Drink to Your Health

Drink to Your Health

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The distinctive aroma of the coffee aisle, the sweet fragrance of Starbucks, the scent that lingers in the air on a weekend morning — ah, the sensual, comforting smell of coffee. It really can be the best of waking up with a certain brand of coffee in your cup. So what gives with the controversy over health risks and benefits of this age-old brew? The information found is so amazing, you have to read it to believe it!

The Benefits

Recently there have been reports of how consuming your daily cup of java can actually be beneficial to your health. The amount of how much to consume is still in debate, but studies have shown the added benefits of sipping a cup or so a day.

  • Antioxidants: Coffee is actually the No. 1 antioxidant consumed in America! It contains methylpyridinium, which is an anticancer compound, and is formed during the roasting process, packing more antioxidant punch than blueberries, green tea or even red wine! You can have your daily dose of antioxidants anyway with coffee — it’s present in regular, decaf and instant.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Those antioxidants in coffee actually have been found to lower your risk of getting Type 2 Diabetes! There are special antioxidants that aid in how our bodies processes sugar, so much so that a Harvard study reports it cuts women’s risk by 30 percent and a whopping 54 percent for men than those who don’t drink coffee.
  • Parkinson’s Disease: Studies have shown that those who have a few cups of daily joe are considerably less likely to get Parkinson’s Disease.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and cognitive performance: As with Parkinson’s, people who consume about two cups of coffee a day are also less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Coffee has also been shown to improve memory. Studies show a decline in cognitive loss in older men, while women over 80 years of age performed better on cognitive tests who drank coffee on a regular basis throughout their lives. Also, in other tests, coffee consumption has proven to increase short term memory, IQ, verbal memory and reaction times.
  • Liver disease: Did that long night of drinking kill your liver? Drink some coffee! OK, so it’s not that quick of a fix, but research shows that avid coffee drinkers show less liver damage, even for people who are high risk with alcohol abuse, cirrhosis and hepatitis. There have even been findings that it helps in reducing the risk of getting liver cancer.
  • Muscle pain: Drink a couple cups of caffeinated coffee before working out and you can ease those sore muscles during and after. Still remember to stretch!
  • Gallstones and kidney stones: Drinking caffeinated coffee can help keep these nasty (and painful) stones at bay. Why caffeinated? Caffeine increases stomach acid secretion, which in turn helps with digestions.
  • Increases peristalsis: Peristalsis is the contraction of the muscles that push contents through your digestive tract. In other words, coffee is basically nature’s laxative.
  • Headaches: Drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee can help your headache and pain medicine pack more of a punch. Caffeine constricts the dilated blood vessels, thus minimizing your discomfort.
  • Fiber: Coffee actually is a good source of soluble fiber, more than other common drinks such as apple or grape juice and milk.



The Risks

As with every up, there is a down. While caffeine content is the most commonly known downfall of coffee, other factors can be found in the brewing process.

  • Sleep: The drink that wakes us up and heightens our alertness can also cause insomnia.
  • Teeth: Every dentists says it, coffee stains your teeth.
  • Constipation: Even though coffee acts as a natural “digestive stimulant,” it can lead to dehydration just like other laxatives. Dehydration = constipation.
  • Pregnancy: Ask an avid coffee drinking woman what was the hardest thing to give up when they found out they were expecting, and you will probably hear, “coffee!” There are links to heavy coffee consumption and risks to a fetus, including stillbirths. Even decaf is snubbed because of the chemicals used when removing caffeine. Coffee can even contribute to fertility problems, even with men.
  • Cholesterol and heart disease: There is a brewing process in which a French press method is used that actually traps oils that are usually caught by paper filters. The oils found have been shown to increase LDL cholesterol. Boiled coffee also contains a high level of cafestol, a molecule found in coffee, which increases LDL cholesterol.
  • Blood Pressure and heart beat: Due to the caffeine in coffee, regular joe speeds up your heart beat and can increase blood pressure.

Lifestyle and other factors can contribute to the benefits and risks of this delectable drink, so talk to your doctor about your individual health. Coffee can be healthy, but be cautious of what you put in it. Sugar, creamer, caramel drizzle, whipped topping or whatever your sinful additions is — remember it all adds an unbelievable amount of unnecessary carbohydrates and calories. Make those kinds of cups an occasional treat instead of a daily dose. So sit back, put your feet up and enjoy a hot cup of coffee — it just might do your body and soul good.