Of Kale and Coffee

“What’s wrong with kale?” a reader wanted to know after my post about parental bribery, which was not really about kale. I trust this means that my point about parenting was well-taken, at least.

If I didn’t have a personal clean speech policy, I’d gladly don the t-shirt that Paul Salad-no–er, Saladino–likes to wear:

I know people hear that and think it’s some kind of anti-health joke, but I am in earnest when I say you shouldn’t eat it. It is mostly unusable fiber, useful only for making your poops big. It is also loaded with compounds that both inhibit absorption of any nutrients that might be found in it and could potentially harm you in other ways. Cooking it can take care of some of these chemicals, but not all. It’s a leafy green that has iron, you say? Sorry, mom, it’s not iron that a human body can use very well. You’re much better off eating an ounce of liver, or just plain old ground beef, than several cups of kale.

The goitrogens found in kale and all of its relatives are the main reason I find that mother’s feeding of her children to be appalling. That wasn’t just kale, but raw kale. The kids’ thyroids will survive a few doses of that, but over a lifetime? This is an incredibly bad idea.

Is kale good for anything? Well, we took a weekend trip to Asheville a few years ago and saw that they had kale planted in the flower beds. I approve of this use of kale. And look, if you cook it real good to get the goitrogens out and eat it far, far away from any foods you want to actually absorb, you can eat some kale and not be harmed by it. If you really like it (you freak), your pleasure is a good). It’s not actual poison in the right dose, delivered the right way. You might even get some trace minerals with your snack, if you salt it with an unrefined salt. But kale is not really helping anything, once you factor in the numerous downsides.

And now I turn my baleful gaze on coffee. I can hear you already screaming “Why do you have to ruin everything, Cindy? Why?!” Coffee is good for you. Everybody says so. Just like kale. In fact, Ken Berry says it’s good for you (or did, back when he posted this), so you can comfort yourself with this happy video:

I believe I heard that the good doctor has quit coffee himself now, and become somewhat less certain of himself in this regard.

I’ll let Paul Saladino explain the problem with coffee, which also happens to be the problem with chocolate.

If you don’t have time to watch, that’s fine. It’s all pretty sciencey and involved. Suffice it to say that there are good reasons to turn down that morning cup of wakefulness.

For myself, coffee and chocolate both were causing hormonal acne. I’m not sure if it was the high cortisol, the disturbed sleep, some chemical from the growing or processing of those beans, or something else I can’t even think of, but my face had at least one, sometimes two or three new oil volcanoes every month, right about that time, IYKWIM. I looked awful. One thing I’m certain of is that caffeine all by itself is not causing these problems. I’m still having the equivalent of one to two cups a day with Run gum (that link gets you 20% off for the next two shoppers that use it), which I will be stopping as soon as I feel like it, which is not right now. I also like a yerba mate or yaupon tea from time to time, as they’re a low-oxalate alternative to pekoe tea.

I quit chocolate first, and things got some better. I did see improvement, but not enough to think I’d really solved the problem. It wasn’t until I finally broke the coffee (not to say the caffeine) habit that I experienced healing to an extent that made me a believer. Since I quit, my body temperature has risen, as well, so it was affecting my thyroid, as well.

These beans are not good for me.

Should you quit your coffee? I don’t know. If you’re sleeping beautifully (you’ll have to let me tell you about my Oura ring sometime!), no skin problems, stable mood, no gut or hormonal problems, then go ahead and enjoy your bitter brew. But know that it’s probably going to bite you someday if you can’t moderate the habit.

You should definitely quit kale though. Definitely.

5 thoughts on “Of Kale and Coffee

  1. You definitely make me think.

    I have started to wonder about wine as well. The wine of the past was still alive with ferments, yet now it is killed dead by sulfites. Doesn’t seem healthy to drink something that may also kill your gut flora.

    • Even trying to buy organic wine, I’m suspicious of it. My consumption is very limited, but I accept that I’m not going to be able to get 100% optimal in this environment. I wonder if anybody sells old-fashioned wine. Or maybe I should start making my own with all these elderberries, the way the old folks did.

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