Hello SOTGC community,
Whether you “Run on Dunkin’,” subsist on grande soy lattes, or prefer yours a “double-double,” you are one of the approximate 165 million North Americans that make coffee a part of your daily routine (myself not included…I am a tea drinker.)
Although the United States is the world’s largest importer of coffee (no surprise there), I was interested to learn that the Scandinavian countries consume the most coffee per capita…who knew?!?
Coffee trivia aside, I would like to explore coffee’s affects on your health. There have been many studies done in the past that have indicated the negative effects that coffee can have on your health. More recently, however, newer international studies are revealing that coffee may have some potential positive benefits as well.
Coffee initially had a bad rap for its supposed negative effects on cardiovascular health, but new studies claim that coffee may lower the risk of certain types of cardiovascular disease and stroke. More studies are now being completed on the neurological benefits of coffee, showing that coffee drinkers may have lower rates of age-related cognitive decline, as well as decreased risk of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The antioxidant content in coffee may be linked to some degree of cancer prevention, although there isn’t enough evidence yet to make such a strong conclusion.
Coffee has also been linked to reduced risk of developing gallstones and protection of the liver in those with liver disease. The strongest positive evidence thus far has indicated that coffee has a protective effect against the development of Type-2 Diabetes.
While this all sounds very positive, it is important to understand that many of these reported benefits came with drinking what I consider an excessive amount of coffee per day, sometimes upwards of seven to eight cups! Also, much of the research completed was done with specific cultural groups and did not cross both genders.
I don’t want to rain on the positive-side parade, but there are just as many, if not more, potential downsides to drinking coffee. The most notable negative effects of coffee are attributed to the stimulating effect of caffeine: restlessness, anxiety, muscle twitching, insomnia, elevated blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat. Due to its high level of acidity, coffee can also have a negative effect on the gastrointestinal system, especially in the case of causing or worsening heartburn or acid reflux. Unless you are drinking your coffee black, you are also likely adding fat and sugar calories to your diet with the milk, cream, whipped cream, sugar, flavored syrups, or worse, the chemicals in the artificial sweeteners, which you add to your cup of Joe. Let’s also not forget about the oral effects of coffee, which include stained teeth and that beloved coffee-breath.
So, should you forgo the Starbucks line tomorrow morning? As long as your daily consumption is moderate, I think it is safe to enjoy a cup of coffee. If coffee is something you can’t live without, you may want to look at your habits and your lifestyle in greater depth and ask why. Are you drinking coffee because you like the flavor, or are you drinking it because you often feel drained or haven’t slept well? If the answer is the latter, and you would like to feel more energetic naturally, there are many ways to do so. In fact, it is one of the more common issues that I help my clients deal with, and successfully so I might add.
I will leave you with one suggestion this week: try substituting one cup of coffee this week with a cup of tea. With less caffeine, and many well-documented health benefits, a hot cup of tea (green tea especially) is a healthy addition to your daily routine.
Did this post get you thinking? Please feel free to share with friends and family if you were intrigued with the information.