I learned to drink coffee in my twenties – during the 1970’s. Always before, I drank tea, mainly iced – with lots of sugar. But as part of my college life and to keep my new hubby company after college, I started having a cup or two of java. This time I stuck to black, no cream, sugar or flavors – and weak. The caffeine stimulant was just enough to get me up and going each day (and still is). Back in the 70’s and 80’s coffee was B A D. Multiple studies linked it higher cholesterol and heart disease. But, I kept drinking it anyway!
You’ve probably noticed how our world’s scientific and medical communities keep changing their minds on what is good or bad for us. For instance, in pioneer days, leeches were used to draw blood out. This was yucky and later ‘more scientific’ methods were used. Guess what? Leeches are back in style – used to help micro surgeons reattach parts of the body.
The same bad then good story goes for other things, such as low fat milk, eggs and ………. coffee.
As a coffee drinker, I find it hysterical and comforting at the same time, that the opinion keeps changing on whether drinking coffee is good or bad for you.
The (current) good.
- Type 2 diabetes chances may be lowered
- There are lots of antioxidants in coffee
- Coffee is linked to lower risk of heart rhythm disturbances
- Women coffee drinkers may have a lower risk of stroke
- Drink a lot of coffee and you may decrease your risk of Parkinson’s (because of the caffeine)
- Drink 3-5 cups a day and you are less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Above is according to Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health courtesy of WebMD.
Please note the less than certain words (may be, linked to – but not proven, may decrease, less likely). Many of the above ‘facts’ were gleaned from what are called meta studies, where researchers pour over prior studies done and reported and either accept or reject their conclusions based on the methods used (or not used) by the study.
As with those 1970’s studies, which neglected to consider the effects of other behaviors (such as smoking and inactivity) had on health, some of the newer studies, including meta studies also are uncertain whether there is a causal relationship between coffee drinking and their conclusion – just that it is associated with them.
The (current) bad.
- Blood pressure can be raised
- Blood levels of adrenaline can be raised
- Pregnant women drinking 3 or more cups a day may have a higher risk of miscarriage
- It makes you pee! (I can vouch for this one, it is a mild diuretic)
- The acids can cause more heartburn
- Unfiltered (boiled or French press or Turkish) coffee can slightly raise cholestoral
- All of the things that go along with coffee (sugar, cream, flavorings) can cause health issues
- People who already have diabetes may have special issues with coffee
- It keeps you awake – potentially causing sleep issues (again, I vouch for this one. Years ago I could drink a cup right up to bedtime without impact but now I never touch the caffeine after 6 PM unless I’m trying to stay awake).
The bad – through history.
CNN noted some of the issues that have been blamed on coffee through the ages. They included everything from leading to illegal sex (causing the closure of multiple ‘coffee houses’, impotence (but noting that it cured alcoholism) , blindness (in the 1800’s the war caused a shortage and other drinks were being promoted), stunted growth, bad grades in school (coffee drinking kids got bad grades – wonder what else they drank?), and urinary tract infections!
Are you a coffee drinker? Is it good or bad for you?
I love everything about coffee — the taste, the caffeine boost, the quiet ritual of making it every morning. I hate seeing so much conflicting health information, but I’m not planning to stop drinking it anytime soon.
Even if I know about the bad, it’s still my favourite drink! Anw, thanks for great article.