A potent neurostimulant and diuretic, coffee can trigger anxiety, sleep disorders, heartburn, mild dehydration, and aging. However, moderate coffee consumption has no serious health repercussions. In fact, it is a rich source of immunity-boosting antioxidants and nutrients (B vits, potassium, manganese). Limit to 2-3 cups of coffee a day and use healthy sweeteners like honey.
Don’t you just love the smell of a freshly brewed coffee?
Even better is the taste of a good quality coffee, knowing that you’re injecting your body with anti-aging oxidants as well as a host of other essential nutrients.
However, what most people don’t know is that depending on how you make your coffee you might be missing out on some huge coffee benefits.
Myth Busted: Coffee Is Not Harmful
The growing number of coffee drinkers around the world have prompted hundreds of studies about the effects of coffee on the body and whether or not caffeine causes harm.
Some say that it’s good to drink coffee when you have a headache. Others say that it’s bad to drink coffee if you have stomach problems.
Learning about the facts and the myths of coffee drinking will help coffee lovers enjoy their next cup even more.
Effects Of Drinking Coffee
The general effects of coffee can be classified as below:
Caffeine makes coffee a well-established stimulant as it stimulates the nervous system, including the nerves controlling intestinal activity, blood pressure and airway size which may keep you alert and awake, yet may also impair sleep, cause jitters and anxiety.
All types of coffee, even decaf, can stimulate secretion of stomach acid, which may lead to heartburn.
Caffeine encourages the kidneys to produce urine to rid the body of excess fluid. However, coffee leads to urination so effectively that it may cause mild dehydration. Ongoing, dehydration can accelerate aging and cause unwanted bodily changes.
The Caffeine Chaos – Some Studies
Over the past 50 years, studies have raised concern over the health risks for coffee or caffeine users. It included an association with stomach problems, pancreatic, and bladder cancer, fibrocystic breast disease and gallbladder disease, among other conditions.
However, when analysed further, these studies fall short of implicating modest coffee consumption as a significant health risk, among pregnant women and cardiac patients.
A study conducted in 1981 by the Harvard School of Public Health about coffee intake being associated with an increased pancreatic cancer was discredited, and is often used as a model to show how a flawed study can mislead research results.
It analysed a number of “exposures” among patients with pancreatic cancer, including coffee intake. The number of factors being examined made it a “fishing expedition” according to most research experts.
The danger of examining too many factors at once is, it may produce “association just by chance” results.
There is the problem of generating misleading results if a net is cast too wide.
The Harvard School of Public Health looked at the relationship between coffee consumption and overall mortality in the Nurses Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow Up Study, which together totaled about 130,000 study volunteers.
At the start of the study, these healthy men and women were in their 40s and 50s. They were followed for between 18 to 24 years, to monitor who died in that period, and tracking their diet and lifestyle habits, which included coffee consumption.
No relationship between coffee consumption and increased risk of death from any cause, death from cancer, or death from cardiovascular disease were found.
For the general population, the evidence suggests that coffee drinking doesn’t have any serious detrimental health effects.
More Than A Mere Stimulant
The following are benefits or uses of coffee or caffeine apart from being a stimulant:
Premature babies or those who have undergone surgery just after birth may be treated with caffeine to stimulate their breathing.
Coffee has plenty of nutrients and antioxidants. Many of the nutrients in the coffee beans do make it to the final drink, which actually contains a decent amount of vitamins and minerals.
A cup of coffee contains:
- 6% of the RDA for pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).
- 11% of the RDA for riboflavin (vitamin B2).
- 2% of the RDA for niacin (B3) and thiamine (B1).
- 3% of the RDA for potassium and manganese.
May not seem like much, but if you drink several cups of coffee per day then this quickly adds up. But this isn’t all. Coffee also contains a massive amount of antioxidants.
In fact, coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables.
The news that health risks are minimal and rare, was music to the ears of the coffee lovers of this world. Although those who are considered high-risk patients should better avoid the stimulant action of caffeine or the heartburn provoked even by decaffeinated coffee.
Organic Coffee, Antioxidants And Maillard Reaction
Be warned though, not all coffees are the same. I personally buy organic coffee beans and use a grinder to grind them up into a powder.
This is because the truly organic coffee beans have been grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides. Coffee beans are one of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed crops.
Generally, organic beans are grown in the shade and can thrive without chemical assistance.
Researcher Yazheng Liu and professor David Kitts found that darker roasted beans produce a higher level of antioxidants. The scientists discovered that chemicals produced during the coffee browning (or roasting) process is what delivered the shot of antioxidants. This process is referred to as the Maillard reaction.
Liu, an MSc student in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems (LFS) says,
“Previous studies suggested that antioxidants in coffee could be traced to caffeine or the chlorogenic acid found in green coffee beans, but our results clearly show that the Maillard reaction is the main source of antioxidants”.
Those who are considered heavy coffee drinkers, in the order of 4-10 cups a day, can face problems such as anxiety, irritability, restlessness, mood swings and sleeplessness.
I personally think that you might end up having too much, as it is a stimulant. I would say no to more than 2-3 cups a day.
You also want to keep in mind that, accompaniments such as milk or cream and sugar add fat and calories to your diet.
If you can, try and minimize the milk or creams and wean yourself off the sugar. If you want a healthy substitute add some raw honey, it’s natural and delicious!
So, enjoy your coffee “the right way” to reap the benefits!