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Coffee: Is it Paleo?

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Founder of The Paleo Diet
July 11, 2013
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Caffiene | The Paleo Diet

Many people who switch to The Paleo Diet often find themselves questioning their ritual morning cup of coffee. With roughly 90% of the North American population consuming coffee on a daily basis you're left wondering if coffee is an acceptable drink to include in your Paleo menu.

What is Coffee?

Coffee is created by brewing the roasted seed or “bean” of one of the numerous species of Coffee trees (coffea). The trees tend to thrive in high elevation, tropical climates with fertile soil. Because the tree can often grow up to 30 feet in height, it is typically pruned at much shorter heights to ensure an easy harvest. The majority of the world’s coffee producers originate from countries located near the equator.

What Effect Does Coffee Have on the Human Body?

Caffeine is the main stimulant found in coffee. The consumption stimulates the central nervous system in humans and tends to ward off drowsiness. It also tends to act as a diuretic. Many heavy coffee drinkers report that their morning cup of Joe no longer gives them the same burst of energy that they experienced when they first developed their habit. In fact, many habitual coffee drinkers report suffering from sleep disturbances, headaches, and general “sluggish” behavior. This is often due to the fact that long term consumption has an exhaustion effect on the adrenal glands. It also hinders insulin sensitivity, which can lead to fatigue and headaches.

Should Coffee be a Part of a The Paleo Diet?

Coffee should be excluded by anyone seeking to achieve the most out of their Paleo lifestyle. The Paleo Diet focuses on eating nutrient dense, naturally occurring, anti-inflammatory foods that promote overall wellness and sustained levels of energy. Many people who switch to The Paleo Diet discover that their morning cup of black gold becomes a habit of the past. If you find yourself having a hard time quitting the coffee ritual, it might be helpful to incorporate moderate amounts of green tea which is slightly higher in antioxidants, and contains lower levels of caffeine.

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

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