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Coffee is the beverage that gives us a boost in the morning and provides a needed pick-me-up during the day. It is the world’s most popular beverage but is it actual doing us harm? Is it actually good for us? The media loves to pick on medical stories and sensationalize them. Depending on the day of the week, you may be told that coffee is good for your health, or that it is causing you all sorts of long term health problems. So which is it really, when the media flip-flops practically every week?
No-one disagrees that drinking too much coffee affects your well-being. You only have to drink a strong cup before going to bed to know that you are going to toss and turn all night before you finally fall asleep with your eyes open. However, a strong cup in the morning will give you energy and make you feel alive, ready to face the day.
Given that the evidence collected thus far goes both ways, moderation seems to be the key. A study by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2010 stated that consumption of several cups of coffee a day had no effect on pregnant women. Research by another American institution found that pregnant women who consumed two or more cups of coffee a day were twice as likely to suffer a miscarriage. The overall advice seems to be cut down or stop drinking coffee if you think you may be pregnant.
Other studies show that drinking coffee can reduce a person’s likelihood of developing Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, other research shows that if you are at risk of heart disease or strokes, you should avoid coffee at all costs as it can increase blood pressure.
When it comes to the area of cancer, again, there is no consensus among the medical fraternity. On the one hand, studies have shown that high consumption of coffee can reduce the risk of liver cancer whilst other studies have shown that it can be associated with increased risk of breast cancer.
What everyone can agree on is that coffee is a diuretic, making you need the bathroom more frequently while making you thirsty. If you urinate more, then you are losing valuable vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B6 from your body. However, the good news is that coffee is full of anti-oxidants, so you can at least replenish some of the minerals you lose by drinking another cup. Also, most medical studies agree that coffee is bad for people with gastric problems as the proteins in caffeine interfere with stomach acids, exacerbating symptoms.
In summary, on the plus side, coffee may reduce your risk of suffering dementia or some types of cancer. On the negative side, it may increase your risk of suffering a stroke or miscarriage.
So, what is the answer? Is coffee doing you harm or doing you good? It seems that the medical world cannot come up with a definitive answer and that more research needs to be done before they will come down on the side of, or drop the hammer on coffee and the effect of caffeine on the body. Until then, if you drink coffee in moderation, you are probably not doing your body any permanent damage. However, if you are drinking coffee till you percolate instead of sweat, you should probably consider cutting back.
At the end of the day, you can read as many medical studies as you like but ultimately you need to listen to what your body is trying to tell you about how much coffee is safe for you to drink. Your body would probably agree with the doctors and scientists too: Drink coffee in moderation.