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Coffee good for heart health...but bad for other conditions. Interesting facts about caffeine.

A CBC article states that "Coffee drinking [is] not harmful and may help against heart disease." I can definitely believe that as coffee has a number of good antioxidants which is good for the cardiovascular system and the body. Other research finds that drinking many cups of coffee per day may protect against liver cancer.

But does that mean that everyone should be consuming 6 - 8 cups per day? As a naturopathic doctor, I don't agree with that....Everything in moderation! We can get plenty of good antioxidants and polyphenols into our body by other means like eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies or drinking 100% fruit juices. Coffee may been good for heart health, but for other health conditions, it may be wise to reconsider your coffee habit. For instance, if you have diabetes, coffee or more specifically, the caffeine content will elevate your blood sugar levels and may keep them elevated for a number of hours after ingesting the drink. If you have osteoporosis or have a bone fracture, coffee drinking has been linked to decreased bone growth and density. As an ND, I tailor treatment programs for my patients depending on what conditions he/she has.

Caffeine tends to be the most controversial ingredient in coffee drinks. Below are interesting facts about caffeine. If you're in good health, don't worry & enjoy your cup of java!

Interesting Facts

  • Birth control pills slow the metabolism of caffeine. So someone may feel the effects of caffeine more intensely when on birth control.
  • Smokers tend to metabolize caffeine two times faster as people who don't smoke. So they are less likely to feel the negative effects of caffeine.

Caffeine's Effects
  • Increases urine output
  • Opens lung passages
  • Acts as a stimulant in the brain, giving us that feeling of wakefulness or, when we have had too much, the jitters.
  • Increases blood sugar and can keep them elevated for upto 6hrs later.
  • Too much caffeine can cause insomnia, restlessness, nervousness, gastrointestinal disturbances and heart palpitations
The general recommendation is that people limit caffeine to 400 milligrams a day - or 300 mg for a pregnant woman or a woman who is trying to get pregnant. A 250 mL cup of coffee has anywhere from 75 to 300 mg of caffeine. Limit coffee intake to one or two per day and it's better if you don't consume it after the noon hour. If you find that you NEED that boost of caffeine to continue your work day, then you aren't getting enough sleep or rest.

Note: The more caffeine one ingests, the more one needs to consume to get the same wakefulness. It's why some people start off with one coffee in the morning and eventually they're gulping down four or five per day.

Kicking the Habit

Kicking the addiction isn't pleasant. My patients have gone through the gamut of withdrawal symptoms from headaches to fatigue to anxiousness and being downright mean and negative to those around them. Some refuse to cut back or quit the addiction simply to avoid the withdrawal symptoms. I advise cutting back gradually. To help with this process, I ensure that patients are eating a healthy diet and partaking in physical activities.

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