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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Why is There so much Debate About Whether Coffee is Healthy?

The world is addicted to coffee. Consumption is going up every year, and it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. So, whether your morning starts with a premium, single-batch brew at home or a caramel macchiato at Starbucks, there’s a pretty good chance you are one of the millions who can’t get their day going without a fresh cup of Joe.

But what exactly is the effect of coffee on the body? Avid drinkers will say that caffeine and coffee are perfectly healthy when taken in moderation and that it can easily form part of a balanced lifestyle. Others, however, are left jittery or uneasy after consuming even a single cup, and they often consider coffee to be unhealthy, sometimes even going as far as to say it’s a drug.

However, countless studies released recently have found coffee to be harmless when consumed in moderation. And regular consumption may even help reduce the risk of some conditions such as Parkinson’s, depression and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Some of this research comes from Harvard Medical School, so it’s not like we’re talking about some blogger telling the world coffee is good for you in the face of strong evidence it is not.

So, then, why is there still so much debate? As with anything, misinformation is the main culprit. Some assumptions have been made, and people with bigger microphones are able to get their voice heard more than the little people, and this has led to coffee getting a bad name. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why the health benefits of coffee are still up for debate.

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    People like to add junk to coffee

    Could it be a coincidence that this fear about coffee being unhealthy started right around the time chains such as Starbucks began putting calorie counts on their menus? If you go and order an iced mocha latte with a caramel swirl, then yes, coffee isn’t healthy. In fact, it’s downright bad for you. Every once in a while, sure, but not all the time.

    But this isn’t coffee’s fault. It’s the cream and sugar your putting into it that’s bad. So with the majority of people taking their coffee with cream and sugar, and with so much information out there about how terrible sugar is for your body, it’s no wonder coffee has gotten a bad name.

    Drinking one or two cups of black coffee a day is fine, and as we mentioned earlier, it can even be good for you.

    Coffee isn’t for everyone

    As with anything, coffee will have a different effect on each person. Just like some people can drink two beers and feel okay whereas others will feel drunk, people tolerate the effects of coffee differently.

    One of the bigger complaints about coffee is that it keeps people awake. Insomnia can have a real negative impact on your health, and caffeine can contribute to this significantly. Coffee’s effect on alertness and energy is at its highest 30-60 minutes after consumption, but caffeine’s half-life in the body is about 3-5 hours. This is why the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends stopping caffeine consumption at least six hours before you go to sleep.

    But again, this is highly dependent on the person. Some can drink coffee after lunch and feel fine, whereas others will have a cup at 11 a.m. and have trouble getting to sleep.

    However, extrapolating these individual experiences to say that coffee is bad for you because it keeps you up at night is simply misstating the effects of this drink on your health. Yet there’s lots of information about there about the stimulation coffee provides, so we tend to focus in on this and assume it to be true no matter what.

    Most generic coffee is bad

    This is one not a lot of people think about. The nutrients and antioxidants provided by coffee have an expiration date. All coffee we drink is roasted, meaning it’s exposed to high temperatures to induce a chemical reaction that will eventually give coffee the smell and taste we are all used to.

    But what most people don’t know is that by roasting coffee we are essentially killing it. Not right away, but after it’s been roasted, coffee slowly starts to degrade. About two weeks after, it no longer possesses the nutritional and antioxidant benefits we’ve been discussing.

    Most of the coffee you buy from grocery stores was roasted more than two weeks before it reaches the shelf. So, when you drink it, you’re getting caffeine, but not much else. It’s still not inherently bad for you, but a lot of its benefits have been stripped away. Buying freshly-roasted coffee is a great way to combat this and to start taking advantage of the good things coffee can do to your health.

    Nothing escapes politics

    Coffee doesn’t seem to be political, but nothing can really ever free itself from the clutches of politics. The information we receive and the laws that are made are the product of people making an effort to influence the actions of lawmakers.

    A great example of this is what’s going on in California. Certain advocacy groups, for whatever reason, have decided to wage war on coffee, citing the remote possibility that the roasting process can cause cancer. However, the World Health Organization is in opposition to this, recently removing coffee from the list of possible carcinogens a few years back.

    So why is California doing this? Well, because it’s politically expedient to do so. For whatever reason, the right combination of people and legislators have brought their views into line, and this is creating the possibility for a change in policy that would require coffee to include a cancer warning label.

    But this is absurd. It flies in the face of countless studies, and the argument against coffee really doesn’t hold water. What’s going on in California is a classic example of politics making something a bigger deal than it actually is. If you take the time to research the issues on your own, you’ll quickly see how this is the case.

    Final Thoughts

    For the longest time, coffee was considered to be an indulgence. Because of this, we became attached to the idea that it was unhealthy. But this idea was not grounded in science. Instead, we made some false assumptions based on the way we consume coffee and what other people were saying. So now, when evidence comes out in support of coffee’s health benefits, our past understanding teaches us to be skeptical.

    Of course, it’s good to question things, but the evidence in support of coffee is mounting, and it’s time we welcome it with open arms, accepting this drink as a perfectly good way to start your day. But as with everything, only in moderation.

    Author: Tanya Masden

    Tanya is a freelance blogger and coffee enthusiast. When she first started working on her own, she became obsessed with issues of health and wellness, since staying healthy was essential to her financial survival. An avid coffee drinker, she thought the first thing she needed to do was cut out her morning brew, but after some research, she found out this wasn’t necessary. She writes frequently about health topics as well as her journey as an entrepreneur to help others find ways to make the most out of life

    That's all for today!
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