coffee cup and coffee beans

Many of us rely on coffee to get us going in the morning and provide a boost through the day.

There have been a lot of studies on coffee, with differing views in some cases as to the pros and cons.

What Happens In Our Body When We Drink Coffee?
Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system. Caffeine gives us a feeling of increased alertness and a short-lived energy boost.

Scientific studies seem to indicate maximum alertness is gained from just two cups of coffee a day. The liver metabolises caffeine and excretes the contents via urination.

My personal selection of health related pros and cons related to coffee are:

Pros

  • Temporary increase in alertness and energy levels
  • Some studies suggest caffeine may help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, depression and some forms of cancer
  • Contains antioxidants and some essential nutrients
  • May help protect against cirrhosis of the liver
  • There is some evidence coffee provides a small boost to the metabolism, and therefore potentially burning fat

Cons

  • Increases blood pressure
  • Blood sugar irregularities
  • Adrenaline levels dropping of more than a couple of cups a day – fatigue, hunger – likely to crave sugar/carb foods.
  • Drinking too much can destroy important nutrients from being fully absorbed
  • A chemical in coffee named benzoic acid can have an adverse effect on the firmness of skin if too many caffeinated drinks are consumed
  • Tannins found in coffee (and tea) can adversely affect digestion of protein from the diet, especially if drank at mealtimes. Excessive intake may lead to anaemia.
  • Drinking  with meals can wash saliva away from the mouth (needed to provide important digestive enzymes)
  • Over time, more and more coffee is needed to provide the same effects. Excessive coffee drinking may ultimately lead to symptoms such as depression, weight gain, memory loss and exhuastion
  • Decaffeinated coffee still contain stimulants (although they are not as strong as regular coffee

As you can see, there are more cons than pros from coffee drinking (although drinking small amounts may well reduce the risk or severity of the negatives).

Is coffee dehydrating?
Generally, there appears to be mixed evidence on this. In summary, drinking one to four cups a day seems to produce a mild diuretic effect (increases urine output and the urge ‘to go’).

A good way to know if you might be dehydrated is to roughly monitor your output of urine and it’s colour. If you are regularly going to the toilet to urinate, in combination with a large volume of liquid, which appears to be a mid to dark yellow shade, then it is likely you are dehydrated and need to increase you intake of hydrating fluids.