Can coffee be a part of a healthy lifestyle? Whether you drink one or two (or twenty) cups of coffee a day, there are some things you definitely want to know…
First of all, let’s examine what coffee. Coffee as we know it today is a beverage prepared from the roasting, grinding, and brewing of the seeds of the Coffea arabica plant. The original domesticated coffee plant is said to have been from Harar, and the native population is thought to be derived from Ethiopia with other distinct varieties in nearby South Sudan and Kenya.
Legend has it that a 9th-century Ethiopian goatherder named Kaldi noticed an energizing effect when his flock nibbled on the bright red berries of a certain bush. So he chewed on the fruit himself. His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to a nearby monastery. A monk initially disapproved of their use and threw them into the fire, from which a wonderful aroma billowed, causing other monks to come and investigate. The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up, and dissolved in hot water, yielding the world’s first cup of coffee.
And we’ve been exhilarated ever since.
The word “coffee” entered the English language in 1582. It refers to the Arabic word for “wine.” Qahwah later became kahveh in Turkish, and then koffie in Dutch.
The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine…this is why people drink it.
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that functions primarily by antagonizing adenosine (a neurotransmitter inhibitor), thus leading to an increase in the production of acetylcholine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, glutamate, cortisol, and in higher doses, endorphins.
This is how Red Bull gives you wings.
Now that you know what coffee is and why people love it so much, let’s examine the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of coffee consumption.
Due to its caffeine content, coffee produces the following psycho-physiological benefits:
- increased alertness
- increased cognitive function
- improved reaction time
- improved coordination (in excess, it has the opposite effect…the jitters)
- decreased fatigue (but still no substitute for a good-night’s sleep)
- increased endurance
- the ability to jump tall buildings in a single bound
Fun Fact: Coffee is the world’s 2nd largest traded commodity. Coffee is consumed in great quantities, making it the most beloved beverage after water. It’s worth is over $100 billion worldwide.
Due to coffee’s antioxidant properties, it has some great health benefits, too.
- decreased risk of certain types of cancer
- decreased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
- decreased risk of heart disease
Makes me want to go get a cup right now!
It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Excess coffee consumption can result in:
- involuntary muscular tremors (jitters)
- gastorintestinal distress
- heart palpitations
Consuming a large amount of caffeine can have a harmful effect on the body. Most of these effects are short term and do not cause lasting harm. A life-threatening overdose is rare and most likely to result from taking dietary supplements or caffeine tablets rather than from drinking coffee.
Caffeine affects people differently, depending on their general health, age, weight, and height. A person who does not consume caffeine regularly may experience its effects in a more pronounced way than a person who frequently drinks coffee. People who are more sensitive to caffeine might have heart palpitations and should reduce their caffeine intake.
1-3 cups of coffee a day for most people is enough to experience the benefits of coffee as part of a healthy lifestyle. Whether or not you’ll get Red Bull wings is debatable.
So there you have it, folks.
Coffee = good
Too much coffee = not so good
Way too much coffee = bad
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