Thursday, February 2, 2012

The great coffee debate

To coffee or not to coffee? That is the question. Whether you’re a one-a-day kinda person, an abstainer, or a chain coffee drinker, there’s no doubt you have wondered at some point whether the stuff is good for you or not. And if you drink it, how much of it is actually okay?

Caffeine perks
Improves alertness and concentration
Improves mood at a consumption level of 200mg (roughly 2 regular cups)
Helps combat muscular pain by stimulating the release of B-endorphins and other pain-reducing hormones
Improves endurance: consumed one hour prior to exercise, caffeine increases performance and can assist in weight loss and/or maintenance
Helps prevent diabetes through the minerals and antioxidants it contains
Helps prevent Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s by keeping dopamine molecules active
Helps manage asthma if consumed moderately, and may be used to prevent an attack
Enhances the effect of medication (eg. painkillers) through blood vessel constriction

Caffeine drawbacks
Blood sugar swings: coffee causes a temporary surge in blood sugar and a spike in insulin production, followed by a crash in blood sugar levels
Adrenal fatigue: coffee gets your cortisol going and stimulates your adrenals, leaving them flat afterwards. You get that ‘wired but tired’ feeling and crave coffee no2! Vicious cycle.
Emotional disturbances: coffee can aggravate stress, anxiety, irritability and depression
Sleep disruption: particularly if you’re an after-lunch coffee drinker
Gastrointestinal problems: coffee can cause heartburn/reflux and increase the risk of ulcers
Nutritional deficiencies: it prevents the absorption of certain nutrients, particularly minerals
Ageing: caffeine dehydrates and promotes the decline of anti-ageing hormones

Our verdict
Like many things, coffee is good for you in moderation. It also doesn’t agree with everyone so each case should be examined individually. If you do choose to drink it, stick to a max of two cups daily, before 2pm, and pick a good quality coffee (not instant), minus the frills – cream, milk or a good quality dairy alternative is fine but skip the sugar, artificial sweetener, syrups, etc.

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