What is Coffee, Caffeine, and Health?

Remember, as a kid, you would see your mom heading straight for that freshly brewed pot of coffee every morning? No good morning, no hello. She simply woke up and dashed for that piping hot coffee-pot. Wondering what that black drink that makes mom wake up every morning is?

Or maybe it is your own ritual to get that iced americano every day with your besties before school. But tell me, do you really need that drink? Is your mom technically a zombie before taking that sip? It is time we settle this debate once and for all. But before anything, let’s know what coffee is…

Is coffee good for you

What is coffee?

By definition of the National Coffee Association, coffee is the berries harvested from species of the Coffee plant. But is that all? Well, you and I both can agree that it is not.

The beans that we commonly see in the superstore are processing and roaster seeds from the fruit widely known as a coffee cherry. The beans are then ground and steeped in hot water to make that delicious liquor.

But truth be told, that’s not the coffee we drink these days. We mix it up with syrups, caramel, and whipped cream to make milkshakes or frappuccinos. Are they even coffee? That remains a discussion for another day. For now, let’s find out what is there in that pure alcohol liquor and if those are what we truly need for survival more so if they are right for us.

Coffee and its contents

Coffee, in its boldest and most original form, is a cocktail of a bunch of chemicals. The most prominent and widely discussed of these chemicals are caffeine. However, their lesser-known friend is men’s polyphenols.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a chemical compound commonly found in plants and a form of insecticides. Species like kola nuts, cacao, and coffee contain them naturally.

Caffeine work in our bodies in three particular ways.

First of it dramatically increases the effect of painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen in our body. Secondly, it attaches itself to the adenosine receptor in our body and put us in fight mode. Better explaining, adenosine is a particle that keeps building in our body along the day, making us think we are weak and need sleep.

Caffeine attaches itself to those adenosine receptors and stops the sleepiness signal to go through. But what caffeine does most actively is stimulate our nervous system directly. It makes us focused and alert and consequently raising our adrenaline exponentially.

Polyphenol is the good cop for coffee. Polyphenol independently is an active ingredient in decreasing blood pressure. It is known to lessen the risk of a heart attack. It can also increase blood supply to the brain resulting in possible protection against dementia. However, polyphenols are mostly lost in darker roasts.

Preparation effect

Coffea Arabica or C. Arabica and Coffea canephora, commonly known as Robusta, are the two kinds of coffee cultivate worldwide. Arabica is a delicate cherry; it only happens on higher grounds between 20k to 60k feet above sea levels.

Ideally, these terrains host about 59 to 75 degrees with a minimum of 60 inches of rainfall per year. Arabica is almost 70% of the world’s coffee production despite being the more expensive one. These beans are subtle, mild, and aromatic. They are also lesser in caffein content.

Robusta is mostly grown in central and western Africa and the southeast part of Asia and brazil. Despite production increases, it is still 30 percent of the world coffee market. Robusta is crisper in taste and higher content of caffeine. As coffee experts will explain, it comes with a more distinct taste and odor. The smell is what you might recognize from a cup of instant coffee.

These beans are collecting, dry, and then roasted. Cultivation of coffee cherry can be quite hard due to its terrain, but these make the drink more exotic.

Depending on preference, some beans are lightly roaster and some more. A lot of people prefer blends of different bean to add in multiple notes of fruity, floral, sweetness, and acid in their coffee. Others like their coffee pure and unadulterated. It is absolutely a matter of preference.

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Caffeine, and Health

Due to its widely bussed reaction, coffee has gained so much popularity that the myths around it started annoying both producers and consumers. Backed up by various studies.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a chemical compound commonly found in plants and a form of insecticides. Species like kola nuts, cacao, and coffee contain them naturally. Caffeine seems to work in our bodies in three particular ways.

First of all, it dramatically increases the effect of painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen in our bodies. Secondly, it attaches itself to the adenosine receptor in our body and puts us in fight mode. Better, adenosine is a particle that keeps building in our body along the day, making us think we need sleep.

Caffeine attaches itself to those adenosine receptors and stops the sleepiness signal to go through. But what caffeine does most actively is stimulate our nervous system directly. It makes us focused and alert and consequently raises our adrenaline exponentially.

What is Polyphenol?

Polyphenol is the good cop for coffee. Polyphenol independently is an active ingredient in decreasing blood pressure. It is known to lessen the risk of a heart attack. It can also increase blood supply to the brain resulting in possible protection against dementia. Polyphenols are mostly lost in darker roasts.

Coffee has undeniably shown positive effects in cases like a ten percent reduction in post-menopausal cancer by consuming four cups of coffee each day, twenty percent of reduced risk of colon cancer in women, probable reduction of recurrence of liver cancer where the antagonist activity of caffeine on adenosine mediated growth-promoting effects on cells,

lowers the risk of type-2 diabetes where a major component in coffee and metabolites inhibit toxic aggregation and express beneficial effects, and reduces stroke in women where long term coffee consumption was held to be modestly decreasing chance of a stroke.

And there you have it, supported by the best studies in this world, coffee, indeed, has health benefits. But does caffeine honestly do anything?

You see, all the big words from the health benefit of coffee are supporting by chemicals in coffee like cafestol, Polyphenols, caffeic acid (CA), chlorogenic acid (CGA), etc. So, does caffeine has no positive effect? Well, no, it does show promising evidence in recurring liver cancer.

Adenosine 3 is a mediator of cancer pathways. Caffeine, being its natural antagonist, blocks its receptors making post-surgery recurrence a lot less. However, caffeine is also found to cause severe insomnia, indigestion, gout attack, and high blood pressure.

However,

Caffeine is known to increase anxiety and disrupt sleep patterns causing a vicious cycle of restless sleep. Also, people relying on caffeine to help cut through daytime fatigue are often found to deal with insomnia.

Caffeine is clinically proven to interact with medications such as thyroid medication and psychiatric drugs and anti-depression drugs, the antibiotic (Cipro), and the heartburn drug known as Tagamet.

It often increases blood sugar levels, making those already with type 2 diabetes keep their sugar level in check. This might ultimately result in high blood pressure. Doctors suggest switching to decaf under these conditions.

A restaurant espresso contains 1 ounce of caffeine, instant coffee has around 8 ounces, the typical brew has about 8 ounces, and a McDonald’s or Starbucks brew has about 16 ounces. Make no mistake that these contents are high if drunk unmoderated.

Caffeine

is also lead to bone density loss in post-menopausal women when drunk more than 3 cups a day. This results in low calcium in her diet, whereas an older woman needs 800mg of daily calcium.

What seems to be the most harmful about coffee is that it undoubtedly and most commonly messes up your stomach. A patient of acid reflux or heartburn should be a no-go to coffee.

Coffee is slightly acidic. It is also irritational to our gut. And it is coffee to its entirety, so switching to decaf from caffeinated will do you no good, neither will a change in brewing technology.

Besides, caffeine can easily relax our sphincter, which stops out stomach acid from coming up your esophagus, resulting in acid reflux. However, decaf might be the solution for your acid reflux easily. For people with high cholesterol, you better get a filtered coffee; otherwise, that cafestol will raise your LDL like crazy.

So we believe the question is still standing. Is coffee good for you? And that brings us to our next topic of discussion, dependence.

Dependence

This issue of caffeine dependence has been an ongoing debate for decades. People claim they are addicted to coffee and do not know to function correctly. It is time we lay these claims to the ground once and for all.

Let’s face it; people don’t just drink coffee because they need it. They drink it because they like it. They appreciate the behavior associated with a cup of coffee, its aroma, the taste. So, while it is true that caffeine dependence is nothing physical, it is also entitled to a new mental disorder.

Coming to caffeine dependence of not being a physical thing, a study conducted to shows that caffeine, when given to rats at a dose corresponding to HCL. Also, human consumption levels, which are 1-5mg/kg body weight or 1-5 large cups of coffee each sitting, didn’t increase energy metabolism and dopamine release in its circuit.

The same research extends to humans. Subjects in one study received 3mg/kg body weight of caffeine a day or about two large cups of coffee. Blood flow to the cerebral cortex showed that caffeine failed to activate any brain circuit of dependence in humans, just like it did in rats.

However,

It did activate regions that involve inattention, anxiety, vigilance, and areas that control vegetative functions. Hence it can be in conclusion that caffeine does not fulfill any criteria to be defining as a drug of dependence.

The other criteria to be defining as a drug of dependence is withdrawal. That is, once regularly, if abstinence causes any severe symptom of any sort, that particular item can be titled as a drug of dependence. And this is where things get muddy.

Without a doubt, caffeine withdrawal has caused severe symptoms to us all. Symptoms include lack of energy, drowsiness, headache, reduced alertness, etc. Abstinence has been documentation to cause a drastic increase in blood pressure.

Further studies showed that high consumers (950mg/day) had a limited capacity of the cerebrovascular adenosine system to compensate for the high caffeine intake content daily. These symptoms start showing at 12 to 24 hours after sudden stopping and peaks at 20 to 48 hours after cessation.

However, all studies have unanimously concluded that these withdrawal symptoms can be dramatically reduced if the intake is decreasing progressively.

Types of Coffee Beans

Coffee Arabica or C. Arabica and Coffee canephora, commonly known as Robusta, are the two kinds of coffee cultivated worldwide. Arabica is a delicate cherry; it only happens on higher grounds between 20k to 60k feet above sea levels. Ideally, these terrains host about 59 to 75 degrees with a minimum of 60 inches of rainfall per year. Arabica is almost 70% of the world’s coffee production despite being the more expensive one. These beans are subtle, mild, and aromatic. They are also lesser in caffeine content.

Robusta is most grown in central and western Africa and the southeast part of Asia and brazil. Despite production increases, it is still 30 percent of the world coffee market. Robusta is crisper in taste and higher content of caffeine. As coffee experts will explain, it comes with a more distinct taste and odor. The smell is what you might recognize from a cup of instant coffee.

How is Coffee Prepared?

Coffee beans are collected, dried, and then roasted. Cultivation of coffee cherry can be quite hard due to its terrain, but these make the drink more exotic.

Depending on preference, some beans are lightly roaster and some more. A lot of people prefer blends of different beans to add in multiple notes of fruity, floral, sweetness, and acid in their coffee. Others like their coffee pure and unadulterated. It is absolutely a matter of preference.

How Can Coffee Harm the Body?

What seems to be the most harmful about coffee is that it undoubtedly and most commonly messes up your stomach. A patient with acid reflux or heartburn should be a no-go to coffee.

Besides, caffeine can easily relax our sphincter, which stops our stomach acid from coming up your esophagus, resulting in acid reflux. However, decaf might be the solution for your acid reflux easily. For people with high cholesterol, you better get a filtered coffee; otherwise, that cafestol will raise your LDL like crazy.

What is Caffeine Dependence?

This issue of caffeine dependence has been an ongoing debate for decades. People claim they are addicted to coffee and do not know how to function correctly. It is time we lay these claims to the ground once and for all.

Let’s face it; people don’t just drink coffee because they need it. They drink it because they like it. They appreciate the behavior associated with a cup of coffee, its aroma, the taste. So, while it is true that caffeine dependence is nothing physical, it is also entitled to a new mental disorder.

Coming to caffeine dependence of not being a physical thing, a study conducted shows that caffeine, when given to rats at a dose corresponding to HCL or human consumption levels, which is 1-5mg/kg body weight or 1-5 large cups of coffee each sitting, didn’t increase energy metabolism and dopamine release in its circuit.

However, it did activate regions that involve inattention, anxiety, vigilance, and areas that control vegetative functions. Hence it can be concluded that caffeine does not fulfill any criteria to be defined as a drug of dependence.

The other criteria to be defining as a drug of dependence is withdrawal. That is, once ingest regularly, if abstinence causes any severe symptom of any sort, that particular item can be titled as a drug of dependence. And this is where things get muddy.

What are the Symptoms of Caffeine Dependence?

Without a doubt, caffeine withdrawal has caused severe symptoms to us all. Symptoms include lack of energy, drowsiness, headache, reduced alertness, etc. Abstinence has been documented to cause a drastic increase in blood pressure. Further studies showed that high consumers (950mg/day) had a limited capacity of the cerebrovascular adenosine system to compensate for the high caffeine intake content daily. These symptoms start showing at 12 to 24 hours after sudden stopping and peaks at 20 to 48 hours after cessation.

However, all studies have unanimously concluded that these withdrawal symptoms can be dramatically reduced if the intake is decreased progressively.

A Drink or a Lifestyle

Coffee, in its humblest form, has now become a lifestyle choice. For young people, the Starbucks cup of macchiato will mean an ultimate inclusive status symbol.

It is a quick drink and doughnut in the early morning instead of a healthy, hearty breakfast for adults. In these cases, the caffeine content or the effects of coffee do not matter; all that matters is that you have that warm sip of your favorite hot beverage.

On the other hand, some people tend to mix sugar, syrup, milk, or sometimes even pumpkin spices to their coffee. When done so, we fail to understand why they are drinking coffee because it cannot be necessary to drink these regularly. Thus, we are concluding that it is more of a life choice.

When pop culture Tv shows and sitcoms show us that friends hang out in coffee shops for hours, we tend to resonate with that. And we subconsciously choose to meet up in these homey spaces rather than a formal dinner at a restaurant.

The office

Can be exhausting, and drinking is not an option on a weeknight. So where else do you go to have an hour to yourself with your best buddies at work other than a coffee shop?

When conditioned under such surroundings from the very beginning, it has become a comfort zone for us. It a choice we make by default.

Thus, it is fair to say, and when you say coffee is just another drink, it is not. It has live memories to it, a good day or a bad day. Your laughter to it; it has your tears. It is a life choice for you to lose your time and money on, and there can be no wrong in doing what makes you happy.

Verdict- does coffee do you any good?

Yes, coffee does do you good, but only when in moderation. As we discussed before, coffee is a mixture of chemicals. And just like every other chemical in this world, they all have their respective benefits. Since coffee is a concoction of these all, it is better to be swallowing in moderation.

If it is genuinely the caffeine you crave for, do not just gobble down cups after cups down your throat. Know the FDA approved limit and consume accordingly.

If you believe it is not enough for you, we are telling you that you are wrong. Your body has got accustomed to specific limits that you have been intaking, but that does not necessarily mean that you need that much.

Simply reduce the amount over time. Drinking the FDA approved amount daily will get you through the day and make you function properly. Trust them; science does not lie. It will also ensure that you are truly getting all the added benefits that coffee offers appropriately to your body.

You may drink any form of coffee you wish, except boiled coffee, which is commonly swallowing in the middle east. Boiled coffee contains LDL, which means bad cholesterol. If you like your coffee boiled, filter them for your own good.

Also,

Go for that lighter roast to get the maximum benefit of that polyphenols. However, try avoiding those pods in the office for the sake of the planet. You know better than that to use one-time plastic instead.

Coming to the emotional bonding that we, as a generation, hold for coffee, well, sure, go ahead. Spend those after work hours at your favorite coffee shop. Just keep a note of the fact that it is advisable not to drink coffee after 5 pm.

Get that Frappuccino double cream macchiato with your friend to pose for that Instagram picture but make sure you keep your sugar consumption in check. And that iced americano every morning, go ahead, do not just catch a cold.

If doing these is what makes you happy, then coffee is right for you, my friend. Something that makes you happy is never wrong for you. But happiness should be swallowing in moderation as well.

Because even if we have beaten the myths around coffee today, all that negative chaos around the sugar in the coffee are all very much real.

Conclusion

Medically and physically speaking, coffee is not detrimental to your health. But even the best of all things need to swallow in moderation, and coffee is no exception.

So, drink that 5 cups of coffee a day, just don’t drink it after 5 in the afternoon. Enjoy it, savor it, have it the way you like it, but have it in moderation. Take care of your health, listen to what your body needs. When swallowing in moderation, your body will is likely to be asking for more caffeine.

On the other hand, you need to focus on the fact that it is not suitable for you. So, pay attention to your body and do what beneficial for your overall health.

As for us, we are going to sit down with a shot of espresso right now because that is just how it should be done. Cheers!

For Coffee Lovers