Do you feel guilty when you indulge in chocolate or when you enjoy your regular cup of coffee? Good news! These foods can be part of a gut-healthy diet.
Chocolate and coffee are both rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are compounds that occur naturally in foods giving them their vibrant colours, and are best recognized for their antioxidant potential. Antioxidants are important to combat free-radical damage in the body, which are known to damage tissue and contribute to aging. But there is growing evidence that the polyphenols in chocolate and coffee benefit our gut microbiome.
You may have read about how harmful coffee is to your health. The reality is that most people drink too much coffee. Coffee can make you anxious and irritable, and affect your quality of sleep. It's addictive, and many people keep consuming it to ward off the withdrawal symptoms, which can include headache, sleepiness, irritability, and lack of concentration (just to name a few). Coffee can also be a trigger for high blood sugar, which is then followed by an insulin spike causing blood sugar to crash, causing more cravings for coffee (or something else that will raise blood sugars back up). Some people don't metabolize caffeine well, which explains why some people can have coffee after dinner without it affecting sleep, and others can't. Additionally coffee can contain toxins such as acrylamide and mycotoxins. HELP! There are definitely a lot of reasons to keep coffee out of your diet.
But if you metabolize it well, don't get jittery, and don't develop an addiction, you can savour a good quality cup of coffee in the morning with benefits to your gut. If you do experience the negative affects from caffeine, then a swiss water decaf coffee allows you the pleasure and aroma of a good cup of coffee without the chemicals that go into traditional decaffeination methods. Dave Asprey's Bulletproof coffee has a very low mycotoxin level, and is quality controlled to ensure these low levels. There is also a swiss water decaf variety available.
Chocolate on it's own has great health benefits, and is a rich source of minerals, especially magnesium. The problem is the sugar! If you've ever decided to sample some 100% baker's chocolate, you probably won't do it again. Without the sugar, it's not great stuff. You may already have noticed that health resources always talk about the benefits of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has less sugar and a greater percentage of cacao. It's that combination that is needed to get the health benefits. My favourite chocolates are those that use honey instead of other sugars. Honey is often tolerated well by people with gut associated health conditions. Two great brands made with honey include jkgourmet and Heavenly Organics. I like to make my own using cacao paste, cocao butter and honey - that way I can add in whatever nuts, seeds or dried fruit I feel like.
So rejoice, and indulge in good quality coffee and chocolate with the knowledge that it will make both you and your microbiome happy.
Happy, Healthy Eating!