Health Effects of Coffee and Caffeine

As with most things in life, coffee drunk in moderation is harmless whereas excessive consumption can have a damaging effect on your health. That being said, there is nothing serious enough to warrant health warning’s being printed on coffee packets anytime in the foreseeable future.

From a health point of view, it is the caffeine content in coffee that attracts the most interest and not the coffee itself. When all is said and done, it is the caffeine that gives the ‘pick me up’ feeling that most coffee drinker’s are looking for. Consequently, most people will take their caffeine ‘fix’ during the morning rather than after their evening meal of before going to bed, when it’s time to wind down. To most people, a cup of coffee in the morning is just what the doctor ordered, as it gives them that much needed lift to get through the rest of the day.

However, for a lot of us, including myself, coffee plays a much bigger role, especially during a hectic workday. For instance, people who have to continually think about what they are doing or saying, claim that their thought processes improve dramatically when they consume endless cups of coffee. This is especially true when they are working during hours when most others would expect to be sleeping. Long distance drivers have long known the benefits that taking a break and a good cup of coffee can have on there flagging attention.

However, there are always two sides to any argument, and those who consume coffee to excess can become over stimulated and can have problems sleeping. Other indications of excess consumption can include mild tremors and changes in mood. The heart rate can increase as can blood pressure. However, for somebody who is normally healthy, these effects are likely to be short term and not serious.

Caffeine itself is colorless and flavourless and is known to be a mildly addictive drug. As well as coffee, it is also found in many of the foods and drinks that we all consume. Tea, chocolate, cola and most so called energy drinks all have certain levels of caffeine. However, it’s effects should not be compared with the dependency and symptoms that come from taking illegal drugs. Addiction to caffeine also varies greatly from person to person.

Of course, there is a lot more to drinking coffee than just the stimulant effects of the caffeine content. For the connoisseur, the interesting and complex flavours that coffee offers are what makes it such an enjoyable beverage. For example, many people opt to drink decaffeinated coffee, which has had the caffeine content removed during processing. Since caffeine has no taste or smell on it’s own account, very few coffee drinkers are able to tell the difference between decaf and normal coffee. Decaffeinating also eliminates most of the health concerns associated with coffee.

Of course, there are those that, for whatever reason, choose to add way too much sugar, cream or syrups to their coffee which ultimately is not in the interests of their body, especially if they consume several cup a day. It is those same people that will then go on to blame the coffee for their excess weight and conveniently forgetting about all the ‘additional extras’ they have put into the cup.

Some medical research has suggested that drinking coffee could have positive effects on medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and colon cancer. Other research suggests that coffee maybe beneficial in reducing your chances of getting liver cirrhosis, gallstones, type 2 diabetes and asthma.

At the end of the day, the health benefits of coffee outweigh the risks provided that you don’t overdo it. Everything in moderation is the key.