The Real Buzz on Caffeine

Holding a Cup of Starbucks Coffee in a Book ShopPhoto Courtesy: C4Chaos

Rooted in Euphoria

Legend has it that an Arabian shepherd named Kaldi discovered coffee. One day, he found his goats dancing joyously around a dark green leafed shrub with bright red cherries in the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Kaldi soon found out that it was the bright red cherries on the shrub that were causing the peculiar euphoria; he tried it on himself, and experienced a sense of well-being and euphoria. In order to stay awake during extended hours of prayer, monks at a local monastery then exploited the stimulating effect. Coffee soon found its way into all parts of the world.

I became a coffee addict when I was in the final year of medical school. This addiction continued even when I was a resident in a hospital. I started drinking coffee to keep awake. I was always short of sleep during my resident days. I was drinking more than 16 cups of coffee a day. I was constantly suffering from the craving. I had heartburn. I was constantly irritable and when I did not get my coffee in time, my hands started trembling. I knew that something was very wrong.

Finally, I decided that enough was enough. I took a sabbatical from my work for three weeks and signed up at an ashram, where you got only fruits and raw vegetables and I got myself detoxified. It was terrible for the first three days. But, I managed to quit that habit. I must confess, I do occasionally get tempted to drink coffee and I do indulge in one small cup whenever temptation overpowers me.

Did You Know?

  1. Coffee shops make up the FASTEST GROWING part of the restaurant business, checking in with a 7% annual growth rate!
  2. World coffee production in 2005-2006 was at 113 million bags!
  3. 14 billion espresso coffees are consumed each year in Italy, reaching over 200,000 coffee bars, and still growing!
  4. Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day, or equivalent to 146,000,000,000 (146 Billion) cups of coffee per year, making the United States the LEADING CONSUMER of coffee in the world.
  5. Japan ranks number 3 in the world for coffee consumption.
  6. Coffee represents 75% of all the caffeine consumed in the United States.
  7. Café Bars average sales of 230 cups a day.
  8. Coffee is grown commercially in over 45 countries throughout the world.

The coffee trade employs over 5 million people in Brazil. Most of those are involved with the cultivation and harvesting of more than 3 billion coffee plants.

It is not Easy to Understand the Ill Effects of Coffee

What complicates our understanding of the danger of coffee consumption is that we consume caffeine with hundreds of other things like tea and colas.

Heavy-coffee drinkers generally smoke more, drink more alcohol, and eat more fatty foods than non-coffee-drinkers.

Caffeine Benefits

A stimulant like caffeine can give us more alertness, elevate our heart rate and blood pressure and improve our performance in certain sports.

Moderate coffee consumption may be beneficial in gall bladder disease. Coffee drinkers are less prone to liver cancer and coffee may exhibit a protective effect on the liver in persons who drink alcohol excessively. Researchers attribute the beneficial effect of coffee on the liver to caffeine and antioxidants. It is also said to lower the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

Coffee is also said to improve brain function and alertness. It is believed that coffee drinkers had a less risk from Parkinson’s disease.

Coffee is also said to be effective in controlling a migraine headache.

Caffeine Risks

When taken at night, coffee can disturb sleep..

Sensitive subjects discover that even one cup of coffee can raise the blood pressure and if one has high blood pressure, caffeine carries a risk. It can increase the bad cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.

Excessive caffeine can even cause osteoporosis.

Pregnant women should consume less caffeine because it is associated with the risk of miscarriage. It also may cause birth defects in the newborn. Caffeine is also said to adversely affect fertility.

Coffee can raise the serum homocysteine levels and raise the risk of coronary artery disease. Men who drank five or more cups of coffee a day were two and a half times more likely to develop heart disease than men who drank no coffee.

Moderation is Key

Your caffeine can come from coffee, tea, chocolates or energy drinks. There are several health benefits in caffeine. The key to caffeine’s health benefits are in consuming it moderately. Even decaffeinated drinks are not totally safe, as they are known to adversely affect the lipid profile.

It is dangerous to get addicted to coffee. I have discovered that the hard way. If you must drink coffee, then drink it in moderation. Cheers!

More on coffee:

 

Dr. Rajesh VishwanathanDr. Rajesh Vishwanathan, MBBS, became disillusioned with the impersonal and aggressive allopathic system and trained and qualified in Yoga, meditation, Naturopathy and Homeopathy. He dreams of Integrating Allopathic medicine with the Alternative systems of healing.

Comments

  1. Marcia says

    Coffee puts the system under the strain of metabolizing a deadly acid-forming drug, depositing its insoluble cellulose, which cements the wall of the liver, causing this vital organ to swell to twice its proper size. In addition, coffee is heavily sprayed. (Ninety-two pesticides are applied to its leaves.) Diuretic properties of caffeine cause potassium and other minerals to be flushed from the body.

    All this fear went away when I quit, and it was a book that inspired me to do it called The Truth About Caffeine by Marina Kushner. There are five things I liked about this book:

    1) It details–thoroughly–the ways in which caffeine may damage your health.

    2) It reveals the damage that coffee does to the environment. Specifically, coffee was once grown in the shade, so that trees were left in place. Then sun coffee was introduced, allowing greater yields but contributing to the destruction of rain forests. I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere else.

    3) It explains how best to go off coffee. This is important. If you try cold turkey, as most people probably do, the withdrawal symptoms will likely drive you right back to coffee.

    4) Helped me find a great resource for the latest studies at CaffeineAwareness.org

    5) Also, if you drink decaf you won’t want to miss this special free report on the dangers of decaf available at http://www.soyfee.com

  2. Gina says

    Thanks Marcia for the insightful remark. I am going to check out your references as I see this as a topic that is far from settled in the health/food industry. Personally, I don’t drink much of it and when I do it’s the real stuff (not decaf).

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