Coffee – Good or Bad?

“Don’t drink too much coffee it’s bad for you.”  How many times have you heard that in your lifetime?  Not until the last very few years has valid research been performed to prove or disprove the fears of its hostile effects.

Grown in over 70 countries and the most consumed beverage in the world coffee is believed to have been discovered by a goat herder in Ethiopia who noticed his goats were extra playful after eating coffee cherries. I don’t know how they found this out but it makes for a good story.

The first evidence of coffee’s use as a common beverage is thought to have been in the middle of the 15th century on the Arabian Peninsula.

Starting the morning without coffee, for many of us, myself included, is like running down a gravel path in bare feet. You can get through it but it doesn’t feel good.

For those of us who go to bed at night looking forward to our first sip of freshly brewed coffee in the morning, the thought it may be providing some benefit is hope indeed.

Well, there’s good news and then, of course, there’s bad news. Let’s start with the bad news and leave the good news for dessert.

THE BAD NEWS

ONE

Diterpenes are oily components in unfiltered coffee. There are two types of diterpenes, Kayweol and cafestol, and both of them are associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease due to the elevation in low density lipoproteins (the bad cholesterol). Be aware though that the science on cholesterol is making a change in how cholesterol is viewed in terms of heart disease. There is a great deal of information coming out telling researchers that cholesterol is not a cause for heart disease…..so a little hope with your bad news.

TWO

The elderly who usually have depleted enzymatic systems do not tolerate caffeine well. Because the caffeine is not easily metabolized due to this depletion it tends to create heartburn.

THREE

Coffee drinking can lead to iron deficiency anemia in pregnant mothers and infants and will interfere with iron supplements being absorbed into the body. The polyphenols in coffee block iron absorption.

FOUR

Too much caffeinated coffee can increase existing problems such as reflux disease, migraines, arrhythmias and can cause sleep disturbance. Very high doses can lead to anxiety disorders.

FIVE

Decaffeinated coffee contains fairly high levels of compounds called acrylamides, which are known cancer-causing agents, in animals. Acrylamides form after food, which is low in protein, is heated at high heat for a long time.

Caffeinated coffee has far fewer acrylamides.

According to Health Canada and the World Health Organization, it is not possible to state the level of risk of acrylamides to human health at present.

NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS (DESSERT)

ONE

Coffee consumption reduces the risk of being affected by Alzheimer’s disease. According to a study reported in Pub Med four studies have shown that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease decreases with regular coffee consumption although it is noted more research is “strongly needed.”

TWO

Higher consumption of coffee with caffeine apparently produces a significantly lower rate of Parkinson’s disease. Both the Journal of American Medical Association and Harvard Health have reported this finding however Harvard Health goes on to tell us that caffeine protects men but not women against Parkinson’s. This, they tell us, has to do with the fact that both caffeine and estrogen need the same enzymes to be metabolized and in women estrogen gets these enzymes so the caffeine can’t be used by the body to protect against Parkinson’s.

THREE

Habitual coffee consumption protects against type 2 diabetes. A study from Taiwan discovered a connection between coffee and the pancreas. There are two major components of coffee, caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid that suppress the formation of human islet amyloid polypeptide thus slowing down insulin release and protecting the pancreas from excessive stimulation.

FOUR

For people both men and women who drink caffeinated coffee there was a lower incidence of both gallstones and gallbladder disease according to two studies by the Harvard School of Public Health. This only happens when caffeinated coffee is drunk not decaf.

FIVE

Caffeine and thus caffeinated coffee increase the effects of pain killers. They are particularly effective with migraine and headache medications. Coffee without the meds, however, can increase headaches.

SIX

Coffee protects the liver in a couple of ways. It blocks the absorption of iron. Iron is toxic to the liver and a build up of it can cause problems. When coffee is consumed iron is passed out of the body in the urine thus protecting the liver. Coffee also protects against cirrhosis of the liver and reduces the risk of liver cancer in those who already have cirrhosis.

SEVEN

Coffee reduces the risk of getting gout.

SEVEN

Coffee and the heart:

a. Coffee has no apparent long term affect on blood pressure according to the Mayo Clinic.

b. Coffee protects the heart. People who drink coffee regularly and moderately have a better chance of avoiding cardiovascular disease.

EIGHT

Our brains on coffee perform surprisingly well.

a. Coffee drinking increases: short term recall, reaction time, verbal memory, visual/ spatial reasoning and generally helps with better performance on all tests.

b.The elderly, particularly, have increased performance if they have been regular coffee drinkers all their lives.

c. In their article ‘Coffees’ Affects Revealed in Brain Scans’ NewScience writes: “Caffeine modulates a higher brain function through its effects on distinct areas of the brain,” explains Florian Koppelstätter, who carried out the research with colleagues at the Medical University at Innsbruck, Austria.  “This type of memory is used when, for example, you look up a telephone number in a book and then mentally store it before dialling,” he adds.

So there we have it. The next time someone says don’t drink coffee it’s bad for you, you’ll know exactly what to say!

In a nutshell. Coffee in moderation is really good for you. The benefits far outweigh the bad. YEAH!!!

F.Y.I.

Caffeine content, depending on how it is prepared:

brewed: 1 cup (7 oz, 207 ml) = 80–135 mg.

drip: 1 cup (7 oz, 207 ml) = 115–175 mg.

espresso: 1 shot (1.5–2 oz, 45–60 ml) = 100 mg

Limiting your daily intake of caffeine to 400 mg or less per day will avoid any adverse affects unless you are particularly sensitive to it.

According to Health Canada:

Children are particularly sensitive to caffeine and caffeine intake should be monitored:

45 mg for children aged 4 – 6;

62.5 mg for children aged 7 – 9; and

85 mg for children aged 10 – 12

Those recommended maximums are equivalent to about one to two 12-oz (355 ml) cans of cola a day.

CONCLUSION

Coffee is bad for you.  Is this a fact or is it fiction?  Unless you’re pregnant or drink way too much of it, this one is fiction.

IMPORTANT: The information on this site should never be used to self medicate or to self diagnose. Always contact your health care provider before using any kind of supplementation or making any extreme change in diet.

REFERENCES

This is where I got the information.  I didn’t make this stuff up, really.  Check it out.

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=192731 parkinsons http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/coffee_health_benefits parkinsons http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=201177 type2 diabetes http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=202502 heart http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17427282 alzhiemers http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/coffee-new-health-food http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_coffee http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee# Health_and_pharmacology http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/97/4/293 http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn8401-coffees-effects-revealed-in-brain-scans.html http://www.annals.org/content/148/12/904.full.pdf+html?sid=eb3b8d8e-40a5-46e1-8c82-fefb11488190 http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/blood-pressure/AN00792

http://www.health.harvard.edu/search?q=COFFEE