Coffee and Your Health: The Good, the Bad and the Ugh

coffee

Most of us enjoy a cup or 2 of coffee a day with no problem. Does it harm? Turns out it may be good or it may be bad.

First, caffeine is an addicting stimulant drug. Not everybody becomes addicted. But when you need it to wake you up and when you don’t get it you’re tired and irritable and have a killer headache – you’re addicted. If you have palpitations, breast cysts, insomnia, stomach problems and your doctor tells you coffee is harmful for you and you keep drinking it – you’re addicted.

If I could get away with it safely I would. I loved coffee, the taste, the clear mind and energy to keep going when I was exhausted, and too busy to eat right or get enough sleep. I got hooked and I paid the price. Now I occasionally enjoy a cup. Once in awhile I even think I can do it again, but it doesn’t take long to remind me that I do not miss the daily migraines, the colitis, the lost sleep, and the fatigue. I don’t want to run on fake energy from adrenalin, cortisol, stress hormones stimulated by coffee.

We know from clinical experience and studies that caffeine can increase the risk of stillbirths and iron deficiency in mothers and babies. Excessive coffee can cause heart arrhythmias and even sudden death. It can raise blood pressure, raises cholesterol and homocysteine – risk factors for heart disease, depression and dementia.

Caffeine intake is associated with earlier onset of Huntington Disease. Coffee can lead to sleep deprivation that promotes inflammation, disease and premature aging. It can interfere with blood sugar and insulin, increase estrogen levels, risk of breast cancer, menstrual problems, endometriosis, and is associated with ulcers, incontinence, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

In the last few years there has been a surge of research on coffee and health. There appears to be some benefits. More research is in order but studies suggest coffee may decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, of cardiovascular disease, all cause mortality, delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, decrease the risk of depression and stroke in women, decrease the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Heavy use may reduce the risk for endometrial, prostate, head and neck, basal cell, ER negative breast cancer, liver & kidney cancers, colorectal cancer in women, liver disease, dry eye syndrome, gout, and MRSA nasal carriage.

You decide. But if you put sugar, artificial sweeteners, cream or artificial creamers in it, you’ll likely cancel out any potential benefits. Coffee is heavily sprayed with pesticides, so go organic. One study showed cadmium, a toxic metal, is found in coffee plants and beans. Sewage sludge used to fertilize coffee increases the risk for this metal contamination. Solvents are used in decaffeinating coffee including “naturally decaffeinated organic coffee”.

Look for water extracted. Paper filters may remove ingredients that increase cholesterol. Avoid white filters as bleach, dioxins and other nasty chemicals may get in your coffee. The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee can range from about 85-140 mg for a 5 oz cup to 550 in a coffee grande in one popular coffee house.  According to Medline Plus, 250 mg of caffeine a day is not associated with any risk. The higher caffeine levels are more addicting and more toxic. Coffee is an antioxidant. Get the freshest. Stale antioxidants might have harmful health effects.

www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/19/is-coffee-bad-for-you_n_1895557.html; articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/09/16/coffee-health-benefits.aspx http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_coffee; www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/coffee#5

 

Information shared here is not intended as medical advice, and cannot substitute for professional medical advice and information. Information provided is general in nature and may be helpful to some people but not others, depending on their personal medical needs. Always consult with your personal physician before changing or undertaking a new exercise program or following advice designed for general audiences only. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay getting care because of something you have read here.

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