I am a coffee lover. I love a strong Italian cappuccino with fluffy milk on top without sugar, flavours or creams. I can really enjoy sipping it with some friends in a bistro, with my husband at the dinner table or totally alone on the couch with a piece of dark chocolate to dip into it. On average I drink two cups a day, sometimes three and I love it.
Besides the taste I also love that it always makes me feel a bit less hungry and it is a very low-calorie drink (when nothing else than milk is added).
One day I visited some friends over the weekend and we had a coffee for breakfast. I thought it wasn’t that strong but it tasted good. During that day I felt very tired and slowly I developed a headache.
The same happened the next day. I found this very strange since there was nothing that really could explain my fatigue. The third day, when I was making the coffee, I discovered that we were drinking decaf the whole time and it dawned on me that this must be the reason for my weariness.
This experience got me thinking…
Coffee is the third most consumed beverage in the world after water and tea and the second most commonly consumed beverage in the United States and Europe. Coffee consumption has become associated with certain lifestyles and fads ranging from stylish Italian coffee bars to Starbucks chains and George Clooney promoting Nespresso as a luxurious treat.
Coffee is used to socialize with friends, for taking breaks, to accompany important meetings, as a welcoming drink for interviews, as an excuse to get a date to stay the night, to increase attention while driving long distances or studying for an important exam.
It is used to get rid of a hangover, or just to wake you up in the morning, as a tasty way to free wireless, to get noticed by your boss or as an ending to a great dinner.
Coffee is associated with social behaviour that represents a culture that is blended into our society and its consumption has become a habit to millions of people mostly due to its caffeine content.
The question about coffee has always been: is good or bad for you? Since so many people drink coffee daily this is a very valid question and researchers have been debating this question for many years.
When looking at the many studies that have been done on this topic the following conclusions can be drawn:
Coffee is rich in antioxidants and when filtered lowers blood cholesterol which may cause many health benefits. One to three cups of coffee a day have a positive effect on mood and a positive effect on subjective self-related feelings like wellbeing, calmness, alertness, energy, and ability to concentrate. It makes people report that they feel energetic, imaginative, efficient, self-confident, alert, able to concentrate, and motivated to work.
Moderate daily intake of coffee has also been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, heart failure, Diabetes, ischemic stroke, serious arrhythmias, breast, uterus and prostate cancer as well as colon cancer. Moderate coffee intake has also be associated with slowing down cognitive decline and lowering the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease and a reduction of suicide and dying of all causes.
High intake of coffee and unfiltered coffee on the contrary may result in an increased risk of bone fractures, sleeplessness, increased levels of cholesterol and risk of heart disease and when drinking coffee is stopped abruptly withdrawal effects like headaches, fatigue, feelings of weakness, impaired concentration, and irritability may occur.
These symptoms usually start 12 to 24 h after you stop drinking caffeine and reach a peak after 20 to 48 h. They almost never occur when caffeine consumption is slowly decreased.
Drinking coffee high on sweeteners, high fat cream, toppings or sugary flavours may increase obesity and diabetes and you should be careful with drinking more than one or two cups of coffee a day when pregnant since it passes easily through the placenta.
And what about feeling anxious or having palpitations while drinking coffee?
Research shows that people who don’t drink coffee regularly or only drink low amounts seem to be more sensitive to the stimulant effects of the caffeine in coffee.
Meaning that the amount of coffee a person can drink and feel good about may vary greatly. When you start having palpitations, feeling stressed, having sleeping problems or start trembling you obviously drank too much but there is no evidence that health problems occur under the amount of 5 cups a day.
Health benefits in general are observed by a daily intake of 1-3 cups of coffee and adverse effects by an intake of an average of 4 or more cups of coffee a day.
If you like drinking coffee you can benefit the most by following these guidelines:
Health benefits of coffee outweigh the risks for most people when used in moderation. If you don’t drink coffee already, there’s no need to start. You can get similar benefits with exercise or healthier eating.
Drink coffee in moderation at an average of 1-4 cups a day and 1-2 when pregnant. When feeling palpitations, headaches, fatigue, anxiousness or sleeplessness cut down on the daily amount.
Drink it filtered and pure with no more than some (soy)milk and very little sweetener.
Let me know about your coffee drinking habits, what do you get out of your cup of coffee and what side effects do you experience most?