Sunday, 25 November 2012

[] About Coffee and caffeine


The key chemical in coffee is caffeine. A regular cup of coffee can contain anywhere from 40 up to 150 milligrams of caffeine. Of course, varieties like espresso contain larger amounts of coffee than an equal amount of instant coffee. Research indicates that 2-3 large cups or 4-5 regular cups of coffee per day is safe, and in fact, even beneficial. Larger doses of caffeine, amounting to more than 600 mg, can cause insomnia, nervousness, irritability and anxiety. Also, different people react differently to caffeine and if you find yourself feeling uncomfortable after a cup, you need to avoid added intake.
How exactly does coffee benefit or harm us? We bring to you a list derived from various sources, including Harvard Heath Publications and Mayo Clinic articles detailing both the advantages and disadvantages of caffeine consumption. 
The good bean
  • Moderate caffeine consumption decreases the risk of Type-II Diabetes by increasing body response to insulin.
  • Decreased risks of certain cancers, specially rectal, colon and breast cancer, have been observed in people who consume moderate amount of coffee regularly coffee.
  • Caffeine is shown to improve metabolism and hence makes our body more efficient at processing glucose. A cup of coffee before an exercise session is believed to better performance. Coffee also helps improve stamina and keeps us going for longer.
  • Caffeine is an excellent wake-up chemical and helps do away with drowsiness.
  • Caffeine contains anti-oxidants that protect against cardiovascular disease and regulate blood pressure. People who consume coffee regularly also had lesser chances of heart attacks, according to the February 2008 Harvard Health Publication.
  • Coffee cuts down on the risk of Liver Cirhossis
  • Caffeine helps in the prevention of gall stones in men and has been linked to lowered incidence of Parkinson's Disease.
  • A chemical called Theophylline present in coffee is used in the medication of asthma.
  • Moderate amounts of coffee can help migraine attacks.
  • Coffee made from roasted coffee beans has antiadhesive and antibacterial properties that protect from dental cavities.
However, Coffee is not a medication or a preventive measure and should not be used in that respect. The key word in all these beneficial effects is "moderate". Hence, visiting the coffee machine every hour at work or drowing down cup after cup while trying to stay awake is harmful, to say the least. And here's why:
The other side of the bean
  • Coffee plants are among the most highly sprayed with pesticide crops. Even filtered coffee can carry some remnants of chemicals. 
  • Caffeine is addictive. For those of us who like to sip coffee at work to keep alert, especially those of us who work night shifts, coffee starts as a necessity and ends up as a habit. Caffeine causes cravings and not fulfilling those cravings can cause irritation and stress.
  • Caffeine is shown to increase blood pressure and is not advisable for people with hypertension
  • Too much of coffee can irritate stomach linings and cause digestive discomfort.
  • Caffeine can also hamper absorption of minerals and vitamins in the body.
  • In the long run, it disturbs sleep patterns and leaves one with anxiety and irritability.
  • Caffeine acts as a diuretic, which means it increases the frequency of urination and causes the body to expel more water.
Drinking coffee right
But who wants to live without coffee, right? Here are a few tips on how to make that coffee work for you while cutting down on its harmful aspects.
  • Drink decaf: Decaffeinated coffee contains far less caffeine (2-3 mg per cup) than caffeinated while retaining the aroma and taste of regular coffee.
  • Replace full-fat milk with skimmed milk. Also, cut down on the quantity of sugar. One ends up consuming a lot of sugar to drown away the bitter taste of coffee. Most people argue that the bitternes is what makes it so good. No sugar or less sugar is good, but if you want it to be sweet, opt for artificial sweeteners instead.
  • If you are buying yourselff coffee, choose brands that are labelled Organic. They are made from plants that do not have pesticides sprayed on them and are safer.
  • When not to drink coffee: Do not drink coffee or at least cut down on consumption if you are pregnant or if you suffer from High Blood Pressure, gastritis, ulcers or heart diseases. 
Also, do not drink coffee if you are on antibiotics. Consult a doctor to find out if it is safe for you to drink coffee while on the prescribed mediation.
The bottomline is, do not take coffee for granted. Moderate amounts of coffee is safe, of course, but too much of anything is bad. Watch your intake and there is no reason why you shouldn't enjoy the drink that all of humanity loves so much. 
Best Regards
Prakash Nair

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