Coffee – The Good and The Bad

What would the world be without our Lattes, Decafs and Mochas – coffee is undoubtedly the elixir of life for millions of people worldwide. Though in the recent years it has garnered a bad reputation and has been associated with over-caffeination and insomnia. However coffee is much healthier than you thought, and can actually work wonders for your health if taken in moderation.

Here are some positive aspects of this drink:

  • Increases Alertness: Caffeine is a well-known stimulant and is known to increase alertness in individuals. This is because it stimulates the nervous system and regulates blood pressure and intestinal functions in the body.
  • Stimulating Breath – Caffeine dilates and opens up the airways, and is great for those who face breathing difficulties such as asthma/bronchitis. People who have recently undergone a surgery are sometimes treated with caffeine to help stimulate breathing.
  • Rich in Antioxidants – As you might already know, your cup of java is extremely rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect against the free radical damage in the body, prevent high blood pressure and pre-mature aging.
  • Weight Loss – Coffee can help burn extra calories by boosting your metabolism. A cup of Coffee in the morning can give you instant energy and help you workout and exercise for longer duration.  It is also low in calories. Of course the extra cream and sugar have to be done away with!
  • Treating Migraines – Ever wondered how a cup of coffee can dissolve away your headache within minutes? Caffeine has analgesic properties, and is even a common ingredient used in over-the-counter painkillers.
  • Diuretic functions – Caffeine content in coffee causes the kidneys to produce more urine, which helps in flushing out the toxins from the body.
  • Improved Brain Function – People who consume 2-3 cups of coffee every day are more productive at work and remember things better. As per a recent study, coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease in their golden years.
  • Type 2 Diabetes – Several studies have shown that Chlorgoenic acid found in coffee can prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Caffeine is known to raise blood sugar levels and increase energy expenditure in the short-term. It also increases your body’s insulin sensitivity, lowering the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Cancer – As per a study conducted by the Harvard Medical School, regular coffee drinkers are 50% less likely to suffer from breast, colon and prostate cancer. This can be attributed to the high antioxidant content in coffee.
  • Liver Cirrhosis – Cirrhosis of Liver refers to the scarring of Liver tissues and is a common ailment amongst alcoholics. A wide range of studies conducted under different settings, have all shown that those who drink 3-4 cups of coffee everyday are 80% less likely to suffer from Liver Cirrhosis.

While the list of health benefits of coffee seems pretty impressive, there are some adverse effects of this drink as well that you should be aware of.


Adverse Health Effects of Coffee

  • Addictive – Those who drink coffee regularly know how addictive it can be. Most people feel extremely weak and lethargic if they do not get their daily dose of coffee. Quitting coffee can cause severe withdrawal symptoms such as headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and depression.
  • Weight Gain – Apart from the rich layer of cream and sugar that is added to your java, there are other reasons why coffee can lead to weight gain. Caffeine stimulates the production of stress hormones in the body, which stimulates appetite and craving for high-calorie foods. Although caffeine is known to assist with short-term weight loss, in the longer run heavy consumption is more likely to lead to weight gain.
  • Anxiety – As mentioned earlier, caffeine can over-stimulate the central nervous system causing anxiety and jitters. Drinking more than 4 cups of coffee each day can exhaust the adrenal glands, decrease resistance to stress and make you more susceptible to diseases.
  • Heartburn – Coffee is known to trigger the secretion of stomach acids, resulting in bouts of indigestion and heartburn. In people with a history of stomach problems, even decaffeinated coffee can lead to heartburn.
  • Hypoglycemia – Caffeine is known to trigger a release of glycogen by the liver, causing an imbalance in blood sugar levels. This condition also known as Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can lead to weakness, sweating, nervousness and heart palpitations.
  • Fertility – Excessive consumption of Caffeine is responsible for a variety of fertility problems including infertility. It has even been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. Numerous studies have revealed that caffeine consumption by pregnant women can lead to low birth weight.
  • Osteoporosis – Excessive intake of coffee interferes with the proper absorption of nutrients and minerals by the bones, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. A study done on post-menopausal women found that drinking 4 or more cups of coffee per day could lead to decreased bone density.
  • Dehydration – Coffee is a potent diuretic and having it in excess can lead to dehydration. A lot of people who have more than 5-6 cups of coffee per day complain of dehydration and other associated health disorders. Dehydration also dries out the skin, making it more prone to wrinkles and stretch marks.

Though not entirely harmful, coffee is not innocent either and you should be aware of the health effects of this drink. Moderation is the key here – limit your coffee intake to 2-3 cups (or fewer) a day and do not over indulge!

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