Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Health Care and Java

How do you feel about coffee--that java that makes you jump, that black elixir of silky goodness, the cuppa joe for the morning wakeup call? Well, believe it or not, adding coffee to your daily diet can help with your health. If you already drink it, you’ll be glad to know that in addition to providing a boost to get you going, and the taste that may make you happy, coffee has some remarkable powers to help your body and brain.

According to this website, http://coffeeandhealth.org/ , a new study examined the relationships between coffee (total, caffeinated or decaffeinated) and tea consumption and risk of melanoma in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). EPIC is a multi-centre prospective study that enrolled over 500,000 participants aged 25-70 years from ten European countries in 1992-2000.

Consumption of caffeinated coffee was inversely (i.e. favorably) associated with melanoma risk among versus non-consumers, but not among women. There were no statistically significant associations between consumption of decaffeinated coffee or tea and the risk of melanoma among both men and women. The authors suggest further investigations are warranted to confirm their findings and clarify the possible role of caffeine and other coffee compounds in reducing the risk of melanoma.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, more than half of American adults drink coffee every day. Recent scientific studies suggest moderate consumption may help reduce some disease risks. These studies are observational, meaning that researchers draw conclusions based on differences between the number of disease cases in coffee drinkers versus non-drinkers. More information is located at this site: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/multimedia-article/benefits/ .

Not only is this information good news, but this article by blogger Jenn Miller shows that there are many health care pluses for coffee consumption:  https://www.jenreviews.com/coffee/ .

You may wonder when you see various reports over the past few years about the efficacy of drinking coffee and its health affects on you. The verdict is thumbs up, according to CNN, with study after study extolling the merits of three to five cups of black coffee a day in reducing risk for everything from melanoma to heart disease, multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, liver disease, prostate cancer, Alzheimer's, computer-related back pain and more.

To stay completely healthy with your coffee consumption, you'll want to avoid packing it with calorie laden creams, sugars and flavors, per the CNN article. And be aware that a cup of coffee in these studies is only 8 ounces; the standard "grande" cup at the coffee shop is double that at 16 ounces.  And how you brew it has health consequences. Unlike filter coffee makers, the French press, Turkish coffee or the boiled coffee popular in Scandinavian countries fail to catch a compound called cafestol in the oily part of coffee that can increase your bad cholesterol or LDL.

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Finally, people with sleep issues or uncontrolled diabetes should check with a doctor before adding caffeine to their diets, as should pregnant women, as there is some concern about caffeine's effect on fetal growth and miscarriage. And some of the latest research seems to say that our genes may be responsible for how we react to coffee, explaining why some of us need several cups to get a boost while others get the jitters on only one. For much more detailed information on this subject, visit this website: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/14/health/coffee-health/ .

Caffeine, the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world, is the best known ingredient of coffee, according to Warrior Coffee. Its beneficial effects on the human body have been researched quite well, but coffee as a whole is a complex beverage with a thousand different substances. Some studies argue that decaf and caffeinated coffee may have the same health effects and suggest that it’s not the caffeine that is responsible for most of coffee's health benefits. This company has put together a list of  Pro’s and Con’s about coffee drinking and is well worth reading to give you both sides of the story: https://www.warriorcoffee.com/news/2/12-health-benefits-and-6-disadvantages-of-coffee-smashing-it .

For those on the healthy side of coffee consumption, this website, https://www.healthambition.com/negative-effects-of-coffee/ , has some negative aspects listed about this liquid: In small, occasional cups there is possibly a case to be made for some benefits to coffee. If it’s fresh, high-quality and ideally organic (regular coffee is one of the most pesticide-intensive crops in the world) then a raft of studies have shown that it can improve alertness and long term it may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, gallstones, kidney stones and liver cirrhosis for heavy drinkers.

Conversely, in the longer term it has been associated with an increased risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Good-quality ground coffee is a source of antioxidants like chlorogenic acid that may help with weight loss and Green Coffee Bean Extract, particularly high in this antioxidant, are the latest popular supplement for body fat reduction. While there is evidence one way and another about drinking coffee, a case can be made for either side of the java wars.

Is coffee associated with the risk of death from all causes? According to a report in the New York Times, there have been two meta-analyses published within the last year or so. The first reviewed 20 studies, including almost a million people, and the second included 17 studies containing more than a million people. Both found that drinking coffee was associated with a significantly reduced chance of death. There’s possibly no other product that has this much positive epidemiologic evidence going for it. For more details on this product, read this article: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/upshot/more-consensus-on-coffees-benefits-than-you-might-think.html?_r=0 .

But, you need to be careful about how you drink your coffee. According to the Atlantic Monthly magazine a few years ago, there were no major differences in risk reduction between regular and decaf coffee suggests there's something in it, aside from its caffeine content, that could be contributing to these observed benefits. It also demonstrates that caffeine was in no way mitigating coffee's therapeutic effects.

Of course, what you choose to add to coffee can just as easily negate the benefits -- various sugar-sweetened beverages were all significantly associated with an increased risk of diabetes. A learned taste for cream and sugar (made all the more enticing when they're designed to smell like seasonal celebrations) is likely one of the reasons why we associate coffee more with decadence than prudence. More details are available at this site: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/11/the-case-for-drinking-as-much-coffee-as-you-like/265693/

So, should you drink that little black cup of java that so eagerly calls your name every day, or give it up for what may be considered healthier beverages like water, fruit juices, or other non-caffeinated types of liquid? That is a personal choice, and one that needs to be evaluated by you and your family doctor if you have mitigating health circumstances.


Until next time.  

9 comments:

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