Is Coffee Good for Us or Not?
Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - Author: Julie Lara
The sun is up and so are you. You stumble out of bed and fumble to silence your alarm. You yawn and stretch; soon you become aware of a deep urge: "Must ... have ... coffee." Coffee is the fragrant wonder drink that gets you off and running every morning; it is that robust kick-in-the-pants that refocuses your mind on the job. But you feel a twinge of guilt this morning as you take your first sip. You read an article in a health magazine yesterday that put coffee in a questionable light, although just last week you read online about a test that proved the health benefits of coffee. You stare down into the dark depths of your mug, breathe the familiar aroma and feel your stomach twist in knots as the unknown questions swirl inside of you. Why must something as basic and enjoyable as your morning cup of coffee become yet another source of worry in your life?
Maybe it's time to dig deeply into your fears about coffee once and for all. You need to settle the lingering doubt in your mind: Is coffee good for you or not?
Coffee's most distinguishing characteristic is its caffeine content. When people think of coffee they think of caffeine – and caffeine is often demonized. People think caffeine is in soda, and soda is bad. However both chocolate and green teas also contain caffeine, yet they are known for their healthful properties. So is caffeine really so horrible?
Caffeine is a chemical found in the leaves, fruit and pollen of the coffee tree. The leaves hold the highest concentration of caffeine and they can be deadly to insects that prey on them in ample doses. Interestingly, the taste of the pollen makes the bees that pollenate the coffee tree come back for more after their first taste of the nectar. The pollen contains molecules that cause the bee's memories to be sparked in a favorable way toward it.
As Julie A. Mustard, a neurobiologist stated, "It's a very cool fact that you can use one molecule to do a negative thing and a positive one." The plant is structured in such a way as to kill off predators, yet it rewards the bees who pollenate it with a certain buzz that keeps them coming back for more. If caffeine has such differing effects on the bodies of insects, the question begs to be asked - what does caffeine do to the human body?
After you drink coffee, caffeine is absorbed into your bloodstream where it makes its way to your brain. Until the arrival of caffeine, the neurotransmitter adenosine rules the show and naturally slows down cell activity. However, when caffeine binds to the receptors in place of adenosine it blocks the production of it. In the absence of adenosine, neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine begin lighting up your nervous system. You sigh; you take another sip and feel that welcome wave of energy that you have come to expect. You're also getting a mood and memory boost. Coffee is putting the turbo boost on the neurons of your brain.
Now it's time to let science speak for itself. Let's look at the effects of caffeine on the different parts of the human body.
Trials have shown that coffee can lower the risk of degenerative diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, by half. Caffeine can improve reaction time, vigilance and general cognitive function.
Some people worry that coffee could be an addictive substance, but research has not borne coffee out as being overly addicting. People usually overcome any headaches or jitters from quitting coffee within a week's time as the body readjusts to its lack of neuronal stimulation.
Your liver may thank you for your coffee consumption. If you drink at least one cup of coffee each day you can cut your probability of liver disease by one third. It may even be able to slow the damaging consequences of alcohol on the liver.
Coffee acts as a bowel cleanser; it stimulates the cleansing functions of the body to remove harmful toxins from your system. It may daunt the development of colon cancer and decrease the threat of developing gallstones.
There has been some concern about the effects of coffee on the heart. This is due to the rise in blood pressure that comes with caffeine. It is true that caffeine could be dangerous for someone with an undiagnosed heart condition.
Different people metabolize caffeine at different speeds. The average person should be fine with 400mg of caffeine per day according to the FDA. That amounts to around two cups of home-brewed coffee, or four cups of instant.
Coffee does the cardiovascular system many favors. It stimulates the nervous system and gives a wonderful jolt of energy to power an exercise regimen. It boosts the metabolism to assist in burning off excess calories. Caffeine mobilizes fatty acids in your bloodstream so that you can burn them for fuel during your workout.
The lifestyle-related epidemic of diabetes can also be combatted with a few strong cups of coffee each day. Tests have shown many times that coffee is good for insulin levels. It can cut the possibility of developing Type 2 diabetes by half, and the more coffee people drink the lower their risk becomes.
A study performed by Harvard School of Public Health stated that two or more cups of coffee per day can reduce the likelihood of suicide by fifty percent. Coffee is a mild antidepressant because it boosts production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin.
Coffee isn't merely fragrant water nutritionally, either. The coffee bean contains vitamins and minerals that are important for robust health. Although it isn't a nutritional giant, coffee does boost your B vitamins a bit. It is the opposite from its caffeine counterpart soda, which is devoid of nutrition. While you can't quit your multivitamin because of coffee consumption, coffee continues to amaze those who study it with its undeniable antioxidant lift.
Your unassuming cup of Joe contains a massive amount of antioxidants. It may decrease the possibility of depression as it floods your body with these valiant protectors. Nothing else comes close to providing the antioxidant punch of coffee. The human body absorbs them readily from coffee, even better than it does from fruits and vegetables.
Scientists are discovering that even the aroma of fresh coffee creates a stirring in the genes of the brain. It has been reported that sleep deprived control groups in particular respond well to this type of aromatherapy. Healthful antioxidant activity, which protects nerve cells from stress-related damage, appears to be influenced into action by the irresistible fragrance of coffee brewing.
As TIME reporter, Michael Lemonick, observed: "When you're sleep-deprived and you take caffeine, pretty much anything you measure will improve: reaction time, vigilance, attention, logical reasoning ... most of the complex functions you associate with intelligence."
Over a billion cups of coffee are poured and appreciated each and every day around the world across an array of cultures and people groups. According to Harvard Health Publications, there has been twenty years' worth of reassuring testing and research to ease the minds of these dedicated coffee drinkers.
While coffee has an extensive history of being blamed for many ills, it seems to be safe for most people when enjoyed in moderation. Any negative effects tend to arise when taken in unreasonably large quantities.
Nothing else quite matches the comfort and robust health boost that we enjoy from drinking a good cup of coffee.