So much has been said about these so-called magical beans. If you’re familiar with the legend, you’d know why it’s been associated with magic.
A story is told about an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi, in the Kaffe region of Ethiopia, about 800 AD. After consuming the red berries, he noted how alert and animated his goats became and how they even stayed awake during the night. Whether true or not, we do know that if we want (or need) to stay awake, alert, alive, and enthusiastic at night (like I do right now), coffee is typically the first thing that comes to mind as a solution (or companion).
In all of these years of my romance with coffee, I have read so much stuff about it — the good, the bad, the verified, as well as the *still* unverified bits about it. My doctor at the Asian Breast Center in Centuria Medical Makati even advised me to go easy on my consumption and I don’t even go beyond five cups (giant cups?) daily. To him, as an expert in his field, when it comes to taking care of one’s health, it’s really better to prevent a disease than cure one. To be honest, this is one thing I have the hardest time giving up even with the sparing acid reflux attack. If need be, I know I’ll have to forego my love for coffee. For now, I will enjoy it with all my heart. Here, let’s explore its benefits according to some of the reputable reads I found.
It’s a potent source of antioxidants. Approximately 1,000 antioxidants have been found by scientists in unprocessed coffee beans, and hundreds more develop during the roasting process. As some of you may know, antioxidants fight inflammation, which can be an underlying cause of many chronic conditions such as arthritis and many types of cancers, to mention. Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals which cause oxidative stress that leads to chronic diseases. Our antioxidant friends help keep us healthy by protecting our cells from damage.
Short-term memory boost, anyone? There was a study conducted by Austrian researchers wherein volunteers received a dose of 100 milligrams of caffeine (about the same amount in a single cup of coffee), and had a surge in their brain activity, as measured by functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI) while performing a memory task. Significant, right? Turns out, caffeine appears to affect the areas of the brain responsible for memory and concentration, thus providing a boost to short-term memory though it’s not clear how long the effect lasts and how it varies from person to person.
It may help protect against cognitive decline. Medical experts have theorized that regular coffee consumption may help prevent cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. One promising Finnish study has found that drinking three to five cups of coffee daily at midlife was associated with a 65 percent decrease risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia in later life. The theory points out that caffeine prevents the buildup of beta-amyloid plaque that may contribute to the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Researchers also think that since coffee drinking may be associated with decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, a risk factor for dementia, its consumption also lowers the risk of developing dementia. Also, these are theories, still, it is promising.
It is a friend to your heart. There is a landmark Dutch study that analyzed data from more than 37,000 people over a period of 13 years, where it was found that moderate coffee drinkers (those who consume between two to four cups daily) had a 20 percent lower risk of developing heart diseases compared to heavy or light coffee drinkers, and nondrinkers. So the operative word here is “moderate” (coffee drinkers). Apparently, there is some evidence that coffee may support heart health by protecting against arterial damage caused by inflammation. Go ask your heart doctor about this, if I may suggest.
It may help lower the risk of developing certain cancers. A recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that consuming four or more cups of coffee daily decreased the risk of endometrial cancer in women by 25 percent as compared to women who drank less than one cup a day. It’s also been said that men who drink coffee may be at a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. There is also an association between regular drinking of coffee and lower rates of liver, colon, breast, and rectal cancers. It appears that antioxidant phytochemicals found in coffee carry anticarcinogenic properties that are said to help reduce the inflammation that may be responsible for some tumors.
Coffee is a liver lover. Aside from lowering the risk of liver cancer, coffee consumption is also linked to a lower incidence of cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis. The Archives of Internal Medicine has a study showing an inverse correlation between increased coffee consumption and a 20 percent decrease in risk of cirrhosis for each cup consumed (up to four cups).
For when you need to up the ante of your workout performance. You have probably heard statements about caffeine being a dehydrating fix. While caffeinated drinks may have a mild diuretic effect, meaning they cause the need to urinate, they don’t appear to increase the risk of dehydration. Recent research suggests that moderate caffeine consumption of up to 500 mg (about five cups per day) does not dehydrate you enough to interfere with your exercise. It even helps combat fatigue, which can help you exercise longer being that it also acts as an endurance enhancer. As an aside, it also strengthens muscle contraction, reduces one’s perception of pain, and increases fatty acids in the blood, which supports endurance. So yeah, more reason to drink coffee for those of us who love to exercise.
It staves off depression. There have been multiple studies linking coffee drinking to lowered rates of depression in both men and women. Researchers are not certain yet as to how coffee seems to curb depression, however, it is known that caffeine activates neurotransmitters that control mood, including dopamine and serotonin, the chemical messengers that help regulate many bodily functions including feelings of pleasure and reward.
Your guard against gout. Researchers at the Nurses’ Health Study analyzed the health habits of nearly 90,000 female nurses over a period of 26 years and found that women who drank one cup of decaf coffee per day were associated with a 23 percent reduced risk of gout compared to the women who didn’t drink at all. Similar findings have been documented for men, as published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, where men who drank four to five cups of coffee per day decreased their risk of gout by 40 percent. According to the study, coffee’s antioxidant properties may decrease the risk of gout by decreasing insulin, which in turn lowers uric acid levels, the culprit in causing gout when in high concentrations.
So, judging from these potential health benefits, coffee consumption is good.
Here’s the downside though…
While these benefits of drinking coffee are exciting, remember that moderation is key. Also for some people, coffee can cause irritability, nervousness, and anxiety when taken in high doses. It can also affect the quality of your sleep or may cause insomnia. I have a friend who seems to be allergic to coffee. Whenever she takes more than two or three sips, she feels as though there is a thick lump in her throat which gives her discomfort. Long story short, caffeine affects every person differently, so if you experience any negative side effects, stop your coffee consumption right away and consult your doctor.
Usually, it takes about six hours for the effects of the caffeine to wear off so keep that in mind when drinking coffee, especially at night, unless you intend to stay up all night. If you are planning to lessen your intake, do it gradually. Avoid doing cold turkey quitting as it can lead to undesirable withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and fatigue that may last for days.
(Sources: onemedical.com; The New York Coffee Guide book; and HealthyOptions lifestyle news digest)
And yes, still speaking about coffee…
Some warm coffee flavors from Starbucks to embrace you
Starbucks Philippines decided it’s time to turn over a new leaf and shake things up a little by introducing warm flavors of fall that may just make you fall in love a bit more, if not with coffee and this coffee company, then perhaps with the season. Try their new handcrafted flavors Brown Sugar Soymilk Ice Shaken Espresso and Brown Sugar Cocoa Oatmilk Frappuccino, as well as a returning favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte, along with their array of sweet and savory snacks to complement your choice of fall-inspired beverage. They also just announced the release of their new line of collectible cups and tumblers. You know what, just visit any Starbucks branch to check these out.
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