Published: 10/20/2015 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
A lot of people around the world habitually drink coffee almost daily, and we don’t pay that much attention to it…but what is it we are truly drinking? Coffee just might be the most highly used medicinal plant around the world. In fact, preparing it as an infusion (the plant or powder, to which warm water is added- generally 100 degrees Celsius). But what effects does this have on the body?
I feel like this is one of those things we do unconsciously. We heal ourselves with coffee just like a sick animal knows which plant to eat to heal themselves, although they never knew anything about pharmaceuticals, medicine or science.
Coffee, like the majority of substances around the world, can be toxic in large quantities. That’s why it’s a good idea to avoid consuming more than 5 or 6 cups a day. Obviously, throughout this article we are going to be referring to ground coffee, not to instant coffee or dissolving coffee. These properties are surely much different from those of original coffee (and has much more damaging effects rather than beneficial, if I do say so myself).
Coffee’s Beneficial Effects
According to several studies, people that consume two cups of coffee a day present a lower risk of suffering for Alzheimer’s disease, as well as a reduced risk of suffering from Parkinson’s.
According to a study performed by Harvard and British Columbia, coffee reduces the risk of suffering from gout, a disease characterized by the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the body, especially in the joints. This risk was reduced by up to 40% in individuals that drank 4 to 5 cups a day. This percentage is not easily overlooked, and is apparently an easy and simple way to improve health in patients with this disease.
There is also a direct relationship between the risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes and drinking coffee. Drinking coffee can reduce this risk by 50% or more. This was shown in a study performed in Helsinki, Finland, the country with the highest rate of coffee is consumed around the world, whereby adults drink 9 cups a day.
Obviously, just like the risk with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and gout, drinking coffee helps prevent theses diseases, and while the disease is developing it can also be a powerful helper, and wonderful medicine, for treating these conditions.
Coffee also reduces the appearance of gallstones (crystals that form in the gallbladder ducts that can create serious problems, like jaundice, bleeding, liver damage, etc.), and it generally fights all infections related to the gallbladder, especially in men. This also applies to alcoholics, reducing their risk of cirrhosis by 30% in individuals that habitually drink alcohol. These individuals also can benefit in regards to hepatocellular types of cancer (those that affect the liver). You could say that as a general rule, the liver is improved with coffee consumption.
Coffee also acts as an analgesic, helping especially people with migraines and asthma (this last part I verified myself, having suffered from asthma since I was 4 years old).
It is very helpful for the majority of cardiovascular conditions, although no one knows why because it reduces excess fat circulating through the blood, because it is a stimulant, or because of its antioxidant effects.
It is a good laxative, as it powerfully stimulates peristalsis in the intestines. This helps promote bowel movements when constipated.
It’s also a good diuretic. This means that it helps eliminate water and electrolytes thanks to the caffeine in it. This is the most well-known compound in coffee.
It strengthens short-term memory and IQ as it stimulates the nervous system. Individuals that drink coffee perform better with all sorts of cognitive functions, both perceptive and effective,, because it makes the nervous system more “active” and prepared.
And lastly, it promotes neoglucogenesis, which is the body’s production of glucose molecules (carbohydrates) by using lipids and amino acids.
Coffee’s harmful effects
The most visible harmful effects are undoubtedly the effects of the caffeine and potentially, the abuse thereof. Coffee can cause insomnia, making it more difficult to go to sleep, especially in individuals that are prone to this condition, and individuals with a very sensitive nervous system.
Coffee can also cause irritability, bad moods, headaches, and anxiety attacks because of its stimulating properties for the nervous system. Each person is an individual and each of us need to appreciate how his/her body feels with coffee (or any other substance), and then decide if it is a good idea for you.
This is also very negative for people that suffer from hypertension, as it has the potential to increase blood pressure quickly, and for a long period of time.
It can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, like diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea, in individuals that are coffee intolerant.
Coffee increases cholesterol levels as it releases body fat into the blood stream. This means that individuals with high cholesterol, or people with conditions that disturb cholesterol levels, need to be very careful with coffee. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, really, because cholesterol is released into the blood stream so that it can be eliminated or transformed. That’s why this initial high cholesterol, if you recognize it and eat a healthy diet, could have wonderful health benefits.
We also do not recommend consuming large amounts of coffee during pregnancy. In fact, some people believe you should completely stop drinking coffee during pregnancy. I completely agree with these beliefs because of simple logic: if we as adults notice an obvious increase in heart rate after drinking coffee, imagine the effects this would have on the tiny hearts and nervous system of the baby that is still growing.
Dependency: If consumed regularly and in certain amounts throughout a period of time, coffee creates a dependency. If you then do not consume coffee, it will create symptoms like headache, depression, anxiety, irritability, lack of concentration and fatigue.
Just like everything else in existence in this world, we can’t classify coffee as good or bad. It is simply a substance with different effects on people, that could be beneficial for some and not so much for others. It all depends on the individual, on where you are in your life, the way you are, the way you see the world, and what you’re looking for.
Now that you know a little bit about this daily element in our lives, you can choose to drink it (or not drink it) with more consciousness, knowing all the good it can provide, and all the precautions that need to be taken at certain times of your life, especially for pregnant women.
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