For many years ‘experts’ warned about the dangers of coffee. When I was a kid, I remember my mother banning coffee from the house at one point, opting instead, for a healthier option, that tasted like worn out, old carpet.
I wonder now, if she had drank her caffeine like most people, that she would not be suffering from type 2 diabetes today? Possibly.
It might well give you that burst of energy first thing in the morning, but is coffee good for your health or could those experts be right? It can be very confusing.
All the time, I come across people who steer well clear of drinking coffee, but there are two solid decades of research which have declared that when consumed in moderation, coffee is perfectly safe. In fact, it has a list of proven health benefits.
Mind you, it’s a fine line. If you drink too much, you get the jittery side effects and a horrible ‘come-down’, and it can really mess with your stomach causing diarrhea.
But, people who drink coffee, are less likely to:
- suffer with heart problems (see heart disease section below)
- suffer certain types of cancers
- get type 2 diabetes
- get Alzheimer’s or dementia
The Effect of Coffee Consumption
When I started building this site, my intention was to build a resource that would help visitors decipher the vast information available on coffee makers found on sites like Amazon, and help them choose the right one for their home or office. I also wanted to give the best guide on the choices of quality world coffees.
But my research and my journey into ‘all things coffee’, took me on a wider path, when I discovered how caffeine affects the body, mostly in positive ways.
Over 54% of Americans drink coffee every day. Having a cup of Joe is considered the only way to start the day in many households. Whether out of habit or necessity, some folk just have to have to start their day with a shot of caffeine, or they can’t function.
I’ve been there too, at times I just can’t get going without my black coffee first thing. Mind you, that’s usually after a night out and the next day is just complete chore!
Others drink coffee as their main refreshment, coffee breaks and social gatherings, just because it’s considered normal practice. And then there are other folk, connoisseurs, who enjoy the finest coffees of the world,
And the rest are, or think they are addicted to caffeine! One study I came across recently suggests that caffeine addiction is all in the mind, but we’ll get to that a bit later on.
First, lets talk about the positive of drinking coffee, in moderation.
The Health Benefits of Coffee (Caffeine)
You should be mindful of the difference between a cup of (black) coffee, verses caffeine by itself. ‘Coffee’ contains thousands of natural substances, chemicals and nutrients, which work together to produce a healing, or therapeutic effect.
Caffeine by itself is like a drug. In fact, it is the most commonly used stimulant used anywhere in Western civilization. It works by blocking adenosine, a neurotransmitter found in every cell of the body, which affects desire of sleep as well as other physiological activities in the body.
Caffeine on its own, can be quite poisonous, and depending on your tolerance level, it might produce a buzz you will find very uncomfortable.
Type 2 Diabetes
But, as you read earlier, the numerous compounds in coffee beans, go a long way to help protect against type 2 diabetes, as well as other health conditions. The paradox of this is that if you already have type 2 diabetes, then reducing the amount of coffee you drink is advisable, because the increase in blood sugar makes it difficult for diabetics to manage their insulin (1).
These positives also apply to Alzheimer’s, a most terrible of diseases that usually affects people over sixty five. Although coffee may not cure patients 100%, it has been shown to help treat the symptoms. You can read more about this in our article titled Coffee and Alzheimer’s (2).
Coffee Can Increase And Decrease the Risk of Stroke and Cardiovascular Disease
Yes, you read correctly, it depends on one factor, if coffee is helpful to you or could cause you harm.
It’s not that previous research has been wrong, it is just that studies neglected to include one fundamental aspect, when figuring how coffee affects people. Some people are fast coffee metabolizers, others are slow metabolizers of coffee, which makes a huge difference That is, their metabolism.
In a study lasting a decade up to 2004, people who’d suffered a nonfatal myocardial infarction, had many statistics recorded, including their caffeinated coffee intake. The association of coffee intake against risk of heart attack was assessed that someone who metabolizes coffee quickly has a reduced risk of stroke or heart problems, verses someone who metabolizes coffee slowly, is at higher risk of developing problems (3).
Health Problems Associated With Too Much Coffee
- Risk of bone density loss in post-menopausal women
- Shakes or ‘jitters’
For the immediate relief of fatigue, a cup of (black) coffee works miracles. This is why caffeine tablets and sports supplements were created – to give you a fast working boost of energy and awareness (4).
Most people are unaware of the hidden dangers of coffee. After they’ve had their ‘kick’ of caffeine, they have set themselves up for a day of highs and crashes of energy. The energy boost may last for a couple of hours at most, but then get an almighty crash, as the ‘high’ wears off.
This is particularly dangerous if you are trying to lose weight, because these crashes result in the need for another fast energy source, usually sugar! These spikes can last all day, which is why most people, or at least a pretty good reason, why they struggle to lose weight.
When you drink a cup of coffee, the caffeine causes wild neuron firing in the brain, which results in the pituitary gland to stimulate the release of adrenalin. This is basically pure energy.
When the ‘high’ wears off, adrenalin decreases rapidly causing fatigue, exhaustion, and possibly confusion and headaches. The bodies adrenal system is basically in ‘chaos’! Then you get those side effects.
The More You Drink, the More You Need!
Just like any other stimulant or drug, the body will develop a tolerance that will cause drinking more next time you want a ‘buzz’, just to get the same result as the very first cup.
Side Effects and Withdrawal Symptoms of Caffeine
Someone who drinks coffee every day, just for the stimulant effect, is heading for trouble. Even someone more tolerate to the effects of caffeine might get the shakes or ‘jitters’ after a couple of cups of coffee.
But someone who drinks coffee as their main refreshment is asking for problems. And not just the side effects you might feel, like those jitters, but it could cause mood swings and depression which you have no control over, because of that adrenal stress.