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Ask JJ: Can I Drink Coffee While Detoxifying?

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Dear JJ: I'm planning a three-week detox. I know alcohol is off limits, I'm going low-sugar impact, but must I give up my morning organic dark roast? Experts seem so divided about coffee.

A few esteemed colleagues recommend foregoing coffee, especially while you detoxify.

"Constituents in coffee can interfere with normal drug metabolism and detoxification in the liver, making it difficult to regulate the normal detoxification process in the liver," writes Dr. Mark Hyman.

That really becomes a problem when you consider your liver becomes ground zero for eliminating these toxins. Obviously, while detoxifying, you don't want to add to that burden. Experts like Hyman argue coffee can potentially increase your liver's burden, so to play it safe you should eliminate it during detoxification.

All due respect, and Hyman and I agree on just about everything, but I've found support otherwise: A cup of coffee can actually enhance detoxification. Yes, you read the correctly.

One study in the journal Hepatology involved almost 28,000 people, about half of whom drank coffee. Researchers found those who had three cups a day were about 25 percent less likely to have abnormal liver enzymes compared with the non-coffee group. Researchers were unsure why, though they credit coffee's thousands of beneficial compounds.

"The results showed that people who said they drank three or more cups of coffee a day had lower levels of all four of these enzymes, compared with people who did not drink any coffee," writes Laura Geggel. "Surprisingly, it didn't matter whether a person drank regular or decaf coffee: the effect on liver enzyme levels was almost identical."

Earlier studies also overwhelmingly support coffee's liver-benefitting properties. One systematic review titled "Impact of Coffee on Liver Diseases" concluded that "coffee appears to have [liver-protecting] health benefits [possibly because of] synergistic effect of multiple compounds..."

What about caffeine? Well, that review mentions that through various mechanisms, caffeine can actually benefit your liver. A study at Duke University found the caffeine equivalent of four cups of coffee or tea a day could prevent or reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Another found increased caffeine intake could reduce your risk for hepatic fibrosis.

So you can keep your coffee during detoxification with a few crucial caveats. Opt for organic whenever possible. Mold in coffee can also create a burden to your liver. Studies show coffee can contain mycotoxins, or toxins formed by yeast and fungi, which wreak havoc on your liver and create a huge impact on how we think and feel. Especially while you detoxify, opt for a certified mycotoxin-free coffee.

Of course, I'm assuming you won't be loading down your coffee with sugar, artificial sweeteners, cream, and nasty fake creamers, all of which quickly negate any health benefits.

I realize my opinion remains controversial, so I want to hear your thoughts: Caffeine or no caffeine while you detoxify? Share your thoughts below. And keep those great questions coming at AskJJ@jjvirgin.com.