I recently heard some news about coffee. Something I kind of wish I didn't know. Ignorance is bliss.
Apparently, 10 percent of coffee is a protein that cross reacts with gluten antibodies. In other words, if you are sensitive to gluten, a cup of coffee will supposedly trigger the same reaction your body has to things like cupcakes, soy sauce and bread. We're not talking about caffeine here -- it is the coffee itself that is the problem.
This information came to me via my friend Lorrie, who read about it on the The Healthy Home Economist, who learned about it at PaleoFX. I went in search of more information, but aside from a post on Dr. Clark's Brain Based Blog and a few anecdotes ... nothing. No studies on PubMed. No articles in geeky science journals. Even the blogosphere is relatively silent on the matter. So, definitely not a lot of official evidence. But enough to pique my interest, and I started thinking long and hard about my coffee consumption. Do I drink too much coffee? Why do I drink it? How does it make me feel? And most importantly ... how would I feel if I didn't drink coffee? I decided to find out, and about three weeks ago I eliminated coffee for 10 days. This was huge for me, because at the time my coffee consumption was spiraling out of control. I was drinking three shots of espresso in the morning and following that up with iced coffee in the afternoon. Way. Too. Much.
I unplugged my beloved Nespresso Pixie, and switched to green tea. The first couple of days were tough -- not because of headaches (I didn't get them, fortunately), but because I enjoy the ritual of making coffee in the morning. After the initial shock wore off, though, I found a new rhythm and didn't even think about my espresso machine.
The no-coffee experiment is over now, and I wish I could say that cutting it out didn't change a thing. Actually, I wish I could say that I felt worse without out it. Because I love it. But the honest truth is those 10 days without coffee were .... good days. My biggest complaint when it comes to how certain things affect me is joint inflammation, and recently it seemed like inflammation was increasing rather than decreasing -- despite the fact that I was completely staying away from wheat and sugar. When I eliminated coffee, it didn't just improve a lot. It went away completely. 100% gone. I started drinking coffee again a week or so ago, and I am noticing a very strong correlation between how much coffee I drink and how my joints feel. For example, two days ago I did the whole espresso-in-the-AM + iced coffee in the afternoon thing and I regretted it. Yesterday, I had just one little shot of espresso and I felt much, much better.
Of course, this is just my own little non-scientific experiment and doesn't prove anything other than that for some reason I personally seem to feel better when I'm not gulping down insane amounts of coffee every day. However, I'm intrigued by how closely my outcome matches the claim. And I consider my sensitivity to gluten to be only minimal -- especially compared to some of my friends. How, I wonder, would eliminating coffee impact/benefit those who must stay away from gluten at all times, at all costs?
Anyway, I don't really know what I'm going to do with this information. Giving up coffee altogether doesn't sound like fun to me, but I could certainly stand to reduce my overall consumption. I have a feeling that limiting coffee to a few times a week would do the trick. Currently, I'm on the once-a-day plan -- but I keep thinking about how I felt during those 10 no-coffee days. Maybe I'll repeat the experiment and see where it takes me.
What do you think about the whole coffee/gluten theory? If you're a coffee drinker, what would it take to motivate you to quit? Would you give up coffee if you knew it would help you feel better? Does this mean coffee isn't Paleo?