Coffee: friend or foe?
If there is one drink that has many haters and as many lovers, it is probably coffee. I love coffee. Tom and I used to have this morning ritual that we’ve had for 26 years. And that is to start the day with a cup of coffee in the morning. In bed. Even now while living alone I still have the same ritual. I wake up, go downstairs to feed the cats, make myself a cup of coffee and go back to drink it in bed while going through social media.
Yesterday I decided to see what would happen if I stopped drinking coffee for a couple of days.
Yesterday was the first day and by mid morning a headache was starting to develop. Not pleasant but it wasn’t bad enough for me to take an aspirin. Having said that: I am not the pill swallowing kind so someone else would probably have chosen some form of medication.
I did sleep more soundly than normal. I was a bit tired in the evening and went to bed early at around 10 pm. Woke up this morning at 7.30. The headache is gone but I do feel slightly tired. Could also be the excessive heat of the moment. It doesn’t feel very out of the ordinary.
Advantages of coffee
Of course if you search on the internet you find many pros and cons of drinking coffee. When I did my study for natural nutrition the advice was to stop drinking coffee as it is not good for your liver. It puts an extra strain on this most important organ. It wasn’t serious enough for me to stop coffee and funny enough there seems to be some beneficial effects on the liver too.
- Prevention of Alzheimers Disease. I found this an interesting one given that my father died of Alzheimers last year. Did he drink coffee? Yes he did. How much I honestly don’t know. According to the study the amount of caffeine is important here.
- Prevention of Parkinsons. Both are neurodegenerative diseases and have been linked to similar causes before so I guess not too surprising that this is mentioned as something that can help prevent Parkinsons. My mother died of Parkinsons and she did drink coffee in normal amounts.
- Lowering risk of diabetes type II. To be honest I think there are better ways to prevent diabetes than to consume large amounts of coffee. The effect of the lowered risk to get diabetes was actually not due to the caffeine alone but due to the various antioxidants present in coffee. For each caffeinated cup of coffee the risk per cup lowered 9% but for decaf the risk also decreased with 6%
- Protection against cirrhosis of the liver. Apparently drinking a couple of cups a day reduces the risk of dying from cirrhosis. I guess that means you have to have the cirrhosis first… I guess it would be best to prevent that from happening in the first place.
There are a couple of other reported health benefits, such as prevents against heart disease, prevention against depression etc. I even found one that mentions fiber as a pro… Not sure if coffee is the way for more fiber..
Find more info here.
Disadvantages of coffee
While there are many reports pros to drinking coffee, there are almost as many cons to drinking excessive amounts of that same beverage. I’m listing a few here but the list goes on. It’s easy to find various studies on the use of caffeine and wether it is good or not so good. Among the reported disadvantages of coffee consumption you can find the following:
- Increase of blood pressure. This is especially true for people already suffering from high blood pressure. In people with normal blood pressure this isn’t necessarily true.
- Increased risk for osteoporosis (especially in menopausal women)
- People that drink enormous amounts of coffee are more likely to also smoke and have a bad health overall. It’s probably hard to pinpoint cause and effect in this one though.
- Digestive issues. Especially people with ulcers or IBS should probably be careful with drinking coffee. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach stimulates the production of Hydrocloric acid. This should only be produced for digesting large meals and producing it for coffee, means you might not have enough to process your actual food later in the day. Bad digestion is always an issue as a lot of your health lies in your gut. So making your gut happy is essential for good health.
- Insomnia. Too much coffee right before bedtime is known to be really bad for your sleep. But since the caffeine stays in your system longer than one or two hours the effect of coffee might be worse than you think.
- Nervousness. We’ve all had days where we drink too much coffee and end up being nervous, sweaty, with elevated heart rates and a jittery feeling.
So should you drink coffee? I think in moderation it is probably ok to drink a few cups a day. I’m testing to see what will happen for me personally in the coming days. A good reason to quit coffee might be to improve your sleep. I tend to have periods where I sleep really bad and maybe taking down the coffee will help. The same goes for hot flushes. I’ve suffered from those for two years now and while the weather is as hot as it is right now, it’s pretty bad. So anything that possibly helps to get rid of them I will try!
At the end of the day I think it is a rather personal decision. I love a good cup of coffee but if it helps with my sleep and prevents those hot flushes? I’ll gladly give it up.
This article was originally written in 2018.