If you’ve ever seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, you’ll know that the father character swore that Windex is the solution for every ailment. Similarly, coffee, some would swear, is the elixir of life. So much so, that the sweet aroma of coffee tickles many out of sleep in the morning. Forget an alarm clock, the bed side coffee machine is the way to get me out of bed.
Coffee is such an intrinsic part of our way of life that not a day goes by without us paying homage to the local cafe, or at worst, the office coffee maker. But this infatuation (err, addiction) to coffee isn’t all that bad. Besides the occasional coffee stained teeth, the health benefits of coffee further validate coffee addicts’ love of the stuff. No doubt, coffee is near and dear to millions of people around the world, but it’s time to put emotions aside and discuss the empirical facts about coffee and its effects on the body; if for no other reason than to give coffee lovers more reason to drink it.
Scientifically, the compounds found in coffee have the following effects:
Acts as a Stimulant: The caffeine content in coffee makes it a well-known stimulant. Not only does it interact with the nervous system, but it regulates intestinal functions, blood pressure, and airway size. In aggregate, this leads to the feeling of alertness after consuming coffee, but could also impair sleep, and cause anxiety and jitters.
Potentially Cause Heartburn: A common complaint of non-coffee drinkers is that they occasionally experience heartburn. There is truth to this as all types of coffee, even decaf sometimes lead to the production of stomach acid.
Diuretic Features: Caffeine causes kidneys to produce urine to help flush out excess fluid from the body. In some instances, it is so effective as a diuretic, it may even cause slight dehydration.
Improving Brain Function: Recent studies have shown that heavy coffee drinkers, those that consume 5-6 cups per day have a lower chance of acquiring Alzheimer’s disease than those who drink 2-3 cups.
Alternatively, some health professionals assert that regular caffeine use causes significant health problems including stomach problems, gall bladder disease, and even some forms of cancer. The research however, isn’t conclusive enough to say that caffeine is dangerous for cardiac patients or pregnant women. All in all, more research needs to be done into the negative effects of coffee. One study about the association of coffee and pancreatic cancer was discredited as a flawed study. So clearly, there is still much research to be done.
Besides its stimulating effects, coffee is known for having the following therapeutic characteristics:
Stimulating Breath: People who have recently gone through surgery are sometimes treated with caffeine to help stimulate breathing. This technique is sometimes even used for premature babies. Furthermore, researchers have shown that caffeine dilates airways, modestly helping asthma patients. For this reason, caffeine intake should be avoided prior to breathing tests so as not to temporarily mask breathing abnormalities a patient may have.
Treating Headaches: A common ingredient in over the counter pain relief medication is acetaminophen, aspirin, and even caffeine. This may be because some headaches are related to caffeine withdrawal.
Preventing Disease: Researchers conclude that moderate coffee intake may reduce the risk of diabetes, prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney stones, and even depression. Needless to say, maintaining a healthy lifestyle including physical activity and eating lots of fruits and vegetables are key factors as well.Tags: caffeine content in coffee, office coffee maker