Brewing Wellness: The Functional Medicine Perspective on Coffee

Brewing Wellness: The Functional Medicine Perspective on Coffee

Dr Will Cole

By Dr. Will Cole

In this special guest post, we are honored to have Dr. Will Cole, a trailblazer in the realm of functional medicine and a global telehealth pioneer. With accolades such as being one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Cole boasts a rich background in delving deep into the root causes of chronic diseases. He's not just a functional medicine heavyweight; he's also the host of the revered podcast, "The Art of Being Well," and has penned multiple bestsellers including "Intuitive Fasting" which clinched a spot on the New York Times bestseller list.

If there’s one thing that could unite people from all over the world, that would be coffee. This beloved beverage is embraced by cultures around the globe and is consumed on a daily basis by up to 65% of Americans and 40% of the world’s entire population. Not only does coffee taste delicious and offer us a much-needed energy boost to get through the day, but it also possesses a variety of health benefits that can support our vitality and longevity.

However, not all coffee is created equal. As a functional medicine practitioner, I have spent the last 10+ years consulting patients all around the world via my telehealth functional medicine clinic on how to overcome their symptoms naturally by identifying and addressing the root cause of their health problems. From autoimmune conditions to gut dysfunctions to hormone imbalances, I have seen firsthand the profound impact food has to either fuel health or feed disease - coffee included. So grab your favorite mug, and let’s take a deep dive into the wonderful world of coffee and its relationship to your health through the lens of functional medicine.

Why the type of coffee you drink matters

While coffee itself possesses a host of potential health benefits, the quality and sourcing of your brew can greatly impact its overall impact on your well-being. Especially if it is something you drink on a daily basis. Opting for high-quality, organic coffee ensures that you are not consuming harmful pesticides, herbicides, or other toxins that may be present in most conventional coffee beans.

In fact, coffee is one of the most likely foods to contain mycotoxins from mold since the roasting process isn’t enough to destroy them. That’s why it is crucial to look for organic coffee brands like Purity Coffee that are also labeled mold-free as mycotoxins have been linked to chronic inflammation and autoimmune conditions.

By selecting organic coffee, you are not only safeguarding yourself against potential chemical exposure but also supporting sustainable agricultural practices. Plus, organic coffee tends to just taste better and have richer flavors, so why wouldn’t you want to make the switch?

What are the health benefits of coffee?

With coffee being such a beloved beverage, researchers have long studied coffee’s impact on our health to determine just how much of this delicious drink we can enjoy. And thankfully, they’ve found some amazing reasons to pour ourselves another cup!

1. Coffee can lower inflammation
Studies have found that caffeine in coffee can block adenosine - the neurochemical that makes you sleepy - which also ends up blocking pathways that produce inflammatory molecules.

2. Coffee can increase longevity

If you want to live longer, make sure to drink your daily cup of coffee! Research has found that regular coffee consumption can enhance longevity by protecting against health problems like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and obesity.

3. Coffee can improve your memory

Drinking coffee has been shown to improve cognitive function and short-term memory, as well as decrease the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s by up to 65%!

My favorite ways to enjoy coffee

How you drink your coffee can also be just as important to your health as the type of coffee you drink. Next time you make yourself a cup, take these factors into consideration to sip your way to better health!

1. Be mindful of your sweeteners

It’s one thing to choose organic coffee, but if you are loading up your cup with heaps of processed sugar and syrups, it can be equally detrimental for your health. And don’t even get me started on those sugar-free sweeteners! Try swapping out your regular sugar for more gut-friendly options such as raw honey, pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, or stevia.

2. Experiment with homemade creamers

Most of the creamers you buy at the store are filled with sugar and all the unhealthy fake sweeteners you are trying to avoid. Not only does making your own homemade creamers give you control over what sweeteners you are using, it also allows you to choose healthier options for milk whether you use dairy-free oat, almond, or coconut milk or purchase organic, grass-fed dairy.

3. Top your coffee with cinnamon
One of my favorite secrets is adding a little cinnamon to the top of my coffee. Cinnamon has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels, which can be especially helpful if you struggle with blood sugar balance but still love a little sweetness in your coffee.

Things to consider

Thanks to bio-individuality, there is no universally healthy food or drink for everyone. That is especially true when it comes to coffee. If you have any one of the following health conditions, you may have to be more mindful when it comes to your coffee consumption. In my experience, it’s very rare that someone would need to cut out coffee altogether, but be aware that these conditions may impact how you react to drinking larger amounts of coffee.
1. Adrenal fatigue

While many of us turn to coffee to boost our energy, it can put strain on the adrenal glands by further increasing already high cortisol production for those with adrenal fatigue. Limiting coffee intake allows the adrenal glands to rest and recover to facilitate the healing process and support overall adrenal health.

2. Acid reflux

In a healthy individual, the body’s lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is responsible for preventing stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. But in the case of acid reflux, the LES doesn’t function properly to prevent the backflow of stomach acid. Coffee can be troublesome for those who struggle with acid reflux because the high levels of caffeine and chlorogenic acid content in coffee can weaken your body’s LES and stimulate the production of stomach acid, further perpetuating acid reflux symptoms.

3. Genetic variants

Known as the “caffeine gene,” CYP1A2 determines how quickly (or slowly) you metabolize caffeine. If you have two slow variants of this gene, you’re a slow metabolizer and at a higher risk for adverse effects from caffeine. For example, studies have found that slow metabolizers have a higher risk of heart attacks, digestive disorders, and cortisol spikes from drinking coffee. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to stop drinking coffee altogether, as those risks only increase with more than 2 cups of coffee per day. So how do you know if you’re a slow metabolizer? If coffee makes you feel jittery or anxious, chances are you don’t tolerate coffee as well as your fast metabolizing friends who feel minimal effects from a cup (or two!) of coffee.

If you are particularly sensitive to caffeine, I recommend adding a little coconut oil, ghee, or grass-fed butter to your cup of coffee, as these fats can slow down the absorption of caffeine to provide a more sustained release of energy and minimize any potential crash that might come later.

The Takeaway

In pursuing better health, reconsidering the type of coffee you drink and how you drink it can be a simple way to make a big change in your health for the better. By embracing organic varieties from brands like Purity Coffee that understand the impact these factors have on your health, you can sip with confidence, knowing that your choice aligns with your wellbeing and your tastebuds!


  • Dr. Linda Lancaster

    Hey Will
    I like using grass fed cream in my coffee and recommend to my patients in my book Harmonic Healing! BTW I also drink Purity cofffee and do add holi mane. It’s so nice to hear the positive effects of coffee! One of the few very bitter foods in our diet! Great work, warm regards Dr Linda Lancaster

  • Wanda Calvert

    At 88 been drinking coffee with no sugar or cream since around 18.I drink 2 cups per day and use best coffee I can buy. Recently discovered Purity coffee and will drink it rest of my life. I have histamine intolerance disease and very careful with what I drink and eat. Thanks to Purity coffee I believe I am putting less chemicals etc into my system. I do not add anything to my coffee such as sugar or cream. I also buy beans rather than ground coffee. No trouble to grind beans daily.

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