An undisputed fact is that coffee is one of the most important beverages in the world. It comes from a type of berry and is a stimulant – which is usually attributed to its caffeine content. It has been around for centuries and is consumed in different forms. Caffeinated or decaffeinated. Black, Mocha, Capuccino, Latte…you name it.
There are people who do not take coffee for mainly one of these two reasons. 1)They have a high-intolerance or sensitivity 2) They are scared for their health.
Well; did you know that most nutritionists think the pros outweigh the cons? Yup.
Dr Wendy Doyle of the British Dietetic Association says ‘there is no conclusive evidence to prove that it is bad for you, unless you are pregnant’.
Research has even shown that caffeine supports wellness and can also have protective effects.
- improves focus and mental alertness
- may lower the risk for coronary disease and protect against heart failure. In cited studies, moderate coffee intake was associated with a lower risk for coronary heart disease as far out as 10 years, and new data suggests that an average of 2 cups a day protects against heart failure.
- consumption may cut stroke risk by as much as 25%. While its impact on stroke risk in those with cardiovascular disease is still in question, data presented at the European Meeting on Hypertension 2012 found that 1 to 3 cups a day may protect against ischemic stroke in the general population.
- contrary to popular belief, studies have linked coffee consumption with improved glucose metabolism, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and promotion of weight loss in overweight people.
- according to recent data moderate to heavy consumption (4-6 cups per day) can reduce the risk for numerous cancers. The benefits are thought to be at least partially due to its antioxidant and anti-mutagenic properties.
- coffee drinkers reportedly have significantly decreased risk of developing depression. A 2011 study suggests that a boost in consumption might also benefit our mental health: women who drank 2 to 3 cups of coffee per day had a 15% decreased risk for depression compared with those who drank less than 1 cup per week. A 20% decreased risk was seen in those who drank 4 cups or more per day.
- has been reported to slow disease progression in alcoholic cirrhosis, hepatitis C and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The liver helps to break down coffee, but coffee might also protect the liver (in some cases).
- it’s clear that coffee temporarily affects cognition. But new research also links it with more enduring effects on cognitive wellbeing including slowing the progression of dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
- greatly improves physical work out. It is said that a cup of coffee before a workout session can boost your performance by 11-12%, this is as a result of the adrenaline that it increases in the body.
Now all these sound fine and dandy…but its not all good though. As with everything in life, coffee also comes with its dark side if not properly handled. Most medics are of the opinion that, it’s not always coffee that is harmful in itself, but how it is produced. For instance, research shows that decaffeinated is more likely to trigger rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic disease of the joints.
In a study by Dr Kenneth Saag of America’s University of Alabama, the results pointed out that four cups of caffeinated coffee each day showed no risk of developing RA. Regular tea drinking actually helped prevent RA – thanks to its high levels of antioxidants which are thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect.
But the researchers showed that decaffeinated coffee doubled the risk of the disease. It is thought that in some countries certain solvents are used to dissolve the caffeine out of the beans which can have an inflammatory effect on joints in our body.
In the brain, caffeine blocks the areas that receive adenosine, a biochemical compound with sedative effects. As the day wears on, the overworked brain naturally releases more adenosine to slow activity and trigger sleep. But when you take in caffeine, these receptors get blocked, your heart rate speeds up, and you get a jolt of heightened alertness — which might be what you want so you can keep going, but meanwhile what your brain is looking for to revive itself is sleep, not caffeine.
This caffeine buzz affects the adrenal glands, causing them to pump out more of the stress hormones norepinephrine, adrenaline, and cortisol. As the adrenal glands become overworked, the daily rhythms of cortisol release are thrown off and we get both lasting fatigue and insomnia.This is how the caffeine habit often backfires: the more you drink, the more it saps your energy.
- even though coffee has antioxidants, drinking too much of it, can cause your skin to age (wrinkle). This is a result of dehydration which is the worst thing for your skin. So when you’re drinking that morning cup or two, make sure that you’re pairing it with water. Even better, add 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to your water and let them sit for 30 minutes. The chia seeds keep you even more hydrated than regular water.
- it’s true that coffee can cause the body to excrete calcium in urine. Which can lead to osteoporosis. According to The Diet Channel, about five milligrams of calcium is lost per every six ounces of coffee consumed. But these calcium losses can be counter balanced with two tablespoons of milk or yogurt per cup.
- it is not advisable for pregnant women…but if you have to, no more than a cup a day
- if you drink 80-100 cups (23 litres) in a short session, coffee can actually kill you. This dose is lethal and will amount in 10-13 grams of caffeine within your body. Before you reach this point, however, you would have been vomiting most of it out since 23 litres of any liquid is a lot and can really kill you…even if its the almighty water.
- it can cause insomnia and restlessness
- in children aged 5 – 7 years, research has shown it can increase the chances of bed-wetting
Reactions to caffeine vary from individual to individual. Some indulge and literally can go about their business. Others take a sip and they are a wreck. It all depends on our DNA, our body type and nurture. However, from the information above, we have seen that though drinking coffee in moderation has generally positive effects, excessive use may lead to problems, especially in sensitive individuals and especially as we grow older.
However, the wise thing to do…as with anything is to control one’s intake of coffee. Do more of organic coffee as their beans have had no exposure to pesticides. Take your coffee between meals. Take in lots of water as coffee has a dehydrating effect. Cut down on the sugar. Always check your health status to be sure you are not sensitive or intolerant to caffeine. Once you notice, that you are exhibiting addictive symptoms…it is time to slow down. Living in wellness means having the wisdom to moderate habits.
It is okay if you still cant take coffee, it really is not for everyone. There are other options such as various types of teas to choose from.
It is worthy to note that the feared caffeine makes up just 1 or 2 % of the bean. Anyway, research is ongoing on the other components that make up the 98% to find out their individual and collective effects.
In the meanwhile, Happy Adulting!!