Coffee is one of the most common ways that people start their day. As we work from home more and more, many people use coffee pods for their morning cup of coffee.
While this has been considered healthy for years, there is some new evidence that plastic coffee pods might not be as healthy as previously thought. There is some evidence from a study done in 2011 that there are estrogenic compounds in some plastic coffee pods.
Plastics Have Been Considered Less Healthy Overall
When research showed that plastic water bottles could shed carcinogens after being exposed to the sun, this spurred interest in the compounds that were conveyed to food and drink by other plastic containers. We live in a sea of plastic containers these days that hold liquids, as well as foods, and the concern for many researchers, was that all of these containers could pose health risks under the right conditions.
Usually, the reason that plastic will convey harmful chemicals to foods or liquids that it contains is that it was exposed to heat. This is true of bottles that are exposed to the sun but it seems now to also be true of coffee pods exposed to hot water during the brewing process. This makes sense when you consider just how hot the water in your coffee pod machine has to be in order to create a cup of coffee.
Capsule Brewing Requires High Temperatures
Studies have shown that capsule coffee requires very high heat to make an instant cup of coffee. This exposes the coffee pod to an intensely focused heating process that causes the leaching of xenoestrogens and estrogenic chemicals into the coffee that is made from the pod. Plastics of all kinds contain substances that should not be imparted to the human body.
These chemicals are linked to estrogen and are viewed by the body as estrogens, which can cause all kinds of health concerns. There is even evidence that these compounds, when consumed by breastfeeding mothers, might harm young children that are not eating solid food yet. Men involved in these studies also showed reduced sperm counts in response to the estrogenic compounds impacting their native hormone balance.
Link to BPAs
BPAs, which are imparted to low-quality plastics that were formerly used for many kinds of water bottles and other plastic food containers, were found to be released into the food or water in the container when exposed to heat. BPA use has been cut down significantly due to rigorous studies that showed that they caused cancer when they leached into drinking water and foods.
While estrogens are not the same chemical as BPAs, the process of leaching is the same in coffee pods as in the water bottle and BPA studies. Estrogen is a naturally-occurring hormone but these estrogenic chemicals are not naturally-occurring hormones and can therefore cause a whole host of negative symptoms in people who have consumed them.
Symptoms of Estrogenic Compound Exposure
Studies not related to the coffee pods study have shown that exposure to higher levels of estrogenic compounds can cause hormone disruptions in both men and women. Men displayed reduced sperm production in response to these chemicals and women showed signs of reduced libido and fertility as well. Breastfeeding mothers also were shown to convey the compounds to their children through breast milk, leading to low weight gain in the infant as well as other problems prior to giving birth and beginning breastfeeding.
While these studies were dealing with exposure at much higher magnitudes than what is conveyed to coffee through the use of a coffee pod, the risks of these chemicals to your health are pretty clear at this time. Plastics have been shown for years to deliver harmful substances to foods and drinks when exposed to heat and creating a cup of coffee will always require hot water. There needs to be more work done into the connection between coffee pods and these estrogen-like chemicals but you might want to think about this before you make your next cup of coffee.
How Much Does This Impact Your Cup of Coffee?
As the studies into this kind of leeching effect of estrogen compounds into instant coffees continue, some doctors have weighed in on the issue. No one will deny that there is a risk of consuming this kind of coffee, but many doctors and researchers have pointed out that the presence of these compounds is about 10 million times lower in magnitude and effect than actual estrogen.
While this might seem like a negligible risk to some people, there is no denying that these coffee pods will impart chemicals from the plastic as they are used to make your cup of coffee. You will have to decide yourself if you think that this is an acceptable risk to your health as more studies are done into the potential health risks of these estrogenic compounds being conveyed to coffee.
Coffee is Healthy and Can Easily be Made Without the Pod
If you love coffee and are worried about being exposed to these estrogenic compounds, you can simply make your coffee the old-fashioned way. There is nothing stopping anyone from ditching the pods and making a pot of coffee that does not use a plastic container to brew the grounds. Coffee has been a staple of many cultures for many generations and the only change that has led to this research is the rise in use of the plastic pod coffee maker.
If you love coffee and these studies have made you think twice, you can replace your pod-style coffee maker with a traditional coffee pot or a French press. You can also get an insert for your instant coffee pot that will allow you to use grounds that are poured in from your own bags of product. There are many ways to avoid the plastic pod when making coffee and there is a chance that doing so might improve your long-term health.