Coffee has unjustifiably received a lot of bad publicity over the last few years. It gets more often that you hear these people exclaiming proudly how they abstain from drinking it altogether and have switched it to tea, as it’s a “lot healthier”.
Let’s face it. Coffee is the most favorite and most consumed beverage throughout every culture in the world. Around 85% of North Americans consume caffeine in some form daily. The most typical intake is equal to two big cups of coffee (around 64 oz), which is the same as taking a big gulp of soda.
Two decades ago, the majority of people who were looking for a fat loss diet mistakenly thought that drinking coffee was very much like smoking cigarettes, namely, they were both dangerous to our health and pushing us to an early grave. The consequences they thought could arise to drinking coffee were high blood pressure, heart disease, dehydration, various ulcers and various other issues. These claims have luckily been disproven much to the joy of millions of people who enjoy their daily coffee and consider it an essential part of their daily routine and their overall health.
The coffee buzz
Even though a big number of people like drinking coffee because of its taste, there are also those who drink it to get a buzz. The buzz we experience is actually caffeine hijacking the receptors for a substance in the brain known as adenosine. Adenosine’s role is to accumulate itself during some kind of daily activity, attach itself to the brain cells’ receptors and make us feel drowsy as the day nears its end ensuring we fall asleep quickly and have a quality sleep.
While sleeping, adenosine levels decrease, which allows our body to wake up in an alert state and which makes us feel energized in the morning. That is how we are supposed to feel actually.
When caffeine starts blocking adenosine in the brain and throughout the body, the body starts re-energizing back again quickly. Blood vessels start constricting which raises blood pressure and sugar is released from carb deposits, which causes an increase in blood sugar levels. We start feeling energized and fully alert. That’s why caffeine is considered one of the most powerful stimulants, improving both your mood and mental energy.
Despite all of this, caffeine is considered a drug, and the research that has shown that caffeine improves physical reflexes and mental skills are largely thought to be a reflection of caffeine’s addictive properties instead of its ability to stimulate us. Previous studies into the effects of caffeine involved participants who were already habitual coffee drinkers and they were asked to abstain from drinking it for a couple days to a week, gave them a baseline test free of caffeine, then again were given caffeine and were tested again. It’s not surprising that the baseline measurements from the habitual drinkers who were experiencing withdrawal symptoms were poor. Once they got back to drinking it, they started getting remarkably improved scores.
Recent studies have started showing that if you haven’t already been a regular drinker, the performance during physical activity or during mental tasks might only get a slight improvement or none at all if you start drinking caffeine.
It’s widely known that stress is dangerous for your health. Stress increases hormones related to stress, blood pressure, and sugar levels, causes damage to blood vessels and raises the likelihood of getting a stroke or developing a heart disease. The same applies to an increased intake of caffeine.
So, a question arises: how much caffeine is too much? Numerous studies that were examining the effects on health the drinking caffeine has have concluded that drinking 3 cups of coffee per day is the upper limit above which issues can arise.
Staying below this limit is an entirely different story. Drinking just one cup will provide you with more antioxidants than eating a handful of blueberries. And what’s more interesting, it was concluded that coffee was the main source of antioxidants in the average diet of Americans. Taking that into consideration, nutritionists have started a series of studies trying to discover the health benefits that drinking a couple of cups a day can have.
Coffee and its relation to hydration
For years athletes were advised against drinking caffeine close to exercising since it was believed to dehydrate the body. Nowadays, it is known that dehydration level is influenced by the amount of caffeine ingested. One study has proven that the body’s response is largely dose-dependent and limiting caffeine intake to the upper limit of 3 cups a day, no significant dehydration occurs.
Quite the opposite actually, the liquid found in the caffeinated beverage can be counted inside the total daily consumption of fluids. Another study, however, showed that drinking more than 5 cups a day will most definitely dehydrate you if you do not take measures to replace the lost liquid.
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