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Coffee Drinking and Your Health

This is a guest post from Justin White. All views contained herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Western Washington Medical Group.

Coffee is now one of the most popular beverages in the U.S., and 80-90 percent of adults drink at least one cup a day. For some, it is merely a part of social interaction, while others drink it for the taste, and still others drink it to get an energy boost. Either way, there are many effects that coffee can have on personal health, though many of these are unknown to coffee drinkers.

Coffee’s Effects on the Brain

Caffeine creates feelings of pleasantness, relaxation, and positivity because it allows dopamine (a naturally occurring neurochemical) to flow more freely in the brain. It can relieve headaches and also make coffee drinkers feel more alert, clear headed, and energetic within half an hour of consuming it.

But, withdrawal from caffeine can cause symptoms including headaches, fatigue, irritability and moodiness. Consuming a cup of coffee a day is enough to cause symptoms when you withdraw and withdrawal can last up to ten days.

Effects on the Body

A 2005 study suggested that coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in America and can help protect cells from aging or damage. Antioxidants from coffee and tea specifically may help reduce the oxidation of fats, which in turn promotes heart and body health.

While the medical community disagrees, studies have suggested that coffee consumption can significantlydecrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, lower the risk of heart disease or dysfunction, and help prevent certain types of cancer. The medical community does not consider these studies conclusive proof; instead, they merely provide direction for future researchers to pursue.

Cautions

Caffeine consumption during pregnancy can have negative effects, since even moderate daily caffeine consumption (200 mg) is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage during pregnancy. This could be due to caffeine reducing placental blood flow and influencing cell development. Coffee itself can still be consumed in decaffeinated form with nearly all of the same health benefits though.

Drinking more than four cups of coffee a day over a long period of time can have adverse effects on the central nervous system, a condition known as caffeinism, producing symptoms such as headaches, lightheadedness, anxiety, agitation, tremulousness, perioral and extremity tingling, confusion, and possibly even seizures.

Moderation is Key

There are many possible health benefits to drinking coffee, but there are also areas requiring caution. If you choose to drink coffee, moderation is key, because excessive consumption is the main cause of nearly all the negative health effects cited. Be sure to visit our blog for more educational, health-related articles in the future!

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