Is Coffee Bad For You? The Scientific Answer
How many health nuts have smugly told you that they have given up coffee because it’s not good for you? I’m sure more than one. But is coffee bad for you?
Okay maybe I shouldn’t call them nuts, because good health is definitely important. But whoever said that you can’t be healthy and enjoy coffee? Too much of anything is always bad for you, of course. Still that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy coffee and still be healthy. Let’s examine for a moment the science behind coffee and take a closer look at what many physicians are now saying about coffee and the impacts on your health.
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Why Do Many Believe Coffee Is Bad
In the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s, there were many studies that were released that linked coffee to many types of cancers. This has led to the rise of the belief that drinking coffee can be hazardous to our health. Since that time, many new studies have been performed that paint a very different picture, but because of those early studies, many people still believe that coffee is actually bad for you.
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Health Benefits of Coffee
There are many benefits out there to be found when you drink coffee. If you drink it properly, you could even see reduced risks for developing certain types of disease. In most cases, the health benefits of coffee far outweigh any negative side effects of coffee.
Are you worried you may develop diabetes as you age? Why not a little coffee to prevent it from happening. In a study of lab rats, coffee increased their sensitivity to insulin. With an increased insulin response, the overall risk of diabetes dropped in the rats.
Scientists aren’t quite sure why this happens, but in a related study, decaffeinated coffee was used. While the rats risk of diabetes was also reduced, it was 50% lower compared to regular coffee. This suggests that caffeine plays a vital part as well as other compounds found in coffee.
Ever since Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the world has seen firsthand the debilitating effects of this disease. As time goes on, patients continue to lose control of their body. However, there are things you can do to help stop it from forming.
Coffee has been showing in many studies to reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. In one study of Japanese-American men, the study found that the chances of developing Parkinson’s decreased gradually as coffee consumption rose from 4 ounces to more than 24 ounces each day. Want to do your part to prevent Parkinson’s? Just start drinking coffee.
Do you have trouble with cavities in your teeth? If you do, why not start drinking coffee. There are many antioxidants and even antibacterial properties in coffee that will coat your teeth and help prevent cavities from forming.
While you will have to deal with the staining on your teeth that coffee can cause, that is much easier to deal with than a cavities destroying your tooth. It’s much less painful as well. So brush regularly and drink that coffee if you want your teeth to be healthy.
You already know that when you drink a cup of coffee you feel more awake and alert, but the benefits go much farther. You will get more energy from coffee and studies have shown that drinking coffee can even help you stave off depression and other mental disabilities. Can you imagine? You solve all your mental issues with a cup of joe?
That may be over simplifying things, and it can actually have negative effects on some mental health issues, but it is hard to deny the overall mental benefits you will receive simply by enjoying a cup of coffee.
So Why Does Coffee Help Your Health
One of the biggest questions scientists asked was why many patients saw improvements or reduced their risks of developing their diseases simply because they were drinking coffee. They found it was a combination of two factors:
It seems a combination of both the caffeine and the antioxidants found in coffee is key to its improvement in your health.
“The evidence is very strong that regular coffee consumption reduces the risk for Parkinson’s disease and that in the case of Parkinson’s disease, the benefits are directly related to caffeine,” said Tomas DePaulis, PhD, research scientist, Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Coffee Studies.
Those aren’t the only two ingredients in coffee that provide the health benefits. Many researchers, for example, believe that the compound known as trigonelline, the ingredient that gives coffee its bitter taste, could be responsible for giving coffee its anti-bacterial properties that result in fewer cavities.
Just because coffee seems to be a good, healthy choice overall, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come without risks. Remember, there is caffeine in coffee, and depending on your specific health situation, drinking coffee with caffeine could pose health risks.
Caffeine can cause the following potential side effects:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach irritation
- Chest Pain
If you happen to suffer from a variety of heart conditions for example, you may want to rethink drinking coffee simply because of the caffeine content. Pregnant women also have to be careful when drinking coffee, as caffeine has been linked to low birth weights in babies.
Of course, you could always switch to decaffeinated coffee if you just can’t give it up. My point is that there are risks and even if you are perfectly healthy, if you drink too much, you could have problems down the road.
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A Word on Pesticides
Coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. It seems even those pesky critters love coffee. Who can blame them? However, you could always choose organic coffee. If you don’t, you should know that the preparation of the coffee bean and then the roasting process removes a majority of the pesticides used on coffee, but if you are still concerned, go organic.
As much as we love coffee here at Roasty Coffee, we aren’t going to tell you to start downing it by the bucket load because it is the healthy way to go. As with anything, too much of a good thing can be just as harmful as something we already know is bad for you.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a few cups of coffee every day. While we know that coffee can be risky for people with certain conditions, such as heart patients and pregnant women, for most of us there is virtually no risk to enjoying coffee on a daily basis.
So no matter what those health nuts say, keep on enjoying your coffee. Still, if you want to give up caffeine, more power to you. We will support you. You could always try decaffeinated coffee as an alternative. Still, don’t just do it because you think it will harm you. In reality, there are many health benefits to be found by drinking coffee. So pour yourself a cup today and drink it guilt free. In the end, you could be doing something good for your health.
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- Tomas DePaulis, PhD, research scientist, Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Coffee Studies; research assistant professor of psychiatry, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville.
- JAMA 2000;283:2674-2679
- American Journal of Epidemiology February 15, 2001; 153: 353-362
- Annals of Internal Medicine, January 2004; vol 140; pp 1-8.