Coffee has become more than a morning drink, as for millions of people throughout the world, drinking coffee has become a morning ritual, respected and religiously followed.
But the health and medical community has been long divided: some say coffee is a source of antioxidants and therefore, has great health benefits, while others argue that coffee should be considered a highly addictive drug that is dangerous for health and body.
Some say it’s healthy and energizing, others that it’s toxic and harmful.
With such strong conflicting opinions, it can be hard to know whether we should be kick caffeine to the curb or simply enjoy another brew.
But by understanding the greatest pros and cons for both sides, you’ll be able to make a well informed decision.
The Good Side- Key Health Benefits of Coffee
Thankfully, the majority of research on coffee highlights it's benefits for health. Coffee drinks will be glad be pleased to hear the following:
1. Source of Powerful Antioxidants
You might be surprised to know that coffee is actually considered the world’s number 1 antioxidant drink, above tea, chocolate, and berries.
2. Liver Protection From Chronic Diseases
We’re not saying you should drink heavily and cover it up with a cup of coffee, but coffee has been found to help people with hepatitis C-related diseases. Regular coffee intake was linked to lower incidence of chronic liver diseases.
3. Lower Risk of Gallstones
It seems that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of getting gallstones, possibly due to the caffeine’s ability to control cholesterol levels of the bile.
4. Improved Physical and Mental Performance
Caffeine is included in many sports beverages, such as energy drinks, sports gels, diet sodas. It brings a powerful wave of energy both in the body and brain, studies show. Drinking caffeinated beverages allowed athletes to increase speed and power, as well as endurance. Also, caffeine has post-training benefits, helping the body to continue burning calories after the exercise session.
5. Stimulation of Brain and Cognitive functions
In moderate doses, coffee stimulates the brain functions by increasing the blood flow.
6. Neurodegenerative Diseases (Alzheimer and Parkinson)
Studies show that coffee helps the brain naturally restore memory and protect against Parkinson disease. Caffeine is being discussed as a possible medicine for the amelioration of neurodegenerative disorders and immunity problems.
Are these studies supported by the big coffee industry? Cause it sounds too good to be true. It's hard to tell. That is why it’s better to use our own judgment and consider more facts.
The Bad Side- Health Dangers of Drinking Coffee
1. Caffeine Addiction
Too much of a good thing can turn to be bad. That’s exactly what happens when you drink too much coffee – it becomes an addiction. You feel that you can’t function well without it and you “need” it like air. Well, that’s not true. You can live so well without coffee. That’s a fact.
Drinking too much coffee will cause a caffeine overdose. Why? Coffee is a stimulant drug in the class of psychoactive drugs, such as methylxanthine. It affects the nervous system, increases the heart rate and alertness, and impairs the functions of the brain and body.
When you don’t get your coffee, your body asks for the “daily dose” of the caffeinated drug, manifesting specific symptoms of addiction: anxiety, irritability, headache, shaking, fatigue, concentration problems, digestive troubles, lack of appetite.
And if you suffer from chronic adrenal fatigue or thyroid problems, drinking coffee will give you more trouble, as coffee “burns out” your adrenal glands, as an addictive, stimulant drug.
As little as 500 mg of caffeine may have the overdose effect on you. However, the consumption of over 10 grams per day for an adult has toxic effects on your body. Some of the intoxication symptoms are restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, abdominal problems, muscle twitching, uncontrolled thought and speech, cardiac problems, agitation, insomnia.
Drinking more than three cups of coffee daily negatively affects your hormones and it makes the PMS symptoms more severe for women.
2. Nutrient Depletion and Dehydration
Coffee is a known diuretic (will make you urinate more often than usual, depending on how many cups you drink). Urinating so often, without replenishing nutrient intake, will likely deplete essential nutrients, such as vitamins (vitamin B and C) and minerals (potassium, magnesium, calcium, and zinc). Drinking too much coffee, without drinking also plain water, can lead to mild dehydration, which will further affect your health.
3. Increased Risk of High Blood Pressure
People who regularly drink coffee increase their risk of high blood pressure, studies show. When consuming more coffee, it can increase the homocysteine levels, which are inflammatory molecules that can trigger heart diseases, heart attacks and strokes.
4. Potentially Fatal Overdose (Rare)
Although it’s rare, it happened, that’s why you should be aware of it. Coffee is toxic, and drinking too much can be fatal, especially in fitness and bodybuilding, where coffee is regarded and used as a muscle aid. As low as 12 grams of pure caffeine anhydrous lead to tragic death.
So is Coffee a Sinner or a Saint?
As with most things in life, moderation is the key. That way you can reap most the health benefits while minimising the risks.
If your a die-hard coffee drinker, make sure you don't have more 3 cups a day as a general guideline. Plus, you should have extra care to ensure you stay hydrated and replacing those key nutrients.
But coffee is not necessarily for everyone, especially if you already suffer from high blood pressure. Thankfully, there are healthier alternatives to coffee.
Matcha tea, Yerba Mate, Green tea, Licorice, Ginger, Ginseng, Maca, Chicory are some of the healthiest, better options, without the side-effects and health risks of coffee.
So, why not give these natural alternatives an enthusiastic try? Enjoy!