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The Truth Regarding Coffee: Is It Healthy or Unhealthy and How Much Should You Drink Daily?

Posted by HealthyMuslim on Saturday, January 12, 2019

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Coffee is a controversial topic and there is much difference of opinion on whether it is beneficial or harmful to health. Extensive research has been done on coffee consumption and the conclusion is that coffee is actually very beneficial and has a diverse range of health benefits.

The Benefits of Drinking Coffee

Coffee contains many important nutrients such as riboflavin (vitmain B2), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), niacin (vitamin B3), magnesium, manganese and potassium and is one of the biggest sources of antioxidants. It contains more antioxidants than most foods and is a good source of flavonoids, an antioxidant associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Caffeine itself is an antioxidant that may help to protect against Alzheimer's and other diseases.

Caffeine has been shown to boost your metabolism and increase fat mobilisation and oxidation helping you to lose weight and utilise fat as fuel. It also raises adrenaline levels in the blood which leads to an increase in energy levels, boosting your workouts and improving endurance. Coffee blunts appetite which can help with weight loss.

Research has shown that coffee improves concentration, memory, mood and overall cognitive function. Caffeine releases a chemical called dopamine which is responsible for controlling motivation and alertness. Coffee also stimulates brain cells to work and communicate faster.

Several studies show that drinking coffee may lower the risk of many diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, stroke and certain liver diseases.

Studies indicate that consuming coffee is correlated with longer life expectancy and reduced risk of mortality as well as being associated with a lower risk of developing depression.

Not All Coffee is Good For You

As we can see, coffee has many amazing benefits to health. However, just like with many foods these benefits don’t mean anything if you are drinking the wrong coffee.

Many brands of mass produced and imported coffee contain toxins which are not in the natural coffee bean itself but appear as a result of the way it is grown, processed, stored and distributed. These toxins include:

  • Acrylamide – A natural chemical found in coffee that arises due to roasting at high temperatures
  • Ochratoxin A – A mycotoxin produced by mold found on raw coffee beans as a result of collecting beans from decomposing fruits, leaving them in large piles, bad fermentation processes and storing them in the wrong humidity and temperature conditions
  • Pesticides – More than 90% of coffees worldwide are treated with pesticides and other chemcials including herbicides, fungicides, fertilisers and insectisides which poison the body and cause disease
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) – Carcinogenic compounds formed due to high temperature roasting

Most conventional coffee sold today is deficient in nutrients and made from low quality, non organic coffee beans subject to many defects that occur for a multitude of reasons. These include improper processing practices such as poor roasting, over fermentation and broken or chipped coffee beans, high levels of mold, insect damage, oxidation, improper harvesting, improper moisture content and low standard testing and checking practices. Moreover, if coffee has been sitting for too long it becomes stale and the oils go rancid.

In order to ensure that you are getting the maximum benefit from drinking coffee, only choose coffee that is fresh and grown organically without the use of pesticides and other chemicals. Only purchase from brands that use proper processing, sourcing and production of coffee beans as well as good storage and transportation practices so that the nutritional value is maintained and toxin accumulation and defects minimised.

What About Caffeine?

It is important to note that the effects of drinking coffee vary from person to person. Common symptoms of consuming too much caffeine include:

  • anxiety
  • restlessness
  • irritability
  • increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • dizziness
  • tremors
  • digestive issues
  • addiction
  • trouble sleeping

If you experience any of these symptoms after drinking coffee, then you may be sensitive to caffeine and you may need to either reduce your consumption of coffee or avoid it altogether.

Some sources suggest that 3-4 cups of coffee a day are safe for most healthy adults. Some people drink more than that without any experiencing any issues. Some people can drink coffee right before bed and go to sleep. For others, it keeps them awake throughout the night. Everyone has different tolerance levels depending on their genetic makeup as well as how much they are used to drinking so listen to your body and see what is best for you.

The quality of the coffee is a big factor as discussed above. Bad coffee is toxic and many people find that these symptoms go away when they switch from mass market, conventional coffee to pure, organic coffee.

For women who are pregnant, it is not recommended to consume coffee or at least reduce your intake as some reports show a link between excessive caffeine consumption to low birth weight and miscarriages.

Caffeine is also not recommended for people with anxiety or nervous disorders.


Research

Coffee consumption and health: umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes
https://www.bmj.com/content/359/bmj.j5024

Coffee and Health: A Review of Recent Human Research
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408390500400009

Effects of caffeine on human health
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0265203021000007840

The Impact of Coffee on Health
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28675917

The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-3010.2007.00665.x

Coffee consumption and total mortality: a meta-analysis of twenty prospective cohort studies
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24279995

Effects of caffeine ingestion on rating of perceived exertion during and after exercise: a meta‐analysis
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2005.00445.x

Caffeine and coffee: their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals
https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article-abstract/33/5/989/4692739

Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1112010


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