Friday, July 21, 2006

Coffee and fertility? You be the judge

Anyone remember that Woody Allen movie Sleeper? Where Allen is a health food store owner transported Rip Van Winkle-like into the future and he finds out that everything he thought was healthy was bad for him, and vice versa?

Early in my fertility research, coffee (and caffeine) kept coming up as one of the first things to eliminate in a fertility-friendly diet especially because it may be linked to early miscarriage as well. On one site, a doctor even joked that coffee is so bad for fertility, you can drink it for birth control. For some reason, I didn't buy that. Part of my writing ritual for years has been to make a fresh-ground, french-pressed (no dioxin-y filters) organic cuppa. Plus, it's soooo good, half a cup and I'm good (the rest goes into a glass tray for ice coffee cubes for later).

FertilityBitch conceived ON THE VERY FIRST TRY with her son in her mid-thirties as a daily coffee drinker. More recently, another friend who is in her late thirties just became pregnant--oops!--while guzzling coffee and on the pill and then drank even more (and still does) through her first trimester because she couldn't figure out why she was so tired.

I'm not saying, "Try this at home." I am saying, that I've always felt that personally small amounts of coffee (less than a cup a day) have very beneficial effects on my body and, er, elimination system, and is an awful nice way to start the day. And, with my friend on the pill (who's also an organic girl) as Exhibit A, you can see coffee does not always prevent fertility or necessarily always cause first-trimester miscarriage.

I can't help noting that in the 1950 edition of my physician father's Merck Manual, coffee enemas are listed as a valid medical treatment (perhaps along with things like cod liver oil, also ubiquitous back then, that have real benefits but have fallen by the wayside as irrelevant in our pharma-medico-industrialized medical culture).

One needs to keep in mind that studies almost always have flaws in the controls, as you can't control for everything. I remember the coffee = pancreatic cancer scare. But now they think certain plant-based chemicals in coffee cleanse the liver AND help prevent diabetes--that sounds like coffee, in some situations, can be very good to the pancreas.

I think one of the unknown variables is that they don't control for organic/not. Coffee that does not grow naturally under the canopy of trees (i.e., shade grown) needs tons and tons of fertilizer and pesticides, and without the complementary help of the trees, the soil poops out and you need MORE fertilizer, etc., which is why the concept of "shade grown," leaving the trees where they are instead of detroying them to grow the coffee with chemicals, is so beloved by us green types).

So if you like coffee try this: Himalayan Tea & Coffee Co. » Riverblends Coffee. Yes, it the world’s Northern-most grown coffee, and the product is a blend of Nepalese coffee with organic/fair trade Arabicas from Indonesia, Brazil, Columbia, Peru and Mexico. I tried Daurandi River Maoist blend (gotta love it), a nice dark roast with distinct chocolate and spice undertones.

Cool beans: the coffee from Nepal is fairly traded from small farming families and grown using ancient methods, which of course means without pesticides or herbicides.

Himalayan Tea and Coffee Co. is also developing community reforestation programs with these small farm families.


Anonymous said...

I've decided to mostly cut out coffee because I just don't know, and coffee does make me feel a bit wierd, or was that the milk and sugar and pesticides that I had with it as well? It's hard to say, but I've developed a happy routine of black tea in the morning, which feels like a more subtle jilt for my bod. Years ago, when I was macro for 6 months I know coffee was a no-no for my specific health concerns but I don't really know why. The macrobiotics did help my problem but it was to ascetic for a lifetime diet for me. I think the daily pleasures of something as simple as (half a cup!) of well-grown coffee have to be good for the mind and body!


GreenFertility said...

For some reason all the writers I know are into coffee--something about the aroma, taste, warmth, bitterness. And mostly everyone likes the really dark roasts--one friend gets cafe americano with 3 shots of espresso. There was a near riot at one of the writers' colonies over bad coffee. I'm a french-pressed black organic coffee sometimes with a smidge of chocolate. If you search on "dairy" on the blog, you'll find a myriad of reasons why milk isn't great for youro immune system and we know sugar isn't...

...daily pleasures add up to a whole lifetime!

thanks for writing, Alision!

Anonymous said...

I like it! Good job. Go on.

GreenFertility said...

thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

iagree with this ,small amounts of coffee have very beneficial effects on body and is an awful nice way to start the day. coffee does not always prevent fertility.
one year ago i stopped drinking coffee due to some health concerns,some days i took black tea in the morning, again shifted to coffee,iam taking half-cup of gourmet coffeeper day.

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Junebug said...

3 easy pregnancies and no miscarriages in 3 years and I am a big coffee drinker and fan! I certainly don't think coffee causes infertility, perhaps it even increases fertility! If you want to feel better about your coffee intake just read the following article.

GreenFertility said...

thanks! love to get input.