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Drink up in 2023: Coffee and tea can be part of healthy diet

Many people are making resolutions to live healthier lifestyles in 2023. The good news is that giving up coffee or tea doesn’t need to be one of them. “They’re actually both incredibly good for you,” Dr. Steven Gundry says.

The biggest reason is that both coffee and tea are loaded with plant compounds called polyphenols.

“Those polyphenols are eaten by our gut bacteria; they’re pre-biotics,” Gundry said. “Polyphenols may be one of the keys to having a great gut microbiome. And Hippocrates, 2,500 years ago, the father of medicine, said, ‘All disease begins in the gut.’ And quite frankly, I believe that all disease begins and ends in the gut.”

Research shows polyphenols help prevent cancer and feed mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles in cells. Coffee generally contains more polyphenols than tea, but the polyphenol content in coffee varies according to the way it’s roasted.

“The light roast or the medium roast have the most benefits in terms of polyphenols,” he said. “The darker roasts, like French roast, that darkening process, that dark roasting process, virtually eliminates most of the beneficial polyphenols. In fact, one very large national brand, because of their dark roasting, virtually has no polyphenols in their coffee.

After coffee, for the most part, the highest polyphenol concentration is found in green tea, followed by black tea. It’s generally healthier if nothing is added to these drinks. “If you put any milk-based product like half-and-half, like plain old milk, it completely binds with the polyphenols in both tea and coffee and makes them pretty worthless for you.”

When it comes to sweetening beverages, Gundry advises avoiding pretty much every sweetener. “Well sugar, as most folks are beginning to realize, is one of the biggest health hazards there is, and that includes even fake sugars,” he said.

Natural ones, such as organic honey and sugar, can raise insulin levels and lead to weight gain. Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and sucralose, can contribute to an unhealthy gut microbiome and increase sugar cravings.

Too much caffeine can interfere with a good night’s sleep. So depending on the time of day, sometimes tea is the better choice. Black tea has more caffeine than green.  “I have three cups of coffee in the morning,” Gundry said “And then I switch over to tea and I have about five cups of tea.”

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