Attention Coffee Lovers, Haters and Phobics!

So, is coffee good for you? Or bad?

Since there is so much debate around this topic, I decided to write about it from a personal and professional standpoint.

Caffeine is probably the most frequently ingested pharmacologically active substance in the world.

I never liked the taste of it. I loved the smell and would sit in coffee shops, inhale the coffee aromas ..and drink green tea. I dabbled a little with coffee when I was an undergrad student, thanks to a roommate and her coffee machine. Although it got me through some late nights, I stopped soon after because it gave me gastric distress. But I was not consuming as healthy a diet as I do now: too many carbs, not enough protein etc and probably a leaky gut. I barely touched coffee again until after I graduated from Chiropractic College and craved something warm in the cold New York climate; and that was just a weekly indulgence! Today I drink coffee approximately 1-2 cups, maybe 4 days a week with no adverse symptoms.

My logic behind drinking coffee:

  • I’m investing in my long term sanity and mental function: Coffee contributes to long term brain protection and prevention of Alzheimer’s: Coffee activates the Nrf2 Pathway (antioxidant response pathway) that governs my antioxidant protection, detoxification and genetic expression for cellular defense. It activates my genes that make antioxidants, such as the powerful glutathione and superoxide dismutase.  Dr. David Perlmutter is a big supporter of caffeine consumption, gluten free and grain free diets for brain health and wrote about it in his book, “Grain Brain”.
  • Coffee can also prevent dementia: In the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, September 20, 2009, a study found that mid-life coffee consumption can lower dementia/Alzheimer’s risk in late-life. The lowest risk was found in those who consumed 3-5 cups per day.
  • I’m protecting my gut (the seat of our immune system). Yes, believe it or not: activating the Nrf2 Pathway also creates a healthy environment for your gut flora and reduces leaky gut. Dr. Perlmutter talks about this in the “Grain Brain: book and expands on this theory in his new release “Brain Maker”.
  • If I feel a headache starting (which is rare for me now), coffee can prevent a full blown debilitating attack so I can continue my day – hence an emergency trip to nearest coffee shop – unlikely organic but oh well, the caffeine benefits outweigh the toxic exposure in this case.
  • Pre-workout: Caffeine increases availability of muscle glucose, hence I experience better endurance, especially when I am running or hiking.
  • Post –workout: 2008 Australian Study by researchers at RMIT University found that taking caffeine after endurance workouts may shorten your recovery time. (I experienced that first hand last month)


Now, I’m not talking about your latte, macchiato and other fancy Cups of Joe! Just plain, unadulterated coffee!

In my opinion, here’s the healthiest way to consume coffee:

  • Freshly brewed
  • Organic: the coffee bean plant is known to saturate chemicals from herbicides and pesticides more intensely than other crops.
  • Black. No dairy, no creamer. Sometimes I would indulge in a little non-dairy coconut creamer or almond milk.
  • NOT on an empty stomach- I make sure I have some protein/fat based food beforehand- even if it’s just half a protein bar.
  • Combined with fats: I add a tablespoon of coconut oil to my cup whenever possible. I read recently you can add butter (another healthy fat, however I would recommend ghee, or clarified butter)
  • Sweetened? Well, I need a little sweet so if you can’t handle the bitterness either add a minimal amount of organic coconut sugar or pure stevia.

So, do you need coffee for these health benefits?

Not necessarily. This article may give you a little peace of mind if you like coffee but were afraid to enjoy it. However, consume carefully! I’m not giving you a reason to binge on your favorite brew! Over indulgence can pose a risk for disturbed sleep, jitters, heart palpitations, birth defects (if consumed pre-conception and pre-natally). Know your limits and listen to your body!  Always check with your physician first before jumping into this neuro-protective practice or any supplementation for that matter.

And that valuable Nrf2 Pathway?

Coffee isn’t the only substance that upregulates it. Research is finding that green tea, sulforaphanes (broccoli extract), and turmeric also play a significant role in the Nrf2 upregulation.

There are many supplements on the market making claims of Nrf2 Pathway activation. I carefully choose supplements and products after thorough evaluation and consideration to ensure authenticity, sufficient therapeutic strength and simply a clean list of ingredients. If you are interested in Nrf2 upregulation supplementation please contact me at

 Disclaimer: The contents of this article and all pages throughout this website (text, graphics and images) are not to be construed as medical advice or recommendations. Please consult with your own physician before implementing any new protocols, supplements or treatments. This information is displayed for informational purposes only.

Here I am last January, tasting various brews of traditional cofffee in Bali.  I even braved the famous Luwak coffee, where the beans are digested by the Mongoose Cat (not so bad!) Stay tuned for more interesting facts and a video in a future article!

Dr. Melanie visits Subak Bali Agro during a road trip in Bali for a traditional coffee tasting.
Dr. Melanie visits Subak Bali Agro during a road trip in Bali for a traditional coffee tasting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *