Drinking Coffee: Merits And Demerits

Drinking Coffee: Merits And Demerits

It goes without saying that coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. Coffee drinkers can’t imagine a morning without a caffeine shot. According to a recent study, there are around 1 billion coffee drinkers in the world. And over 2.2 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day globally. Since our current world population is pegged at 7.98 billion, what it means is that 12.6 per cent of the global population is made up of coffee drinkers.

An interesting fact about coffee is that more than 90 per cent of it is produced by developing countries, primarily in South America, while it is consumed mostly in the developed world. For instance, the United States is the largest market for coffee with approximately 125 million people who drink it during breakfast. Of these, 90 per cent are senior citizens and 70 per cent fall within the age group of 18-24.

The honour for the highest coffee consumption per person, four cups a day, goes to Finland.

The coffee that we consume is made from roasted coffee beans. So while there are more than 120 varieties of coffee plants, each of which produces different kind of beans, the most common ones are Robusta and Arabica.

The beverage is quite versatile and can be served either hot or cold. It can also be had with a dash of milk or cream or even black. In fact, more than 650 million people globally like it black. Instant coffee is also quite popular among drinkers, mostly because it is cheap. Then of course, you have the various forms like, Latte, Americano, Espresso, Cappuccino, Mocha, Macchiato etc.

The truth about caffeine

Coffee derives its kick from caffeine. It is a drug which stimulates the brain and the nervous system. It also increases the circulation of cortisol and adrenaline in the body. Thus, in small doses it can actually prove to be refreshing. While caffeine is also found in many drinks like tea, soft drinks, various analgesics, diet pills, tea, chocolate, cocoa and energy drinks, coffee is its biggest dietary source.

Caffeine is clearly the most extensively used stimulant in the world. When taken in excess it can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, affect sleep patterns, heart disease, stomach and intestinal issues, and worsen bad moods.

What happens to you when you consume coffee?

The acid in coffee eats away the villi of the small intestine, and thereby this reduces the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. Most coffee drinkers are prone to more deficiencies than people who do not consume coffee. Withdrawals from coffee do result in headaches, constipation, and drowsiness.

History of Coffee

Before we go into the merits and demerits of drinking coffee, let’s have a look at its colourful history. Its story begins in Ethiopa in 800AD, when a goat herder named Kaldi, accidently stumbled across coffee beans and realised their potential.

The story goes that Kaldi discovered that when his goats ate berries from a particular tree, they became so energised that they refused to sleep at night. He is believed to have taken them to a monk, who put the berries in hot water to preserve them. But when he drank the concoction, he found it helped him to stay awake all night.

There is nothing really to substantiate this story about Kaldi and his goats, but this much is true that Ethiopian coffee beans made their way across the Red Sea to Yemen in the 15th century. In another 100 odd years, coffee was known in Persia, Egypt, Turkey and Syria. Obviously it was popular because of its ability to improve alertness and banish sleep.

Its popularity in the Arab world led to opening of coffee houses. In fact, the world’s first coffee house opened in Constantinople or Istanbul as we know it today, in 1475. By the 17th century, coffee had finally made its way to Europe.

Its European journey began in Italy, and in 1645, the first European coffee house opened in Venice. Drinking coffee and visiting coffee houses became the hip thing to do for the wealthy.

The Dutch East India Company and the British East India Company were responsible for bringing coffee to London. Coffee houses now became places where men gathered not just for the beverage but to discuss business and politics. By the 1670s, coffee reached France and led to the birth of the famous Parisian coffee houses. By the 17th century coffee had made its journey across the Atlantic Ocean into the New World. Rebellion against Great Britain led many to abandon tea and take to coffee.

The cold climate of Europe was unfortunately not conducive to growing coffee. But the tropical climate of Central America and the Latin American countries was perfect for coffee. Even today, Brazil is known as the biggest producer of coffee in the world.

Coffee and India

There’s an interesting story about how coffee started growing in India. It seems that a Muslim saint Baba Budan, while returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca, smuggled seven coffee beans and brought them home to Mysore. He planted them on the hills in the Chikamagaluru district. This was the start of the coffee industry in India.

Top health benefits of drinking coffee

Studies show that coffee is full of substances that may help protect against conditions in women, like Alzheimer’s and heart diseases. Moderate consumption, i.e., 3-4 cups of coffee daily is known to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, liver cancer and Parkinson’s. Moderate coffee consumption has also been linked to a longer life span.

Besides caffeine, coffee also contains antioxidants and other active substances that may reduce internal inflammation and protect against disease, according to experts. It is also known to help in losing weight, gives you energy and also helps in depression. The caffeine present in coffee also acts as a pain killer.

Demerits of drinking Coffee

A meta-analysis of thirty case studies suggest that coffee drinkers increase their likelihood of developing urinary tract and bladder cancers by twenty percent (International Journal of Epidemiology: Are coffee and tea consumption associated with urinary tract cancer risk? A systematic and meta-analysis).

  • Headaches
  • Gastric issues
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Jittery sensations
  • Heartburn
  • Seizures
  • A contributor in pancreatic cancer
  • Increased Heart attacks
  • Cause birth defects (when consumed during pregnancy)
  • Cause miscarriages
  • Raise cholesterol
  • Deficiency in minerals

Top health benefits of drinking coffee

  • Increases your life span
  • Improves mood
  • Helps body to process sugar better
  • Decreases risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s
  • Protects liver
  • Strengthens DNA
  • Risk of stroke comes down
  • Risk of colon cancer too comes down, especially in women
  • May help prevent Parkinson’s
  • Decreases the risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • Likely to lower risk of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

In conclusion, moderation seems to be the key word here as it helps you to bypass the negative effects like anxiety, restlessness, increased heart rate and insomnia. A low to moderate amount of coffee not more than a cup a day is okay to consume.

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