Coffee has become everyone’s best friend over the past few years. People have different coffee rituals and enjoy the stimulating herb daily to stay energized and motivated. It has surpassed the number of tea drinkers worldwide and has become one of the most favored beverages. However, as per Ayurveda, there is a method to drink coffee just like any other product. So, even though we may not find extensive mention of coffee in Ayurvedic records, the teachings of Ayurveda and the basic principles of Ayurveda can be applied to how we consume coffee and make the most out of it.
Ayurveda recognizes the effects of coffee on the mind of a person. It attributes the following properties to coffee, some of which are apparent as soon as we taste it and some when it enters our system. Since Ayurveda suggests that every food or fruit has its own taste (Ras) and quality, it associates coffee with Tikta Ras (bitter taste), Kashya (astringent properties), and Katu (pungent properties). It is associated with Ushna (heat element) and is warm and dry.
According to Ayurveda, all plants have a purpose, and it views coffee as a medicine, and its effects and consumption should be monitored. Coffee promotes energy, and digestion and raises blood pressure.
Modern research suggests that there are several advantages of having a regulated amount of coffee, which include:
Coffee is the storehouse of polyphenol activity1. These are compounds that have high antioxidants that can help combat free radicals. Chlorogenic acid, or CGA, is the most abundant polyphenol found in the coffee bean that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties2.
Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant known for its ability to reduce fatigue and enhance energy levels3. A study highlighted that consuming caffeine increased time to exhaustion by 12%, and there was a significant drop in fatigue levels4.
Lower rates of depression5. According to several studies6, having a cup of coffee daily lowered the risk of depression by 8%.
Coffee contains caffeine7, which is associated with dilating blood vessels beneath the skin and improving overall blood flow. Thus using a scrub made of coffee can not only help reduce the appearance of cellulite on the skin but make it smoother.
Different dosha types react to coffee differently. Since it is a carrier of air and fire elements, it is essential to understand the effect of coffee on our doshas before consuming it.
Vata: Individuals with Vata dosha tend to be cooler in terms of body temperature and are prone to experiencing insomnia, forgetfulness, dehydration, dry hair, dry skin, gas-producing digestion, constipation, restlessness, or frazzled.
Since people with Vata dosha are prone to air imbalance, coffee's bitter and astringent qualities will only make it worse. Therefore, people with Vata dosha are advised not to consume coffee.
However, if they wish to consume coffee, they must have a cup of creamy and sweet as it will have a nourishing effect on the system. Similarly, they can add cardamom to their coffee as well.
Adding cardamom will not only add flavor to the coffee but also redirect the energy and movement of air. The vata anuloman (redirects the energy and movement of Vata) properties of cardamom can help people with Vata dosha enjoy coffee.
Adding healthy fat to coffee, like a half teaspoon of ghee or coconut oil, also known as bulletproof coffee, makes coffee nourishing and lubricating. This can also counter the dry and acidic effects of coffee.
Pitta: People with Pitta dosha tend to be hot in terms of temperature. People with pitta dosha are more prone to experiencing skin rashes, indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, agitated mood, irritation, etc. Therefore, according to Ayurveda, for people with Pitta dosha, coffee might not be their best option.
Ayurvedic experts suggest that having more than two cups of coffee can aggravate Pitta dosha and rev up acid and temper. Consuming multiple cups of coffee may cause heat to accumulate and increase the occurrence of redness, skin imbalances, anger, digestive discomfort, etc.
Therefore, people with Pitta dosha should add maple syrup or organic cane sugar to their coffee to balance the acidic qualities of coffee and offer a cooling effect and reduces imbalanced pitta. The same has been highlighted by a recent study8conducted by experts in UK and China.
Kapha: Individuals with Kapha dosha tend to feel heavy, have poor digestion, and are slow-moving. Such people are prone to a lack of motivation, feeling of being foggy-headed, water retention, weight gain, sinus congestion, etc.
Therefore, on paper, coffee may seem to be a fantastic tool for them to remain energized and stay stimulated. For people with Kapha dosha, coffee may help dry up some of the heavy, wet nature of the Kapha types and offer a medicinal boost to their metabolic function.
Ayurvedic experts recommend that people with Kapha dosha must opt for black coffee rather than adding milk or cream to it. While black coffee's drying and stimulating properties can help balance Kapha, adding milk can increase congestion and cause weight gain. People with Kapha can take 1 cup of coffee daily, but not more.
Timing your coffee intake: According to Ayurvedic experts, the best time to enjoy a cup of coffee is between 6 am and 10 am9. This is because, during this window, a person needs stimulation to ward off the feeling of being sluggish by stimulating the mind and Agni (digestive fire). This is a significant factor to remember
Control the amount of coffee: Ayurveda suggests a product can be a boon or curse depending on its usage. Excess of anything is not suitable for our bodies, the same applies to coffee. Having a cup of coffee a day can be healing, but gulping down cups of coffee can lead to overdosing on coffee.
This can lead to depletion of adrenals, dehydration, disrupted digestion, acidity, racing mind, and excessive secretion of stress emergency hormones, etc. Thus irrespective of the doshas, Ayurveda does not recommend consuming more than a cup of coffee daily. Modern-day research10 suggests that a person can consume around 400 mg of coffee daily and not more than that.
Slow down caffeine absorption: Slowing down the absorption of toxins and herbs can be done by adding fats like ghee, coconut oil, and good-quality butter. Ayurveda recommends using ingredients like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, etc., to blunt the dryness of caffeine. Thus by adding coconut oil, ghee, or good-quality butter, one can slow down the delivery of caffeine into the bloodstream and enhance the gut's health.
READ MORE: How to cut back on caffeine?
Try organic coffee: Conventional coffee cultivation makes use of multiple pesticides and chemicals to enhance production. Sometimes, the final product contains the remains of such chemicals. Therefore Ayurvedic experts recommend drinking organic coffee only as pesticide residues can form Ama (toxins or undigested food). These toxins can lead to diseases and disorders.
Coffee on a full or empty stomach: Having coffee on an empty stomach will amplify its effects. Since coffee has heating effects, consuming it on an empty stomach will lead to overheating of the body, disrupt digestion, increase acidity, etc. Therefore, experts recommend having food with coffee or having it after enjoying a healthy breakfast.
According to Ayurveda, all plants serve a purpose. Coffee, for that matter, stimulates energy and digestion and raises blood pressure. If consumed properly, a warm cup of coffee can offer more than just a boost of energy. Since people have a unique relationship with coffee and it has found a place on our tables, it is vital that when you have your cup of coffee, you do not overindulge, time it well, and enjoy it with a healthy meal.
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