The truth about drinking coffee

Is it good for you, is it bad for you? There are so many theories out there, but here's what we know.
Nutrition
Coffee has a number of surprising links to your health.

Ahh coffee… Where would we be without it? For many, coffee is the sustenance we need to kickstart our day, the elixir of life, the greatest achievement man ever made!

If you’re practically addicted to your morning cup, you’ll probably agree whole-heartedly with that dramatic statement.

Aside from being a delicious and necessary part of our day, there has long been questions about whether or not coffee is actually helping or harming us.

Caffeine is an incredible stimulant and will certainly keep your brain active and your bowels moving, but what about the other effects?

Let’s take a look and the good, the bad and the ugly.

How it can help

Researches have found that coffee is hugely beneficial to our health thanks to all the antioxidants and vitamins it’s loaded with. It helps stimulate our brain by keeping it active and has been proven to help ward of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Some studies have found that people who drink coffee are 60 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s, which is the leading cause of dementia around the world.

Caffeine is also linked to lowering our risk of Parkinson’s disease, with a number of studies finding those who drink coffee are 32-60 per cent less likely to develop the disease. Further proving this theory, the researchers ran the same tests on patients who drink decaf coffee and found they did not have a lowered risk factor. Basically, the caffeine is the key ingredient when it comes to warding off diseases like this.

A nice strong cuppa can also help protect your liver from cirrhosis, which can be a big issue for many over 60s. As our liver health can fade with age, it’s important to try to keep it as healthy as possible to avoid blood clots and keep your metabolic system functioning well.

How it hurts

While coffee may taste great and have plenty of health benefits, there are some downsides too.

Mainly, it is highly addictive. A lot of us will find we end up with afternoon headaches if we haven’t had our morning jolt and this kind of dependence is never healthy.

While everyone is different and can handle various amounts, the recommended maximum amount of caffeine to drink everyday is 400mg, or around four cups.

However, coffee affects everyone differently. You may find you can drink more without any worries, or you might get the jitters after just one sip.

Caffeine can also alter your mood and cause anxiety. Just one cup can cause some people to feel more anxious and nervous and keep you up at night.

If you find yourself feeling anxious quite often and without cause, try cutting out your daily cup of coffee for a few days and see if you notice a change.

Most doctors recommend you cut yourself off after 4pm anyway and switch to tea instead. Although tea also contains caffeine, the dose is much lower than in coffee.

The verdict

Coffee has plenty of health benefits, but be conscious of how you’re drinking it. Loading it with sugar will do you more harm than good so go au natural if you can hack it. It can help you ward of plenty of diseases, but if you’re generally a nervous or anxious person you might want to stick to something a bit more soothing and calming instead.

Do you love your coffee? How do you take it? Do you drink it for health reasons or just because it tastes great?

  1. Kevin  

    There is a reason why I saw a book in a bookstore on the benefits of Coffee, flanked by a book on the dangers of coffee. It adjusts blood pressure and if you are male, finding it hard to avoid many visits to the toilet day and night, stop coffee and all caffeine right now. I used to drink a tea for breakfast and travel to the city. Took about an hour to get there. On arrival I was red-faced and bursting to visit the little room. Then I went off all caffeine and drank Apple Juice before departure. A Doctor told me about apple juice as a child. The results are sensational. My record for no visits to the toilet during the day is 12 hours. I even found once when travelling that an urge to go was eased by another small drink of Apple Juice. This is brilliant, but sadly does not have the same result at night. I’m experimenting with improving that, keeping detailed records. Even so my night-time results are way better than ten years ago when I had tea before sleep.

  2. My Mother has drank 3 cups of coffee daily for most of her life but not so much recently as she is currently dying from Dimentia, caffeine has not helped her.
    Kevin! hopfully your not doing harm to your blabber by suppressing urges.

  3. Hans de Rycke, App. Kin. Clin. Kin.  

    K. I’d be worried about my state of mental health if I made spelling mistakes like ‘Dimentia’, ‘blabber” instead of ‘bladder’, ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’.

    • Mary  

      aaaggghh. we all make typos

      • Ria Young  

        I make lots of typos, due to arthritic knuckles and keyboards too small on tablets and phones. Typewriter keyboard OK, can touch type, but need to type with one finger on the small keyboards. I bet there are lots of folk with the same problem.

  4. The best tip is: If you still plan to continue drinking coffee, try to make it healthier.

    • Jean Walker  

      Everything in moderation, as per usual. And, Hans, as a proof reader, I can’t help also noting the ‘of’ instead of ‘off’ in the article!

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