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2007-05-11 13:24:48
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The Pros and Cons of Coffee

Medical benefits and disadvantages of coffee consumption
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Why do I get the jitters after having an espresso based drink?


Everyone assimilates caffeine into their bodies in different ways. Caffeine is a natural stimulant and blood thinner. Once you drink a caffeinated beverage, your body begins to process it just as it does with anything else you swallow. Caffeine enters your bloodstream, thins your blood, and begins to have its effect on your nervous system. When your blood is thinned, anything in your blood is able to travel faster through your veins and arteries. Because it is also a nerve stimulant your heart begins to pump faster and your nerves become more aware. You’ll be able to think quicker and react faster. This is why caffeine is not good for late afternoons and early evenings as it may well keep you awake all or part of the night. 


It is my opinion that if you have a choice between coffee (or tea) and a soft drink that you would be better off drinking the coffee (or tea). Soda is rather poisonous to your body.

Espresso, as stated above, has less caffeine than any other caffeine-based beverage out there. The reaction to it may be due to the individual’s sensitivity to caffeine. I am highly sensitive to caffeine myself and would often get an energy boost after drinking a latte. But, at the same time soft drinks like Coca-Cola have very little effect on me. Here is the reason why:

Soft drinks have as their main ingredient sugar. Sugar is mixed with water, flavouring, artificial colours, caffeine from cacao beans (from which Coca-Cola derives its name), and carbonation. Each of these ingredients acts as a buffer in your stomach to the caffeine drug. Soft drinks have much more caffeine in them than coffee, but unless you’re ultra-sensitive to caffeine, you might not notice the effects. You may get a sudden hyper-active boost from drinking a soda but it doesn’t last long. The reason for this is because of the sugar content. The sugar in soda temporarily raises your blood-sugar level and you gain some energy. After the energy is spent your blood-sugar begins to drop. A vicious cycle is then set up and you begin to crave sugar again to make up for what you’ve lost. Thirst begins as it does when blood-sugar begins to fall out and you grab another soda. The results can be destructive. Weight gain and lowered resistance to diseases often occur when you drink too much soda. Sugar is only part of what makes soda so addictive. The other ingredients and the caffeine further the addiction. Sugar and caffeine are physically addictive. Once hooked on them you’re trapped unless you make a conscious decision to stop drinking them. It is best to wean yourself off of soft drinks or else you may suffer painful withdrawals in the form of migraine headaches, tremours, and irritability to name a few.


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Coffee on the other hand contains only one natural ingredient: the coffee bean. Coffee beans are harvested by hand from the plant. The red, fleshy fruit (also called “cherries”) is removed from the two beans that sit inside. The beans are allowed to dry and then are roasted to light, medium, or dark roasts. The roasting process removes some of the caffeine. The darker the roast, the more caffeine is removed. The only ingredient used to make coffee into a fluid is water. That’s it: coffee and water, nothing artificial. The added ingredients of sugar, cream, or other flavourings are entirely up to the consumer. With coffee, you get to control what you add to it and how much you want. With soda and other soft drinks you don’t get that control. 

However, even without anything added, coffee can still be highly addictive because caffeine is a drug. Caffeine sensitivity is based on the consumer’s anatomy. If you’re like me you assimilate caffeine from coffee very rapidly and the effects last a long time. The assimilation can be slowed a little by drinking coffee over ice or adding a lot of cream. Cream is why espresso-based drinks are better than brewed coffee. The cream buffers your stomach against the caffeine and natural oils and acids contained in coffee. Cream and ice are especially good if caffeine or naturally occurring acids in coffee tend to make you nauseous. Some people who are hard-core coffee drinkers can consume many cups of coffee per day and barely shudder. The reason for this is that their bodies have grown used to the caffeine and thus they must take in more for it to take effect. It’s much like heroin: it begins with a small dose but gradually gets increased because the drug acts upon the body less and less if the dosage is kept the same. To get the effect of that first dose, the amount must be increased.

I keep harping on the subject of caffeine as a drug and being addictive because it is just that, a drug. Caffeine doesn’t do the same physical and mental harm as illegal drugs do, but it is something that can be abused just like anything else. Gluttony, the over-consumption of food, is an abuse of food. Food, like caffeine, is something that occurs naturally. But, as with anything, you can overdo it so it’s best to keep yourself under control.

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I love coffee, but I’m always running to the toilet!


Keep in mind that no matter what caffeinated drink you prefer, it is imperative that you take in plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. The human body, despite is solidity, is 70% water and 30% solid mass. Caffeine is also a diuretic. This means that it will make you urinate often. Because of the constant urge to urinate after drinking a caffeinated beverage, your body’s water supply begins to be depleted. You may begin to feel tired, cranky, slow, and lack energy. Often, this is what makes people keep reaching for and drinking them. The body desires the energy and “feel good” moods that caffeine supplies. Water is essential to maintaining your body’s natural functions. Every single organ, blood vessel, and bone in your body has water as its base. Without water, you begin to dry up and you open yourself up to a lot of trouble and heartache. You get sick easier; you become constipated; things don’t function correctly. You would never take a bath or shower in soda or coffee, so why would you wash the inside of your body with soda or coffee? It is very, very important to keep water flowing in. Some would complain that water makes them urinate a lot. The truth is, if you urinate a lot from drinking water it’s because your body is flushing out the impurities that have built up from not consuming the proper amount of water. When you drink water and your body becomes properly hydrated, the urges to urinate will decrease and become normal again. Water also flushes out concentrations of fat that have gathered in various parts of your body. Your blood takes these impurities away and they soon pass out of your body from bowel movements. All of these reasons are why water is so extremely important. Many of today’s diseases could be avoided simply by consuming enough water. It can be overdone though. If you start getting headaches from drinking water, you may be drinking too much. The headaches are the result of minerals and other essential nutrients being rinsed out of your body. Eating a proper and balanced diet and cutting back a little on the water intake should take care of the headaches.


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From Elftown's Medical Advisor, [The Red Baron].

I am especially grateful to this kind gentleman for his help in checking the medical facts of this wiki. Thank you!

I have read your coffee facts, and in fact, they're correct, I would like to share some more information with you:


The following information is according to Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews: Pharmacology 2nd edition.



Caffeine is a chemical compound of the methylxanthine family, it is found in coffee, tea, cola drinks, cocoa, and chocolate. It is, primarily, a central nervous system stimulant.


Caffeine has effects on the nervous system, kidneys, heart, and stomach.


On the nervous system, 100-200mg of caffeine (one to two cups approximately), decrease fatigue and increase mental awareness by stimulating several brain areas. 1.5g of caffeine, (12-15 cups of coffee) cause anxiety and tremors, and very high doses of caffeine (≥2g; 10g is considered a lethal dose, about 100 cups of coffee) stimulate the spinal cord.


On the heart, it increases heart rate and contraction; and thus too much caffeine can be harmful for cardiac patients.


Diuretic action, it increases urine output and thus the loss of water and the three ions, sodium, chloride, and potassium, which, if lost and not replaced, will result in detrimental, even fatal, effects on health.


On the stomach, caffeine increases the production of the stomach's natural acid, hydrochloric acid, and therefore is not recommended for patients with peptic ulcer.


On the therapeutic side, Caffeine potentiates the effect of the pain killer paracetamol; this combination works well for some migraine patients. It also relaxes the muscles of the airways, and was previously the main line of treatment for asthma. Other agents have taken its place recently.

Caffeine and other methylxanthines can cross the placenta and are secreted in lactating mothers' milk, but there is no evidence that it's harmful to the fetus.


Moderate intake of caffeine results in insomnia, agitation, and anxiety. Caffeine overdosage is unlikely, as it requires a high dose, but toxicity is manifested by convulsions and vomiting. The lethal dose is about 10g; which results in cardiac rhythm disorders; however, death by caffeine overdose is extremely unlikely.


Caffeine withdrawal symptoms include lethargy, irritability, and headache. This occurs when a drinker who consumes ≥600mg per day stops suddenly.



I enjoyed this, so keep me in the light concerning this matter.


Tell me, do you like Star Wars?

"Answer: Yes, I do!" ;^)



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There are also benefits to drinking coffee! Check out this great article by the lovely [irulan].


http://www.elftown.com/herald/th6/index2.html

Click on the "Healthy Living" button and go to Health Benefits of Java.

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