One of the things I have learnt in the process of studying health; ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are very hard things to define. Instead of it being black and white there is a whole range of grey. What can be ‘good’ for one person can be ‘bad’ for another, and vice versa.

A lot of people ask me about coffee… “Is coffee bad for me?” Or more often “Please tell me coffee isn’t bad for me” From my point of view it depends on how much coffee you are drinking and why you are drinking it. Many people drink coffee to ‘get them through’ the idea being it gives you more energy to do the jobs you need to do. Most people are aware coffee is a stimulant. It stimulates energy and can also stimulate metabolism. But before you think ‘phew, it is good for me’ it depends on how you drink it.

We have discussed briefly in other columns how the body uses stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol to find energy when there is not enough coming in via food. This is at the expense of you – that is – those stress hormones can start to break down tissue to access energy. Not great for your long-term health if you are constantly relying on those stress hormones.

As I mentioned, coffee is a stimulant. If you have coffee on an empty stomach, or as an energy stopgap during the day, you are stimulating the use of the stress hormones to find energy for you. If however, you have your coffee with a meal, you are stimulating the digestion and use of the energy from the food you have eaten.

Coffee is one of those grey areas; it has good points and bad points. It is not good for everyone, but if you like coffee make sure you have something to eat with it.