If you’re reading this article, then we’re willing to bet you’re one of us: a heavy coffee drinker. In the age of go-getters and fast-movers, coffee is what helps us keep our pace. It’s safe to say that we’re not ourselves without a cup or two of it each day.
Many people refer to caffeine as a ‘drug’ due to its addictive nature. In fact, statistics actually provide some support to that claim. In the United States alone, more than 450 million cups of coffee are poured each and every day. So it’s really no wonder that chains like Starbucks are thriving!
But is coffee really all that good for your health? Is it as bad as any other drug? As with most things in life, there are benefits and drawbacks to drinking coffee every day. So let’s take a closer look at both sides:
The Benefits of Drink coffee
According to plenty of research conducted over the years, there are many potential health benefits to drinking coffee.
Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Several studies including one conducted by Finnish researchers back in 2004 showed that there was a correlation between the amount of coffee consumed and risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes. It concluded that the more cups of coffee you drink (specifically caffeinated coffee), the lesser the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Other studies that focused on the same correlation seemed to have arrived at the same conclusion.
So, how exactly does coffee do it? According to one particular study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, there is a substance in coffee that controls the levels of SHBG. SHBG is a protein which oversees the functions of both testosterone and estrogen- our sex hormone. These two, in turn, are partly responsible for people developing type 2 diabetes.
Reduced Risk of Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease is one that affects our nervous system. At first, patients experience slight tremors and slowness. As the disease progresses, motor functions degrade and a lot of patients find themselves unable to carry out the simplest movements.
Several studies including one published by Dr. Lorraine Kalia and Dr. Anthony Lang found that drinking coffee played a role in reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease. It also seems that drinking coffee allows patients to have better control of their motor functions.
Reduced Risk of Liver disease
If you’re worried about the health of your liver, then you’re in luck. A large number of studies have concluded than drinking two or more cups a day can do wonders for it. A number of clinical trials, each focusing on different liver conditions (from cancer to cirrhosis) have found that some ingredients in coffee help to reduce the risk of you acquiring them.
In fact, some studies say that drinking three cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of liver cancer by as much as 50% percent! So if someone grumbles to you about drinking too much coffee, tell them you’re just being healthy.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Want a healthy heart? After analyzing several studies which included a total of 140,220 participants, researchers say that drinking 2 cups of coffee a day can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
However, scientists caution not to go overboard with drinking coffee for the sake of heart health. In fact, evidence from that same study suggests that once your start exceeding 5 cups, it can have the opposite effect.
So even if you’re the biggest coffee fanatic, we suggest you keep it to 3-4 cups a day.
The Drawbacks of drinking coffee
Now that we’ve talked about how coffee contributes to good health, let’s take a look at the other side of the argument: the risks and negative side effects.
Increased risk of gut conditions
One of the harmful things that coffee does is increasing the amount of hydrochloric acid which is pumped into the stomach. Normally, acidic conditions are required to digest protein present in our meals. However, when you strain the stomach to produce more acid by drinking coffee, it may not have enough to digest a large meal.
When protein is improperly digested, it can lead to gastritis, which is the inflammation of the stomach. In addition, this can also cause other problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and even colon cancer.
In addition, researchers have found that certain substances in the coffee can damage the stomach and the small intestine’s lining. So if you have conditions like stomach ulcers, it’s best to refrain from coffee completely before it progresses into something worse.
Coffee has laxative-like properties, which can be useful in certain scenarios. However sometimes this means that your stomach decides to pass on partially undigested food into the small intestine. The result is that fewer nutrients are absorbed from the food which increases the chances of gut inflammation.
Reduced mineral absorption
Your body requires minerals like magnesium, iron and calcium to perform a whole host of important functions, including digestion. Coffee has a tendency to reduce the mineral absorption; iron through the stomach and magnesium and calcium through the kidneys.
In conclusion, drinking coffee has pros and cons. The key here is to moderate it by not exceeding three to four cups a day. However if you have certain pre-existing conditions such as stomach ulcers, you may need to consult your doctor before you continue to drink coffee.
To read more on topics like this, check out the health category.