As long as there is coffee being sipped all over the world and as long as people continue to struggle to get their health under control, there shall always be the idiomatic question: “To drink or not to drink?” Obviously, there are definite pros and cons to drinking coffee and caffeinated drinks in general, which include tea and cocoa beverages as well. And as with many other areas of healthy lifestyle, the key is in a proper balance.
In the not-so-distant past, coffee used to be an expensive drink for special events. If you read an older book (especially one originating in Europe or in the American South), you may well be presented with a mental picture of little children snorting down a cup of coffee in the morning. However, back in the day, the difference between black coffee (made from coffee beans) and rye or chicory coffee was the difference between once-in-a-blue-moon treat and everyday sustenance.
What could we learn from our coffee drinking ancestors? Is coffee addictive? Yes and no. Coffee, if consumed regularly and in high quantities, may create dependence. This dependence is psychological more than physical, and results from the fact that coffee positively stimulates the nervous system and upon withdrawal, heavy coffee drinkers may experience unpleasant effects, such as irritability, depression, fatigue or even headaches. But drinking coffee in limited quantities does not produce any actual addiction.
Is coffee unhealthy? Many people consider drinking coffee unhealthy, because its consumption is linked to sleep disruptions and dehydration. However, medical studies have shown that drinking coffee in moderation (up to 3 cups a day) is not linked to any modern age plague, such as cancer or heart disease. Drinking coffee in the am or early pm hours of the day typically has no impact on your natural sleep cycle either. And although coffee does make your bathroom trips more frequent, the amount of water you consume by drinking coffee usually offsets the amount of water lost in urination.
But, as usual there is a BUT to drinking coffee. One of them is that coffee, although not harmful, also has very few health benefits. Some studies have shown that coffee drinkers are slightly less likely to succumb to age-related dementia or Alzheimer’s. Coffee was also found to be somewhat beneficial for asthma sufferers. Still, balance once again is the key in navigating your way through Starbucks. And so, the pros and cons of coffee consumption are dependent on how you drink coffee.
Enjoy coffee as a special treat, daily if you please. Yet, remember it is the coffee you are enjoying, not the cream, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, additives and colorings that may be well behind the negative impacts coffee consumption might have on our weight and health. Learn to savor and appreciate coffee for its natural flavor. If you can’t take it, consider switching to a milder drink instead, but skip on all the extras that turn coffee into a whole other species.