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Go Ahead Have Another Cup of Coffee

October 16, 2011

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           For over the past 100 or so years coffee has gained a bad reputation for being an unhealthy addition to the human diet. However, coffee stands, chains, stores, and cafes have popped up all over the world that are flooded by customers everyday. But for all the hype, people continue to drink coffee day in and day out regardless of the stigma.  Maybe that’s because coffee in and of itself isn’t bad for you at all.

            There are several reasons people drink coffee i.e. Taste, boost of energy, caffeine content, or even because its popular.  Coffee is made from coffee beans, which are the components behind coffees health benefits. The beans contain nutritionally infused compounds known as caffeine and antioxidants.  Both caffeine and antioxidants have different potential benefits to improve health and reduce the risk for chronic illnesses.



            Each brew produces a different roast, aroma, and flavor of coffee. Everyone is partial to his or her own flavor, preparation and additives. Coffee is a natural stimulant, containing caffeine, which boosts the body’s metabolism giving you more energy and uplifting your spirits. It’s no wonder that coffee is the number one drink of choice for breakfast. Many people feel they can’t wake up with out their daily caffeine fix, which drives the consumption of coffee and accounts for 80% of the worlds caffeine use. Caffeine’s effects on boosting energy are short term regardless of the source consumed i.e. Coffee, caffeinated soft drinks, or chocolate. Therefore the aforementioned reputation of coffee can be squashed.



            In actuality coffee can help you slim down and keep you healthy. Coffee’s property as a central nervous system stimulant boosts metabolism helping the body to burn calories. Caffeine increases available energy, giving you more energy to function. In addition to being a stimulant, caffeine is a mild diuretic which increases the need to urinate. The more you pee the more water, toxins and waste is excreted from the body. Lastly, coffee in itself is very low in calories, it’s when you start adding cream, sugar, milk, half & half, or flavoring that the calories and fat increases. A 6-ounce cup of black coffee has only 7 calories.

            Coffee’s health benefits are still being explored however the caffeine and antioxidants within coffee have been found to improve health. Coffee has not been proven to prevent any conditions; only to have potential health perks. Antioxidants within coffee are age fighting compounds, which help the body repair damaged cells from oxygen free radicals. Coffee has a very strong antioxidant capacity.



            Caffeine has been shown to improve a range of symptoms such as mental decline, Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, extra weight gain, and depression. Caffeine has been linked to fewer cases of certain cancers, heart rhythm problems, and strokes. In most studies the recommended coffee intake to show a positive effect is a maximum of 4 6-ounce cups a day. 

            Study after study is being done to show the positive effects that coffee can have on certain diseases and disorders. The most recent research shows the link between drinking coffee and lowered depression in women. The study from the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that women who drink 4 cups of coffee a day are 20% less likely to show signs of depression or become depressed. The brain receptors that respond to the stimulant caffeine when entered into the body are concentrated in the basal ganglia. This area is important for determining depression and Parkinson’s. Low dose, chronic stimulation caused by consumption of caffeine from coffee makes these receptors more efficient causing one to have less depressed feelings. This doesn’t lower the risk of depression however it only protects against it.



            Another disease shown to benefit from coffee consumption is Type 2 diabetes. There are more than 15 published studies showing solid data that people who drink 4-6 cups of coffee a day regardless of sex, weight, or location have a 28% lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes. Each additional cup of coffee drops the odds by 7%.  The thought is the antioxidants in coffee help to prevent tissue damage.  Additionally coffee contains the minerals magnesium and chromium. These minerals help the body to use the hormone insulin, which is the main problem in people who have Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can also lead to heart disease and stroke; therefore by lowering the risk for diabetes you are also preventing heart disease and strokes. Drinking coffee has been linked to lower risks for heart arrhythmias in both men and women and lowered risk of strokes in women. By drinking 1-3 cups of coffee you are 20% less likely to be hospitalized for abnormal heart rhythms and drinking 2 or more cups lowers your risk for stroke by 20%. 



            The research data on coffee also is very consistent on protecting against Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Caffeine has been shown to protect against certain neurotoxins, which lead to the development of Parkinson and Alzheimer’s. A higher consumption of coffee is associated with a decreased risk of Parkinson’s.  Due to caffeine in coffee there is an 80% reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease.  Coffee has also been linked to lower dementia a leading symptom of Alzheimer’s. When you drink 3-5 cups of coffee a day you reduce your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s by 65%.
 

With the intense cancer research out there, data has been consistent between coffee and liver cancer. High coffee consumption has been associated with a decreased risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. There is an 80% reduced mortality risk of cirrhosis associated with coffee consumption. Additional studies are being done to confirm the positive effects of coffee on headaches, asthma, colon cancer, gallstones and cavities.

            Despite the health benefits to the body, coffee is best drunk in moderation. High coffee intake can bring on headaches, increased heart rate, or cause insomnia. Heavy caffeine use can also cause problems such as restlessness, anxiety, irritability, and sleeplessness. Caffeine has also been known to raise blood pressure and because of its acidity it can worsen heartburn. If you experience any of these symptoms its important to wean yourself off of coffee to avoid any increase in side effects. Also consult your physician to determine if other factors are involved.