Is Coffee Bad for You

Rethinking that morning cup of coffee

Starting off the morning with a cup of coffee; it’s a part of the daily routine for countless people all around the world. Coffee is social, whether in the canteen at work or a get together with friends. But have you ever considered the health implications of your favorite cappuccino? Do you really know what that latte is doing to your body?

Coffee’s long list of health benefits

A lot of people like coffee for that pick-me-up buzz which accompanies it — you probably know people who swear they can’t start the day without it, and this is backed up by scientific evidence. Coffee is proven to be beneficial for many brain-intensive activities involving memory, reaction time, and being alert. Other ingredients of coffee are also really good for you – it is a major source of antioxidants, which help to reduce the visible effects of aging and oxidative damage to cells. Antioxidants also help to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, and the chlorogenic acid in coffee is linked to a lower risk of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The other side of the coin

Coffee is not without its downsides though — an excess consumption of caffeine can cause problems such as heart arrhythmia, restlessness, difficulty sleeping and anxiety or jittery behavior. People with more sensitive stomachs can be more at risk of acid reflux and ulcers if drinking coffee, and there’s also the problem of addiction. Caffeine is an addictive substance and even small daily doses can cause withdrawal symptoms if skipped  ‘weekend headaches’ can be common among people who drink coffee socially at work, but don’t bother at home. Other withdrawal symptoms include nausea, cramps, insomnia and difficulty concentrating. There are several medical conditions that advise a low-caffeine diet, and it’s also highly recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women also carefully consider their caffeine consumption.

So, is coffee good or bad for you? Here’s a good compromise:

Decaf coffee can be a really good healthy compromise. Soaking the beans gets rid of up to 97% of their caffeine content, vastly reducing the risk of the problems associated with it while still retaining much of the nutrients and goodness like potassium, vitamin B3, and magnesium. The antioxidant benefits can be slightly reduced, but there is no apparent effect of decaffeination on the ability of coffee to reduce the risk of neurological diseases as described above. It’s certainly worth a try!

– By Jess Walter, freelance writer and mother of two

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