Coffea

Roughly one hundred and eighty million American citizens drink 1.3 cups of it a day. Brewed, it contains upwards of one hundred and fifty grams of caffeine. It is the second most consumed beverage worldwide, the first being water. The US imports $4 Billion of it yearly, and the average American spends $200 a year on it.

I just spent the last hour doing some light reading on the subject of coffee. And by light reading, I am referring to a 200+page article on the aforesaid subject by the ICO (International Coffee Organization).

It was long, and wordy, and at some point made the following statement: “Coffee has been stigmatized by the medical community for the last 30 years…On the contrary, moderate consumption between five and six cups of coffee a day can have important beneficial effects on health in various types of illness, quite apart from its anti-depressive, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects, among others.”

This statement made by Dr. Gabriel Silva Lujan reflects a common sentiment rolling through the medical community today. While once upon a time, coffee was one of the most damned of American vices, today it is becoming a necessary aspect of a healthy diet. This is a foreign concept for those of us that were told coffee would stunt our growth as children.

Of course, this theory was debunked a long time ago, and it is now believed that this myth was possibly started because there were concerns that caffeine was a risk factor for osteoporosis. According to the Department of Health Sciences Research, in Rochester Minnesota however, “…We therefore examined the influence of caffeine consumption on bone mineral at six skeletal sites in an age-stratified random sample of white women residing in Rochester, Minnesota…After age adjustment, there was no association between overall caffeine consumption and bone mineral at five of the six sites…Among elderly women, however, in whom calcium balance performance is impaired, high caffeine intake may predispose to cortical bone loss from the proximal femur.” 

What I believe we can deduce from this statement, is that while caffeine does appear have a significant effect on the bones of those of our elderly community, it [caffeine] does not seem to have any effect on those of us in our prime.

Now that we have come to the conclusion that coffee does not have the exact negative implications that we previously thought, let us discover what science has to say in defence of this popular drink.

Among thousands of other compounds, the coffee bean contains the chemical compound 1,3,7-Trimethylxanthine, and a fibrous carbohydrate called polysaccharide. Polysaccharides are a carbohydrate whose molecules consist of a number of sugar molecules bonded together. The polysaccharides in coffee are ‘indigestible fibers that are used by the digestive system to scour out the digestive plumbing’.

These indigestible fibers are used by a bacterium called Bacteroides, which generally reside in the colon where they serve to break down food and supply vitamins that the body cannot produce by itself. ‘“It’s not really surprising that Bacteroides really like coffee’s fibers, because they’re the most common bacteria involved in polysaccharide breakdown,” Bunzel told Science News Online.’ 

The other chemical I mentioned, 1,3,7-Trimethylxanthine, is known to those not so scientifically inclined as caffeine. ‘Caffeine is a Central Nervous System Stimulant and Methylxanthine. The physiologic effect of caffeine is by means of Central Nervous System Stimulation. The chemical classification of caffeine is Xanthines.’ 

And now I’ve gotten to the really interesting question: Does caffeine have a negative effect on the brain’s function, or is C8H10N4O2 the best friend of the over-driven human world-over? While caffeine is lethal when a dose of more than ten grams is consumed, (which is equivalent to approximately 5.5 gallons of brewed coffee), this does not mean that a dose of 1mg/1kg in your morning cup of jo is going to kill you. Instead, it appears that a cup or two of coffee a day-while I cannot promise it will keep the doctor away-will certainly boost your productivity, heighten your awareness, and promote the production of those ‘feel-good’ chemicals in your brain.

Despite all these good vibes for coffee here, I must attest to having experienced the theory of ‘coffee addiction’, and I am going to stress-as I have so many times before-that it is best to balance coffee with a healthy lifestyle. If you do not consume a healthy amount of greens, grains, and proteins along with your coffee, it would stand to reason that a habit of a cup of jo and a donut every morning will bring nothing but internal and external grief. Believe me, your gut will thank you for consuming coffee responsibly.

As always, I am interested in your opinion on this subject.

Adieu pour le moment!

~Marissa

 

 

 

 

 

  • Proceedings of the ISCH, Cartagena Columbia/Dr. Gabriel Silav Lujan. P. 9/10, Coffee + Health. New Research Findings. Edited by Ernesto Illy Diago Pizano. 2013, Sept. 15
  • The Claim: Drinking Coffee Can Stunt A Child’s Growth/Anahad O’Connor/The NY. Times. 2005, Oct. 18.
  • Is Caffeine Consumption A Risk Factor For Osteoporosis/J Bone Miner Res. 1992, April 7 (4):465-71. PubMed.gov
  • Polysaccharides/google.search
  • A Gut Feeling About Coffee/Mirko Bunzel/sciencenews.org. Janet Raloff. 2007, July 26
  • National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=2519, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/2519 (accessed June 19, 2017)
  • FYI: How much caffeine would it take to kill you?/popsci.com/Sam Eifling. 2012, Oct. 29
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