I Love Coffee, I Love Tea

So crooned the Inkspots in close harmony back in the 1940s.

But is it true…. then or now? So let’s take a look at the Java Jive along with a little bit of what you fancy….

While we may claim a ‘little bit of what you fancy does you good’, do we really believe it? Or are we chortling naughtily about sin as we smear our faces with chocolate cake to die for…?

Perhaps closer to the truth, but further away from our desires, is an unconscious belief we share, that anything that’s good to eat or drink has just got to be bad for us.

With the democratization of the cheaper of our vices, by which I mean food and drink (I could include rock n’ roll, but would have to exclude drugs and sex) we can now gorge ourselves to obesity on ‘tasty food’; read salt/sugar, or drink ourselves silly on blue-lip plonk or cheap spirits.

Given that we figure out that this is not exactly good for us and doesn’t actually make us feel too good about ourselves post-binge, where does that leave us?

What is good for us and how do we know?

We can’t trust Big Food or Big Mac. They’d sell us anything that adds to the girth of their bottom line. Neither doctors nor nutritionists can be relied upon. They can’t seem to make up their minds and what they said killed us in droves two decades ago they now tell us is a life saver…. and vice versa. There are thousands of medical research papers published every day, often contradictory. Only the brave or already convinced can put their faith in clinical research, even when it’s not commercially-driven or academically self-serving.

And here’s another given to be getting on with.

We live in a world awash, if not drowning in information - most of it free. That ought to make us better informed and it could, but in most cases doesn’t. It just makes it easier for someone to flog us a bum opinion or a shoddy good. Yes there’s more valid information out there, but we have to work at it wading through oceans of trash until eventually we find the clear lucid waters of the knowledge we seek.

What this is then, is a short-winded way to tell you that it is now OK to drink coffee. In fact it’s not just OK, it’s good for you and, the more you drink the better it is…. probably.

We know this because the US National Institutes of Health and prestigious New England Journal of Medicine tell us so. They know it because over 229,000 men and over 173,000 women were followed for 5.15 million ‘person’ years over a period of 13 years, and were found to live significantly longer than people who don’t drink coffee. In fact the more you drink the better. The risk for men of dying from any cause drinking 1 cup/day was reduced by 6%, 10% for 2 to 3 cups, 12% for 4 to 5 cups and 10% 6 cups or more. For women it was 5, 13 16 and 15% respectively.

In case you’re wondering why we haven’t spotted the sprightly form of a 270-year old Dr. Johnson emerging from a London coffee house waving his dictionary, it’s not because the coffee bean has suddenly become the key to immortality, a cure for all-known diseases including old age. No, what they mean is - it decreases our risk of dying prematurely from a whole grab bag of chronic killers like cardiac arrest, cancer, diabetes, etc.

The good news doesn’t stop there. More specifically you are 15% less likely to die of heart disease if you drink coffee compared to a non-drinker. Don’t worry too much about the caffeine. In limited quantities it’s good for you. Arterial negative effects are temporary and compensated by coffee’s antioxidant benefits and artery dilating effects. In any case, if too much coffee turns you into a gibbering speed freak, you can get all of the benefits with none of the downside with decaf.

Furthermore, coffee protects you against Metabolic Syndrome. If you don’t know what that is, it’s pretty much all the other nasty lifestyle chronic diseases that kill us before our time; i.e. abdominal obesity, hypertension, elevated cholesterol, insulin resistance leading to increased risk of dying from heart disease, diabetes, cognitive decline, liver and kidney cancers.

So there you have it. Once thought to be harmful or neutral at best, very large and powerful studies involving millions of people now show us that coffee is in fact - rather good for us.

But…. and there always is a but; if you are a gout sufferer you need to take into account that coffee drinking increases uric acid levels. But then again - there’s a simple answer for that too: down a couple of tart cherry juice chasers following a coffee binge.

More to the point, it’s coffee that has all these good effects. That means real fresh coffee, not some awful processed ersatz version. Nor is it milk. So if like me, its black tea first thing, café au lait by the bowl for breakfast, black tea for tea and espresso (alas rarely nowadays and only after lunch or dinner), you better make sure that it’s fresh organic raw milk.

And where do you get that I’d like to know?

Real milk is virtually unobtainable in most jurisdictions, criminal in some. If you even think of putting UHT milk in your coffee you don’t deserve to partake of coffee’s newfound life-giving benefits.

Shopping Punitively

Fact is, a remarkable and welcome bout of nutritional common sense seems to have broken out across the world. That, or the long-suffering public is finally rebelling against the medico/statist-corporatist conspiracy to have us eat crap food so the aliens can take over.

In short order, so long as what we eat is real, not processed, unchemicalised, not industrially raised or manufactured, we now know it’s OK to eat saturated fats in moderation. Red meat, almost any ‘naturally’ raised meat, is good. Eggs won’t kill you, in fact they’re chock full of nutrients you need. Ditto dairy, butter and cheese. Actually, any food that is real is good for us. Some of us may have to ease up a bit on the complex carbs, even if it is ‘real’ whole grain bread or pasta. When it comes down to it, very few of us actually do have celiac disease or are lactose intolerant, we’ve been psyched into it. Make sure to use only real oils. Just in case anyone’s in doubt, Canola isn’t ‘real’. Refined sugar must be avoided, so get your sweet fix from natural sugar in the form of fruit. If you can afford it the mantra should be:

fresh is best, organic is good – all else is a compromise and false economy.

In fact if we want to bring real food prices down, all that’s required of us is to take a pass on the fake foods from Big Food et al. That’s pretty much anything you’ll find in a store in a packet with a bucolic picture and a promotional budget over a million USD. These are not food; they are industrialized facsimiles without nutritional merit. They are not intended to enslave you or to kill you, though they can contribute to both. No, these people are doing it for the money. So punish them, don’t buy their stuff. That’s the easy bit. In time it may even pay them to sell us real food, but that day has not come yet. So until it does – practice punitive shopping but… make it easy on yourself, only do it when it suits you.

The hard part is, how do we find real food?

They, I mean the money grubbing titans who sell us over 50% of everything we consume or drink that is debased and unnatural have had things pretty much their way for too long. That’s not going to change unless we become more conscious about what we buy and put in our mouths. If real food is where the money is, then the money grubbing titans will follow (Rule 1, Batten’s Economics 101).

Go to it. Increasing numbers of us are already pretty bloody-minded about what we will and won’t eat, and real food is all around us if we bother to look. No need for zealotry or even deny yourself much - the unwillingness to be taken for a patsy will do nicely.