I recently contacted Dr. Pam Popper to get her stance on coffee. I am constantly hearing conflicting reports through the media and wanted to get some clarification on the matter from a top physician in the country. Dr. Popper is a pH.D and N.D. and also serves on the Physician’s Steering Committee for the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington D.C. She is author of many nutritional books (her most recent, Solving America’s Health Crisis) and through her own website, the Wellness Forum, offers various classes on nutrition. Here is her response to me:
The myth that coffee is a “health food” is perpetuated by poorly designed studies, and misreporting. For example, it was widely reported that a scientist made a presentation to the American Chemical Society recommending coffee as a source of antioxidants in the diet. In the actual presentation, the scientist said that the American diet was so terrible, that coffee had become a principal source of antioxidants in the diet. He used a chart to show that there were lots of foods that were more antioxidant-dense, but the point was that Americans were not eating enough of these foods.
I don’t hassle people who are compliant with all of my other dietary recommendations if they want to include a morning cup of coffee in their routine. But, I am clear that caffeine is a drug, that using it regularly can mask signs of fatigue and the body’s need for rest; that it is addictive, it dehydrates, and that there are some people who should never have it (those with hypertension or those who are really sensitive to the stimulant effect).
The best use for coffee is an occasional treat.