Coffee and Pesticides

Nothing can beat the sound and smell of coffee brewing in the morning. The exhale of relief as those last drops land meaning its time to enjoy my morning cup of joe. Do you start your morning off with a piping hot cup of joe (also known as joy) or are your first sips full of pesticides? Unfortunately, those sips are probably full of pesticides. While a lot of attention goes to foods that are full of pesticides, coffee is often overlooked as a nonfood crop even though it is a heavily sprayed product.  Coffee and pesticides often go together. Approximately 90% of the coffee sold is non-organic, which means it’s likely your daily kick starter is harmful to your body. That’s a shame because there are many benefits to coffee.

You thought the only benefit is to get your day going? Nope! There’s more! It has numerous bioactivities and compounds that have surprising positive health impacts. Coffee is full of antioxidants and it is an easy way to get an abundant number of them into your daily diet. Drink them!  There are benefits to your cardiovascular system, for your blood sugar levels, for your liver, it’s anticarcinogenic, and it’s neural-protective. It may reduce your risk for depression or obesity. Overall, if you are a regular coffee drinker of 2-3 cups it can reduce your risk of death. (1)

Another cool thing about coffee is it drives things into the cells, ideally nutrients. So, what does that mean? If you drink your coffee with healthy, nutritious ingredients or a healthy breakfast all those nutrients will be absorbed more effectively by your cells.  If your coffee comes with pesticides, other toxins like mold, or even processed sugars people like to add to their coffee, then those will be driven into your cells. That makes coffee and pesticides a big problem.

Pesticides Have Harmful Effects

Studies have also shown that pesticides can mess with your gut by disrupting the flora in your microbiome and those who are exposed have less bacterial diversity in their gut. (2) Now, if you have been following The Wellness Way, you know how important the gut and a healthy microbiome are to your health. Your gut is key to your immune system and if your gut is off then it can open the door to a whole bunch of problems. That might be why studies have linked pesticides to a whole bunch of ill effects.

Certain pesticides have been linked to an increase risk in Parkinson’s disease and an increase in Alzheimer’s disease. (3, 4) Higher levels of organophosphates, a pesticide, in the urine of mothers and children has been linked to developmental problems. (5) Oh, but your kids aren’t drinking coffee? If it’s toxic for children, there is a good chance it’s toxic for adults. Those pesticides also impact sperm and male fertility, so that’s something to think about. (6)

I could go on and on about the adverse effects. There are more than 900 pesticides affecting 2600 products, like coffee, that people are using or ingesting every day. Pesticides are linked to a wide variety of illness and causes of death for those who have chronic or acute exposure including neurodegenerative disorders and various cancers. (4) An extensive study looked at the health effects of high pesticide exposure on farmers in China over 3 years and found there were long-term and short-term health effects impacting the white blood cells nervous system, liver and electrolytes. (7) If they can identify adverse health effects from pesticides over 3 years that are still used by farmers today, what long-term effects are we missing for the general public?

Coffee and pesticides

Coffee and Pesticides go Hand in Hand

As the adverse effects of pesticides are becoming known more are being banned in the U.S. How do we keep up with over 900 pesticides on the market? The pesticides that are banned in the U.S. only help for products that are grown in the U.S. While our pesticide use could be improved, not all countries have the same regulation and oversight that we have here, so pesticides banned here are still used on our products. (4)

The amount of pesticides has steadily grown since they have been introduced to farming.  Over 250 pounds of pesticides are used per acre of conventionally grown coffee. If there are so many harmful effects why don’t farmers make the change when growing coffee? Well, they aren’t well known in all areas of the world. Some countries and farming areas don’t have access to the internet to get the information as readily as our googling gets us the info.

It also comes down to money. There are more costs, obstacles of organic certification and there is less coffee yielded on an acre of organically farmed coffee. An organic farmer might get 285 pounds of coffee beans from an acre while his friend down the road using conventional farming practices can get 485 pounds. (8) If roasters and consumers aren’t willing to pay more, there is no strong incentive for farmers to grow it. While interest is growing, many farmers were burned in the early years of organic farming when it wasn’t as easy to make the switch to organic, and when they did the consumers weren’t willing to pay a premium.

Drink More Organic Coffee

Along with the health risks of pesticides there are also benefits to going organic. It’s better for the environment. Pesticides linger in the soil and the water supply for years. Also, organic farming has been shown to increase antioxidants and nutrients in organic crops. (9) Organic makes all those healthy benefits of coffee even stronger.

So, how do we make organic more available and make it easier for farmers to grow it? We buy it! Don’t worry, I have you covered with some of my favorite brands if you aren’t sure where to start. The ones I buy for my morning cup of joe are organic and mold- free because you have to worry about mold in coffee too. I don’t want a big heaping cup of pesticides, so I drink Bulletproof Coffee which is very popular around The Wellness Way. One of my local Montana faves is Cowgirl Coffee and you don’t have to be a local to get their coffee beans on their website. Keep it healthy with recipes that don’t include a lot of sugar and dairy. Try Tymberlynn’s Collagen Latte or this Happy Day Coffee Recipe.

Coffee has so many great health benefits. You can even use it in a coffee mask for great skin. Don’t miss out on the benefits because of some nasty pesticides. Start your morning right with a piping hot cup of organic joe.

Written by Dr. Jordan Biertzer

The Wellness Way- Flathead Valley

For more Info on Coffee Check Out Dr. Patrick’s Quick Tip:

Resources:

  1. http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/62/12/1043
  2. https://aem.asm.org/content/83/2/e02149-16.short
  3. https://academic.oup.com/toxsci/article/158/1/188/3782563
  4. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/15/8/1641/htm
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1867968/
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041008X03005532
  7. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0128766#sec018
  8. https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2010/0103/Organic-coffee-Why-Latin-America-s-farmers-are-abandoning-it
  9. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/02/18/467136329/is-organic-more-nutritious-new-study-adds-to-the-evidence



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