2014

The Power of Good

Power of Good Health Monthly Column

Why Keep Indulging

As you have read previously, drinking five or more cups of coffee a day can be healthy for you, in moderation, of course! What good news that is! First, we learn that drinking a little wine every day is good for our hearts, then the health benefits of chocolate. Now, it is coffee! Did Woody Allen predict the future many years ago in his movie “Sleeper”? We’ve got the fudge. Will deep-frying be next?

Be that as it may, not everybody drinks or wants to drink coffee. According to Mark Pendergrast, about 15 percent of Americans who once imbibed later reported having stopped drinking coffee all together. More information can be found in his book, Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World. However, The Mayo Clinic states that the research bears some risks.

For one, high consumption of unfiltered coffee is associated with mild elevations of cholesterol levels. More importantly, some individuals have a fairly common genetic defect that slows the breakdown of caffeine, putting them at greater risk of heart disease.

Coffee has different acidic content levels depending on the brew and roast level. Those who have acid reflux know that coffee may aggravate their condition; not to mention, coffee can increase the risk of developing it. Coffee can also aggravate migraines and arrhythmias. No surprise, it can both aggravate and cause sleep disturbances, and it can aggravate anxiety.

Some people do not do well with either caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee. In the former instance, this is because a depleted enzyme system doesn’t breakdown caffeine, and in the latter, because decaf can sometimes initiate heartburn. One or two cups a day are usually tolerated.

What about coffee drinking during pregnancy? In 2010, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated that it was safe for pregnant women to drink 200mg of caffeine a day. That is about the same amount in 12 ounces of coffee. The effects of larger amounts of caffeine are unknown, although there is an association between miscarriage and drinking many cups daily.

Caffeine is a mild diuretic. This means that drinking coffee can send you to the bathroom more frequently than water will. Finally, drinking four to seven cups of coffee daily can cause restlessness, anxiety, irritability, and sleeplessness in susceptible individuals. So as in all things, it’s key to pay attention to how your body responds and to how you feel. Remember, food affects our emotions, as well as our physical energy.

With that being said, coffee is rich in antioxidants. For those who wish to imbibe, drinking five or more cups every day can protect us from diabetes by helping with glucose (blood sugar) regulation. Liver disease risk is also reduced, and the dark liquid may play a role in cancer protection. The benefits are due to coffee’s phenolic antioxidants, as well as heat-released antioxidants. Through a different pathway, even one cup daily can halve the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease.

America’s number one antioxidant has also been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, gallstones, kidney stones, depression, and suicide. Numerous other studies have shown that coffee increases mental alertness, cognitive function, physical stamina, and wakefulness. (Obviously the results of redundant scientific studies.) For the back-story about many of these health benefits, see the previously posted coffee articles in back issues of CoffeeTalk Magazine. In the meantime, keep enjoying the many benefits and pleasures of America’s favorite beverage.

Siri Khalsa is the editor of Nutrition News, and she has been writing for the publication for many years. She has the passion and dedication to educate readers on the health benefits on tea and coffee.

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