- Effects on the brain: In moderate doses (less than 300 mg per day), coffee improves attention span and fights drowsiness and headaches due to jet lags. A study shows that in individuals suffering from poor work performance due to shift duties, the effect of coffee and medication is equivalent. If consumed less than four cups a day, coffee consistently improves reasoning, memory, orientation, and attention. Studies have shown that coffee drinkers may have a slightly reduced risk of Parkinsonism or dementia in the future. Coffee may also offer a small amount of protection from stroke.
- Diabetes: Consumption of coffee within permissible limits provides protection against diabetes by making the body more sensitive to the effects of insulin. Women who had coffee before getting pregnant were found to be at a lower risk of diabetes during pregnancy.
- Hepatoprotective: Coffee has especially been shown to be beneficial to the liver. It reduces the risk of liver cancer and liver cirrhosis (fibrosis). It also slows liver damage in individuals with hepatitis C.
- Cancer prevention: Some studies have proven that coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of cancer of the breast, liver, mouth, and intestine.
In addition to these effects, coffee consumption improves body metabolism, helps in burning calories faster, and helps in keeping the body cells healthier because it contains antioxidants.
Should pregnant women stop consuming coffee?
American Dietetic Association (ADA) advises women to limit coffee consumption to less than 300 mg/day during pregnancy (one to two cups a day). Many gynecologists advise complete cessation of coffee intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If this is not possible, they advise limiting coffee intake to one cup/day.
Consumption of coffee in pregnant women may cause the following complications:
- A slightly increased risk of miscarriage
- Increased chances of premature delivery
- Low birth weight babies
- Increased blood pressure in susceptible women
There is insufficient evidence to support the belief that coffee causes developmental defects in the unborn.
What are the ill effects of excess coffee consumption?
Individuals who consume four or more cups of coffee daily are considered heavy coffee users. They may report symptoms such as feeling jittery, anxious, and palpitations and may have hand tremors.
Long-term heavy coffee usage causes the following health issues:
- Poor bone health: Excess coffee can cause vitamin D deficiency in the body and adversely affect calcium absorption in the bones. It can increase fracture risk in older people.
- Heart problems: Some individuals are more susceptible to this effect of coffee than others. They experience skipped beats or rapid heartbeats on drinking coffee. The sudden increase in blood pressure after drinking coffee may be harmful in those with a weak heart. Studies have reported that some people develop arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats) due to excess coffee consumption (more than 400 mg per day or four cups a day). Most of these have an underlying cardiac disease. There have been reports of sudden cardiac deaths after drinking more than 10 cups of coffee per day. If coffee is taken with cream and sugar, this may add to excess fats and calories in the diet causing abnormally high lipid levels.
- Drug reactions: Coffee can reduce the efficiency of calcium and iron tablets in the body by hindering their absorption from the stomach. Asthma medicines such as acebrophylline and doxofylline can react with coffee and cause nausea and palpitations. A medicine called stiripentol (for convulsions) can have serious side effects if taken with coffee, and these patients must completely avoid coffee intake. Caffeine intake along with bupropion (antidepressant medicine), ciprofloxacin (antibiotic), linezolid (antibiotic), and tizanidine (muscle relaxant) can increase nervousness, sleeplessness, heart-pounding, and anxiety.
- Coffee and children: Pediatricians specifically prohibit caffeine consumption in children. Coffee has been linked to hyperactive behavior, irritability, sleep disturbances, and acid reflux in children. If a child complains of fatigue, it is important to visit a specialist and find out the cause of exhaustion at this age rather than giving them coffee to perk up. The exact effects of coffee on a developing brain are still being studied. Coffee consumption may also worsen problems such as urinary incontinence, insomnia, acidity, and tremors in adults. To conclude, moderation is the key to coffee consumption.
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