Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world next to water and tea; one that has been used by people as a stimulant for hundreds of years. The debate over whether or not the positive benefits outweigh the negatives of drinking coffee however have been up for debate since then. A growing number of studies and research papers have pointed us in the direction towards coffee being more beneficial than not to drinkers, for various reasons.
One of the biggest positives that coffee provides to the consumer is added protection against type 2 diabetes. There numerous studies, in the double digits, that have shown this link between coffee and the ability to fight this disease. This is especially important in today’s society due to the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the general population as of late. Studies also have shown that decaffeinated coffee is effective as well as regular coffee in fighting this disease. In addition to its prevalence in modern society due to our diets, type 2 diabetes also is a precursor to many other diseases due to the effect it has on our immune system, in that the immune system is weakened. These reasons alone are enough for some people to consider drinking coffee regularly. We are not 100% certain as to what chemicals in coffee cause this, but it is believed that multiple compounds found within the coffee to be responsible. Antioxidants found in coffee are associated with cell and tissue repair. Coffee also contains Magnesium and chromium which help regulate the hormone insulin, which is involved with maintaining the proper blood sugar levels. In type 2 diabetes the individual loses the ability to use insulin and thus cannot regulate their blood sugar levels properly which can lead to health problems including dizziness, fainting and even death.
Caffeinated versus Decaffeinated
What many people are unaware of when it comes to caffeine is that caffeine is a chemical plants use in a similar manner that we humans use adrenaline. It is mainly used as a “fight or flight” defense mechanism to combat predators or pests. Caffeine has a similar effect on humans to an epinephrine shot, meaning that it increases heart rate, tension, and blood pressure which can be dangerous in certain situations and can also be dangerous to certain individuals with underlying health conditions. Basically to be safe if you have any heart problems, if you take any blood pressure medication or are generally high strung, decaffeinated coffee might be a better option for you.
Parkinson’s/Alzheimer’s/Other Neurological diseases
When it comes to Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases, it seems that caffeinated coffee is the better choice here. Although its role isn’t 100% known, it is believed that caffeine is the contributing factor in the decrease in the instances of Parkinson’s disease in those that drank coffee on a regular basis. The risk of dementia was also reduced in those that regularly drank coffee as well.
As with virtually every other food item or beverage we consume, the concern is how many calories we are taking in, and how quickly we can get rid of these calories that will inevitably turn to fat. Coffee alone is only about 10 calories per 8 ounce cup so coffee alone definitely isn’t going to add to an excess in calories, however if you add milk or sugar to your beverage that can change dramatically. A teaspoon of sugar is about 24 calories and half-and-half will set you back about another 50 or so calories, making it easy to turn this drink which naturally has virtually no calories in to a calorie hog that can ruin your diet. Like with virtually everything else, having a coffee with a little milk and sugar in moderation will not have a negative impact on your diet.
When a baby is on the way, making sure that we control what goes in to our bodies by regulating our diet becomes extremely important even more so than usual. Many of these choices are obvious, like severely limiting alcohol consumption, and eliminating smoking. On the other hand, the answer to whether or not a pregnant woman should consume caffeine or coffee at all isn’t as obvious or easily answered. Research on this issue hasn’t given us definitive answers on this subject either except on extreme ends of the spectrum; having up to one twelve ounce coffee daily is ok, and drinking 3 or more cups a day may be attributed to a higher chance of miscarriage but the results are not clear cut as to whether or not the coffee is responsible for this. Again these risks are not fully known or understood, so the best advice is to err on the side of caution and eliminate the consumption of coffee during pregnancy.
If you are not pregnant and do not have any serious health ailments, you can use a simpler guideline as to whether or not you are going overboard on your coffee consumption. The easiest way to do so is to listen to the signals your body is giving you, but you need to know what to look for. The most telltale sign is whether or not you become drowsy at the end of the day. If your energy levels aren’t steadily decreasing as the evening progresses, you may want to reduce your consumption the following day. Another immediate sign of too much caffeine is frequent trips to the bathroom. If you feel that you are going much more frequently than usual, it is probably an indication that you should reduce your caffeine intake. A third sign is fast muscle twitching, which is another result of the caffeine and possible dehydration as a result. If your bicep for example twitches repeatedly throughout the day without any stimulation or other reasoning why it should, you are probably drinking too much caffeine as well. Tension headaches are a fourth common physiological response to too much caffeine. Caffeine really a harmful substance so listening to our body for cues is a good starting point in determining whether or not we should reduce our caffeine intake.