Is coffee good for you?

A study found that Jordan consumed roughly 36 kilotons of coffee in 2018, making it the 45th largest consumer of coffee. (Photos: Freepik)
Coffee is a drink deeply intertwined with Arabic culture and its use in the Middle East dates as far back as the 15th century. It is believed that Arabs would chew on coffee berries to provide them with energy as they made the long and arduous pilgrimage to Mecca. Today, coffee still plays an important role in Arab tradition and coffee serving is an integral part of social gatherings, weddings and funerals. اضافة اعلان

Aside from its cultural use, coffee has is a natural and easy way to give yourself an energy boost. Although coffee has many benefits, there are also some negative implications to regular coffee consumption.

Coffee in Jordan

One study found that Jordan consumed roughly 36 kilotons in 2018, ranking 45th largest consumer of coffee. The sheer number of coffee shops alone speaks volumes. Whether from coffee stands on the side of the road or coffee shops packed around areas like universities, Jordan is not short of coffee-dispensing outlets. 

Coffee here also comes in many popular forms: Nescafé 3in1 for those who prefer taste over energy, American coffee for those who want a quick cup, and Turkish coffee for those looking for a kick. No matter the type, what gives its drinkers a kick is caffeine.

Coffee berries each have two coffee beans which are harvested, roasted, and often grounded. To make a cup, typically hot water is added. In doing so, most of the chemical compounds of the bean are extracted into the cup. Along with extracting color, flavors and fragrance, hot water also extracts caffeine. Each Nescafé 3in1 packet has on average 50mg of caffeine. A 355ml cup of American coffee has approximately 154mg of caffeine, whereas a 60ml cup of Turkish coffee has 50mg of caffeine.

How does caffeine work?

Caffeine is a chemical with a wide variety of effects on the body. When it comes to energy, caffeine works as a stimulant. What this means is that it excites functions associated with the central nervous system, such as heart rate and blood pressure. More interesting is the effect caffeine has on the brain. The brain has a chemical known as adenosine which accumulates slowly throughout the day. 

Once adenosine binds to adenosine receptors in the brain, it causes feelings of relaxation and tiredness. Caffeine simply binds to the receptor, instead of adenosine, but does not produce an effect. In essence, coffee does not give energy per se, but instead works largely by reducing the feeling of tiredness.
That being said, caffeine may also increase the levels of adrenaline in the blood, as well as increase the activity of other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and noradrenaline. More research still needs to be done to fully understand how caffeine works and all its effects on the body. 

Health benefits of coffee

Caffeine alone has many uses in medicine. It is commonly used in combination with paracetamol to help treat headaches. Aside from caffeine, the coffee itself may help prevent certain diseases. Although more studies need to be conducted on how it works, certain aspects look promising.

• Liver diseases
The liver is a vital organ largely responsible for filtering and breaking down toxins in the body. Unfortunately, there are many diseases that can affect the liver, with the potential of being fatal. When it comes to hepatocellular carcinomas (liver cancer), coffee may lower the risk by 40 percent, according to a study, which even suggests that three cups of coffee per day may reduce the risk by up to 50 percent. Many studies have corroborated these findings, with some having even seen reduced risk of other liver diseases, such as nonalcoholic fatty liver, gallstones and cirrhosis.

• Parkinson’s disease
Many studies found that coffee may even reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease that leads to shaking, stiffness and difficulty with walking, balance and coordination. One study in particular found that men who drink over four cups of coffee are five times less likely to develop Parkinson’s compared to those who do not. Furthermore, the caffeine found in coffee may help control movement in those who already have Parkinson’s. The exact reason for this is not yet well understood and there is not enough evidence to determine if decaffeinated coffee has the same effect.

• Type 2 Diabetes
An interesting study done on coffee found that those who increased their coffee consumption by at least one cup per day over four years were 11 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not. More interestingly, a separate study found that those who consume four to six cups of either caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee have a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of diseases that refers to obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. 

Side effects of coffee

As with anything in life, coffee must be consumed in moderation. Drinking too much can have a negative impact on your overall health and may increase your risk of developing certain diseases or conditions. The most prominent example of this is on cardiovascular health. In moderate amounts, coffee has shown to reduce the risk of heart failure by 11 percent. On the other hand, those who already have high blood pressure should avoid or limit caffeine intake as it can increase blood pressure further. Similarly, some studies have found that those who drink coffee have higher levels of blood lipids (fats) and cholesterol compared to those who do not drink coffee.

In women, the risks associated with coffee can be worse. Some studies have found that women who drink coffee are at higher risk of developing bone fractures, whereas men have a slightly lesser risk. Women who drink coffee may also be at higher risk of developing endometriosis, a disease where the lining of the uterus grows in other places such as the Fallopian tubes and ovaries. Pregnant women should avoid coffee as some studies have found that high coffee consumption is associated with pregnancy loss, low birth weight and preterm birth.

The caffeine found in coffee may have other negative implications for health. Similar to nicotine, caffeine is an addictive chemical and withdrawal may impact one negatively. Common signs of caffeine withdrawal include headaches, irritability and the inability to concentrate. 

For those with anxiety, high intake of caffeine may worsen or induce symptoms of anxiety, especially in those with panic disorders or social anxiety disorders. A study found that adolescents with high coffee consumption also experience permanent changes in the brain. Although more research needs to be conducted, researchers believe these changes may result in an increased risk of anxiety-related conditions in adulthood. 

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