by Paul Fassa
Health Impact News
Coffee’s affect on general health has been considered mostly negative for decades. But recent years have seen more reports and studies pointing to beneficial health effects from consuming coffee on a regular basis.
Despite a recent epidemiological study that alluded to longer life without dangerous diseases among those who drank five or more cups daily, moderation and understanding one’s own physiological reaction tolerance is basic for managing coffee’s health benefits beyond risks.
Some cannot manage even one cup of coffee without getting too fidgety to function. Others have a threshold of time for coffee that can’t be broken if they want to get a good night’s sleep. Another aspect to consider is the type of coffee consumed, how it’s brewed, and what is added to the final brew.
Confusing Health Contradictions Regarding Coffee
Most of the negative health information has been concerned with the effects of adrenal fatigue from too much caffeine cortisol production. High caffeine coffee intake was associated with adrenal fatigue from overstimulating those glands.
But that may depend on the circumstances involved with coffee consumption. If one is drinking several 5 to 8 ounce cups of coffee (the cup sizes used in studies) to get throughout the day with a stressful job under superiors and co-workers who aren’t too friendly, that person is a definite adrenal fatigue candidate. Ditto if one is continually compensating for poor quality or insufficient sleep by gulping down large amounts of coffee during each day.
A few experience diarrhea with a little too much coffee; many others need to pee more often after a cup or two. If you already have bladder issues there’s no sense aggravating the bladder more. Coffee is a diuretic. So purified water consumption should be increased to compensate for water loss and prevent dehydration while even moderately consuming coffee.
Heart rates go up temporarily along with blood pressure from caffeine intake. But how often one can easily tolerate this depends on one’s own physiological inner terrain. There’s no uniform standard for that, try as some governmental agencies may. Obviously if you have existing chronic coronary and hypertension (high blood pressure) issues, it may be wise to lay off the caffeine.
Otherwise, epidemiological surveys indicate that coffee drinkers tend to live longer. Mood elevation in areas with longer nights and overcast skies may be a factor. Is there any wonder that Seattle, WA is an open mall for the nation’s best coffee houses, given how little they see the sun there?
A recent mega-study analysis has determined that four cups of coffee daily reduces stroke risk and arterial clogging from calcium. Other studies have indicated that moderate coffee-consumption protects the liver, surprisingly, and reduces the risk of colon cancer, again surprisingly.
Various studies have shown that coffee drinkers enjoy increased short term memory with enhanced long term memory. Coffee usually improves cognitive functions, including intellectual and problem solving acumen. The caffeine cuts through the fog for slow risers or awakening nappers.
It all comes down to each individual’s awareness of coffee’s effects on his or herself. The positive benefits outweigh the downside for most coffee drinkers, who may be comforted knowing that ultimately coffee is not nearly as unhealthy as once considered.
Enhancing Your Coffee Experience
Let’s keep the caffeine intake restricted to coffee only. So called “energy drinks” and sodas should be excluded. Energy drinks contain way too much caffeine and sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or artificial sweeteners. Most caffeinated sodas have less caffeine but they contain all those other ingredients and additional toxic additives.
They are ways to minimize caffeine’s down side and enhance positive attributes with both health and taste. Organic is very important. Commercially grown coffee beans are highly sprayed with pesticides.
There are two basic types of coffee beans, Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is considered more flavor nuanced according to the type of roast and it’s more expensive. Arabica beans also offer more organic options. Robusta has twice the caffeine kick with a cruder bitter flavor.
Most restaurant and supermarket coffee is Robusta, while Arabica beans are sold in health food stores and specialty food boutiques. An exception is real espresso from steam pressurizing machines. That dark roast Italian blend is actually usually partially Robusta to give you that extra punch with less volume.
For the more fickle flavor minded, grinding one’s own fresh Arabica beans is favored. There are even hand grinders for coffee beans that are considered superior to those cheaper little high speed grinding machines, which can also be used for other purposes, like grinding flax seeds in a jiffy.
If you grind your beans where you buy them, it’s considered optimum to refrigerate, not freeze your ground beans. The type of grind you select depends on how you prepare your coffee. Surprisingly, drip grind with unbleached filters is considered the healthiest.
High pressure steam espresso machines demand fine grounds, drip grounds are larger, and French Press brewing takes the largest grinds. Turkish coffee brewing uses fine grounds brewed in a small open pot.
Coffee beans and black tea contain the antioxidant CGA (Chlorogenic acid). Roasting coffee beans reduces the CGA content somewhat, but what remains is sufficient for reducing gall bladder stagnation by encouraging bile movement. Robusta coffee has almost twice the CGA as Arabica.
Drinking three cups daily has demonstrated strong epidemiological evidence of protecting the liver from cirrhosis and cancer. (Study)
What you add to your cup of Joe may decrease its health benefits. Artificial sweeteners should be shunned completely. Table sugar should be minimized. Honey, maple syrup, and real Stevia are better choices.
Adding milk or cream inhibits coffee’s inherent high antioxidant activity somewhat. Black coffee drinkers can claim bragging rights as healthier coffee drinkers. But some of us will take our caffeine boosts with cream or milk added, even if it’s not the healthier choice.
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