Keep Calm and Drink Your Coffee

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It warms your soul like nothing else. It's the best wake up companion. When your down in the dumps and tired, it is the ultimate pick me up.  I'm sure you're wondering what this magical thing I speak of is, since it sounds pretty darn awesome. Well friends, it is none other than your beloved cup of joe.  As someone who considers coffee to be one of their main food groups, I recently started wondering if all the coffee I was regularly consuming was actually good for me or doing more harm than good.  After wondering how coffee affected my health for awhile now, it seemed like a good time to put on my investigator cap and finally get some answers. 

Dr. Robert van Dam, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, recently looked at the relationship between coffee and one's health. His study stated that they "did not find any relationship between coffee consumption and increased risk of death from any cause, death from cancer, or death from cardiovascular disease. Even people who drank up to six cups of coffee per day were at no higher risk of death." Well, reading that was a music to my ears. When things get crazy during the semester, my coffee consumption increases exponentially and I'm sure many of you can relate. Hearing that it wasn't a big deal, was definitely a sigh of relief.    


Even though I discovered coffee won't kill me, I still wondered if it actually had any health benefits.  Luckily for me, the answer is yes.  According to the same study by Dr. van Dam and the Harvard School of Public Health, regular coffee consumption has been linked to protecting people from life threatening diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and liver cancer. While large amounts of caffeine that cause tremors, unwanted stress and trouble sleeping are obviously not beneficial, in all respects coffee, without all the milk and sugar added to it, is a healthy drink choice. 

So, after reading that coffee has actual health benefits and is relatively an okay drink to consume, why are reports constantly stating that coffee is still bad? Dr. van Dam and his team at Harvard looked at this as well and discussed how the early studies on coffee, also assumed that those drinking it in large quantities had poor lifestyle habits, such as smoking or less physical activity.  This made it hard to determine whether the coffee was bad or the lifestyle habits it was associating with were the culprits.

Despite new research coming out in favor of coffee, drinking it regularly still does carry some health risks. In an article by Donald Hensrud, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic, Hensrud discussed how drinking more than 2 cups a day can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, if you have a genetic mutation which can slow down the way your body processes caffeine. He also stated that regular coffee consumption has been linked to increased cholesterol levels. 

With all the back and forth studies on if it is or isn't healthy continue on, coffee has still managed to be a universal drink. According to a CBS news article written by Rome Neal, more than fifty percent of Americans drink coffee each day, totaling to more than 330 million cups consumed by the end of each day.  While the health benefits aren't lighting the world on fire and it still carries some health risks, there really seems to be no reason to stop enjoying your glorious cup of joe.  


1 Comment

your article certainly holds fantastic news for the majority of college students. I also am an avid coffee lover and wondered whether a lot of the tension I feel during the day was from my coffee consumption (usually around 3-5) cups a day. Soo unless that amount of consumption is in the "excessive" category, I'm going to assume its from something else, like my lack of physical activity or my general anxiety.

Something to watch out for about coffee, though: it can rob you of sleep and creativity. Participants in a study by the Mayo Clinic who consumed an eight-ounce cup of coffee with 200mg of caffeine (very strong, mind you) had trouble sleeping and less efficient sleep even though the coffee was consumed hours earlier. This lack of sleep left for brains that weren't fully recuperated, and many of the participants reported feeling tired and craving another cup of coffee the following morning.

Additionally, caffeine keeps your brain in a hyper-vigilant state while in your system, preventing your brain from taking the occasional daydream break that is actually helpful to finding creative solutions to problems.

There's a much better explanation in this article by the New Yorker if you're interested.

But overall, I'd have to agree with you...I love my coffee as long as I make sure to have it in moderation.

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