in general. If it “goes right through you” then you are probably losing more water and dehydrating yourself, as well as causing additional inflammation in your body which is very hard on your digestive tract as well as other organs such as your skin.

Look at your overall health and if you are not feeling well or sleeping well and you think that coffee may be a contributing factor, then really look at cutting back or eliminating it. You can add in tea (especially green tea) and as well as exercise to keep you alert. Some herbs and essential oils such as peppermint, are helpful in restoring alertness, too.

Coffee can also negatively affect both your complexion and digestion because it is habit forming. It is one thing to talk about having a cup of coffee and talking about the whether it is beneficial or harmful. There are lots of pros and cons. Many of us have caffeine dependency issues. If you are hooked on java then any issues that might be minor right now may just progress more and more until you have really serious health problems. If you drink coffee every day and your dose escalates over time, this can be a real problem.

If you find yourself hooked on caffeine with a habit that is growing out of control, the detox and withdrawal can be quite serious. The amount of stress it will put the body in can cause days of irritation and infammation to the body.

This really just scratches the surface of the potential problems with regarding coffee. While this article focuses on irritation and inflammation, there are lots of other factors like heart arrythmia and osteoporosis, as well as high blood pressure.

Coffee does have one "pro" as it relates to inflammation and irritation of the body and cells. It is rich in antioxidents that can protect the cells from free radical damage. At the same time, I think the effects of dehydration and stress hormone will damage the skin much more than any antioxident can insulate from.

The real question is not “is coffee bad for you,” but instead you should look at cutting back to a cup a day. Try to add in some green tea if you need a pick-me-up later in the day, or add in some exercise. IF you do end up drinking more than two cups of coffee a day, or large espresso drinks, then add in an appropriate amount of water to really ensure hydration and make it easy on your organs.