Coffee – the good, the bad and the downright ugly

Coffee has been both praised and mocked for centuries, blamed to cause impotence and madness, other times a cure for laziness or “gift from heaven”. Here’s the lowdown on why.

The good

Improved Cognition: Antioxidant properties of coffee keep your brain cells healthy and boost the performance of your neurotransmitters.

Anti-Diabetic: Caffeine decreases your insulin sensitivity and impairs glucose tolerance, therefore reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Improved performance: Caffeine increases adrenaline levels in your blood. Have a cup of black coffee about an hour before workout and your performance can improve by 11-12%.

Weight loss: Caffeine helps fat cells break down body fat and use it as fuel for training.

Lowers risk of death & disease: Coffee drinker’s overall risk of premature death is 25% lower than those who don’t drink coffee. Coffee may reduce the risk of cancers, stroke, Parkinson’s and Alzheimers and Dementia.

Lowers risk of suicide and depression: Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and boosts production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, which elevate your mood. Two cups of coffee a day prevents risk of suicide by 50%.

The bad

Caffeine makes up a mere 1% to 2% of the coffee bean: Other ingredients include chlorogenic acids, caffeol, polyphenols, phytoestrogens and diterpenes (I think that last one is actually a dinosaur but I can’t be sure).

Calcium loss: Drinking coffee causes the body to lose calcium, which over time, could put coffee drinkers at risk of osteoporosis.

Sleep Patterns: Sleep loss is a real problem for people who consume large amounts of coffee. The guideline to remember is that it typically takes about 6 hours for coffee to completely leave your system.

The downright ugly

Fun fact: Coffee can kill you. Yes, if you drink 80-100 cups (23 litres) of coffee in a short session, it can kill you. (Dah!) This dose is lethal and will amount to 10-13 grams of caffeine within your body. Before you reach this point, however, you’ll be barfing most of it out. Even drinking 23 litres of water can kill you. (note to self, don’t drink 23 litres of anything!)

Given the potential severity of symptoms, caffeine withdrawal syndrome is under consideration for classification as a type of mental disorder. (But hey, let’s do a risk assessment here – me without coffee – mentally unstable, me with coffee – still mentally unstable).

Addiction is often an issue with coffee drinkers. Ask any coffee drinker about how it feels to withdraw from coffee, and you may mistake their story for that of a drug addict’s…(refer previous risk assessment.)

To coffee or not to coffee? That is the question.

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