Bulletproof Coffee: Backfire or Bullseye?

1 year ago by in Think Tagged: , , ,
I’ve recently been following the pursuits of bio/life/health-hacker Dave Asprey. Too often health and happiness are deferred to established ‘standards’: supplements aren’t natural, eight hours of sleep is essential, meditation takes years to perfect, coffee is bad for you. Its refreshing to see someone using technology and extensive research to challenge these concepts. While I don’t doubt that our bodies will work at optimum replicating lifestyles that our pre-civilisation ancestors enjoyed, it is equally important to inovatively transcend their experiences and lifespans.
I have always loved coffee – the flavour, the high, the experience. On the other hand I’ve been equally wary of its purpoted negative effects: acidifying the stomach, crashes, a dieuretic, poor sleep, dry skin, the list goes on. This love combined with wariness has fostered an odd relationship with coffee. I’ll oscillate from phases of total rejection to phases of total addiction. After hearing about Dave Asprey’s brainchild, Bulletproof Coffee, I decided to give it a go in the hope of being able to have my cake (and coffee) and eat (drink) it too.
The premise of Bulletproof coffee is to start with mycotoxin-free beans. There are many who purport that the negative effects of coffee, such as the ‘crash’, are actually a result of fungal toxins which form on the beans during growing and processing. ‘Clean beans’ are produced through single-origin small crops and a mechanical drying process. Once a liquor of mycotoxin-free coffee has been brewed, it is blended with a tablespoon of grass-fed butter and two teaspoons of coconut oil. Yep, you read that right. This offers a rich texture and flavour, as well as delivering a potent dose of fat-soluble vitamins and energy. The combination of clean coffee and formidable fats makes it ‘bulletproof’.

Black Gold

But is coffee good for you? One study monitoring regular sources of dietaty antioxidants found that “the singular greatest contributor to the total antioxidant intake was coffee”, offering more than 10 times that of fruits, tea or wine 1. Another found that caffeic acid is a very effective antioxidant in all oxidant systems 2. It has to be noted that the highest antioxidant properties are found in medium-dark roasted coffees 3. In moderate amounts, the polyphenols in coffee have potential cardiovascular benefits related to LDL oxidation and lowering blood pressure 4. This is however a contentive issue, as coffee has also been shown to increase hypertension in stressed individuals or those who rarely drink coffee 5. Yet another study suggests that coffee consumption may help prevent several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and liver diseases 6. A Singaporean study found that regular coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes 7. Caffeine consumption has even been associated with weight loss through thermogenesis and fat oxidization 8. For a great infographic on the potential benefits of coffee, check out Happy To Serve You‘s great infographic.
Thanks to Happy To Serve You

Thanks to Happy To Serve You

 

It is also important to note that caffeine is strongly addictive, with people exhibiting “syndromes of intoxication, withdrawal and dependence” 9. Coffee and caffeine has also been attributed to contributing to adrenal fatigue and significantly related to elevated cortisol levels  10 11 12.
The fat component is introduced to incorporate high-vitamin fats to provide a base for energy and the myriad of benefits offered by coconut oil and grass-fed butter. Check out the infographics below for more.
Thanks to Care2Design

Thanks to Care2Design

Thanks to Bulletproofexec.com

Thanks to Bulletproofexec.com

A Ballistics Test

Intrigued by the possibility of justifying my love of coffee with its apparent health benefits, I ran a ballistics test on Bulletproof coffee. I spent a week drinking my standard brews (usually sourced from good cafes across town), then a week without coffee, then a week of Bulletproof coffee and then again a week without. I also tried blending my standard brews with butter and coconut oil to see if there was a difference.
With normal coffee, I get an exceptional ‘high’. Within minutes I have an ADD-like focus: very intent but jittery, jumping from topic to topic. It also acts as a significant bowel stimulant. The high slows down after about half an hour, and then seems to disappear. Two hours after drinking though, I experience a significant crash, losing motivation and concentration.
With normal coffee blended with butter and coconut oil, the crash was not as significant, while the ‘high’ was just the same.
The week off was hard. The first day I had horrible withdrawals such as a tension headache, sore shoulders, drowsiness, lack of focus and cravings. The second day was much better, and by the third I was functioning fine. I was without the productive buzz off the coffee, but also without the crash.
Then came Bulletproof coffee. The initial high is still there, but far less aggressive. My concentration and elevated mood also seems to endure longer. The delicate crash comes at least three to four hours after drinking, and more often than not it doesn’t come at all. I still get the same bowel and diuretic effects as standard coffee. The Upgraded beans are absolutely delicious in their own right, as is blending coffee with butter and coconut oil. Taking a week off from Bulletproof coffee exhibited similar withdrawals as standard coffee, although I didn’t have the same pains and tension.

Liquid Kevlar

In terms of taste and texture, Bulletproof is definitely my favourite style of coffee. And I feel the difference using mycotoxin-free beans.  However, it still is a diuretic and an intense stimulant which can promote dependence. Considering the positives brought by the black brew, and the marked improvement in experience going Bulletproof, I’m going to have my cake and eat it too.
1. Intakes of Antioxidants in Coffe, Wine, and Vegetables Are Correlated with plasma Carotenoids in Humans. 2004. A. Svilaas, et al. The Journal of Nutrition. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/3/562.short
2. Coffe as a source of antioxidants: An EPR study. 2009. V. Brezova, A. Slebodova and Andrej Stasko. Food Chemistry. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814608012454
3.Antioxidant Properties of Coffee Brews in relation to the Roasting Degree. 1997. M. Nicoli, et al. LWT – Food Science and Technology. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643896901814
4. Coffe and cardiovascular disease: In vitro, cellular, animal, and human studies. 2007. J. Bonita, et all. Pharmacological Research. http://www.cenegenicsfoundation.org/library/library_files/Coffee_and_cardiovascular_disease___In_vitro__cellular__animal__and_human_studies.pdf
5.Coffee and health: explaining conflucting results in hypertension. 2006. Journal of Human Hypertension. M. Hamer. http://www.nature.com/jhh/journal/v20/n12/full/1002076a.html
6. Coffee and Health: A Review of Recent Human Research. 2006. J. Higdon amd B. Frei. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408390500400009#.UclUn8jfjSg
7. Coffee, tea, and incident type 2 diabetes: the Singapore Chinese Health Study 1,2,3. 2008.A. Odegaard, et al. American Society for Clinical Nutrition. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/4/979.short
8. Body Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance in Relation to Habitual Caffeine Intake and Green Tea Supplementation. 2012. M. Westerterp-Plantenga, et al. Obesity A Research Journal. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2005.142/full
9.Strain, et al, 1994, from: Rational Addiction to Caffeine: And Analysis of Coffee Consumption. 1996. N. Olekalns and P. Bardsley. Jounral of Political Economy. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2138954?uid=362745341&uid=3737536&uid=2&uid=3&uid=20024&uid=67&uid=62&sid=21102430716091
10.Stress, adaption & adrenal fatigue. N.d. K. Leisegang. The South African Journal of Natural Medicine. http://www.naturalmedicine.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1775:stress-adaptation-a-adrenal-fatigue&catid=875:improving-health
11. Coffee, stress and cortisol in nursin staff. 2007. A. Harris, et al. Psychoneroendocrinology. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306453007000121
12. Caffeinated Coffee Does Not Acutely Affect energy Intake, Appetite, or Inflammation but Prevents Serum Cortisol Concentrations from Falling in Health Men. 2011. A. Gavrieli, et al. The Journal of Nutrition. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/141/4/703.short

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