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 is and why people drink it (for any of you who have been living under a rock). Coffee as we know it today is a beverage prepared from the roasting, grinding, and brewing of the seeds of the coffea plant. It is accepted by the scientific community that coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia early in the 15th century and the cultivation and consumption of coffee first occurred in the middle 15th century in Yemen.
And we’ve been bouncing off the walls ever since.
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 (in case you didn’t already know), 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 subsitute for a good-night’s sleep)
- increased endurance
- the ability to jump tall buildings in a single bound
Fun Fact: For all the reasons listed above, coffee enhances athletic performance, which is why it is on the International Olympic Committee’s list of banned substances.
But the benefits don’t end there.
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 diesease
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
Although extremely unlikely, it is possible to die from excess coffee consumption. To be clear, it’s not the coffee per se that would kill you, it would be a caffeine overdose.
To achieve this, you would have to consume a ridiculous amount of coffee in a relatively short period of time. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 to 100 cups of coffee within a 24 hour period would do it.
Of course, exact amounts vary per individual and depend on your particular sensitivities to caffeine and other factors. Risk is increased if you take certain prescription medications which block the enzymatic activity necessary for caffeine metabolism, such as fluvoxamine (an anti-depressant) or levofloxacin (an antibiotic).
In such cases, the liver can not adequately eliminate caffeine from the system, and thus, the caffeine levels in the body can increase rapidly, accelerating the potential for caffeine toxicity.
So there you have it, folks.
Coffee = good.
Too much coffee = not so good.
Way too much coffee = you might die.
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.