Candace's Favorite Things

Thursday, March 8, 2012

THURSDAY'S DISH'IN NUTRITION: "Coffee and Caffeine- Friend or Foe"?

 I’ve been asked this question to the tune of what feels like at LEAST a thousand times ten! While countless articles have been written addressing the issue thus far, I’ve decided to go ahead and answer those who’ve specifically asked for MY opinion, adding my two cents to the mix.

As a two time certified Nutrition Specialist with over 20 years of experience, one might be inclined to think I could and maybe should write this from the volumes of information I’ve already studied about caffeinated coffee consumption and its effects on the body…good or bad. While I could do so, that’s not how I go about this part of my job. We are all constantly learning and to do that in my opinion would be irresponsible at best.
 So, just to make sure the latest research hadn’t changed since the last time I’d checked, I begin my study of the matter. I do this every time I write an article where statistics , percentages and specific data are involved in reaching the bottom line and once again, I found myself starring down the same old sad sack situation when researching articles titled ‘Friend or Foe’ – ‘Good or Bad’ – “Should I or Shouldn’t I”,etc. The topic is rather irrelevant really, the issue lies in the battle lines that are drawn….dragging the matter  WAY beyond it’s necessary limits; making the question at hand appear like rocket science with the life of all mankind held in the balance.
I mean REALLY NOW folks, you should see the mounds of data I found ….we’re talking Caffeine here, not a possible cure for Cancer! I’m sure if we just looked around the corner we’d find something a little more worth while to pour this kind of Money, Time, and Attention into than whether or not catching a caffeine buzz is detrimental to one’s organic state of being. It can utterly baffle the mind. How we so often spend year upon countless year beating the same old ‘POOR dead horse’, when the truth is - the matter’s already - clearly been settled. Research may continue to shed a shred of light, adding some clarity to what we already know - when it comes to the bottom line on certain issues.

What’s say we leave the line right there and get on with going after some of the bigger, bader (no need to look it up, it’s not in the dictionary) bullies out there that have yet to be bound; as I mentioned earlier….. a cure for Cancer or maybe  a halt to the aids epidemic. Oh, I know - how about stopping the wild fire spread of type II diabetes among our children? These deserve more of our time, attention and yes, BOCU BUCKS! Yet we continue to study the ‘already solved’ with such great fervor that it never ceases to amaze me. After several hours of research, studying literally article after article on this topic, the honest truth is, that the conclusions are as uncomplicated as you would want to make them!

 So, what is the truth of this tremendous argument over the concept of whether or not partaking of caffeine is healthful or hurtful? Well most likely, one of the reasons it’s been beat to death is that caffeine ISN’T bad for you – unless you’ve been told by your doctor, or by your own BODY, that IT IS BAD FOR YOU – in that case, it IS!
There now, wasn’t that simple?

The answer to this age old question is often skewed by the writer’s opinions prior to their research. But then again, what articles aren’t somewhat biased. I mean really, as much as I’d like to try and think it’s just not so, it’s near to impossible to completely keep one’s opinions from filtering even ever so gently down into the brew that creates the final blend of which many who partake of it, will swallow (oh, how I desperately hope you’re grabbing these purposefully placed puns here).
 So, if we read with a wise eye, whether it fits our preconceived notions or not, with a desire to shoot straight, be fair, and leave our opinions at the door, the truth will always rise to the top. SO, let’s first state that we all know – CAFFEINE IS A MILD STIMULANT. Having stated the obvious, let’s look at the pros and cons of caffeine; specifically through COFFEE AND ESPRESSO CONSUMTION - according to the latest research studies:

1) Coffee Consumption Improves Mental Performance, attention, and wakefulness.
2) Caffeine improves Athletic performance.
3) A single cup of coffee shows to increase Information Processing in the brain.
4) Caffeine is rich in Antioxidants which help prevent damage to the cells of the body.
5)  Regular coffee drinking reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
6)  Regular Coffee drinking may reduce the build up of plaque in the brain.(Alzheimer’s).
7) Coffee drinking has shown to possibly lower the risk of type 2 Diabetes in women.
8) The Food and Drug Administration Placed Caffeine on it’s list as ‘generally recognized as Safe” in 1958.
9) Many other benefits are shown through studies sighted below including: reduced risk of kidney stones – opening air ways and improving asthma symptoms, etc.

1)      It Can Cause an increase in anxiety.
2)      It Can Cause Heart Burn.
3)      It Can Cause Sleep disturbances if consumed in large quantities and close to bed time or evening hours in general.
4)      It can increase Blood Pressure.
5)      If you don’t hydrate properly throughout the day, it can contribute to dehydration. However, THE EFFECTS CAN EASILY BE NEUTRALIZED BY DRINKING A GLASS OF WATER!
6)      It can cause symptoms of dependence when deciding to stop partaking. This is shown mainly of course in those who drank higher than moderate amounts.(Though listed as Safe by the FDA, Caffeine is still a stimulant type drug)
7)      It can contribute to Cardiac Arrhythmias.

 I think it’s quite clear here that the Cons, IN MOST cases to be fair - are related to the individual’s pre – existing medical and or mental conditions and to responsible yes!!!!!  It’s clear that the negative effects are real. They are also however, Based on good old Common Sense.
My Suggested Common Sense, No Studies Necessary Advice For the Consumption of Caffeine:

1)      If you tend to get nervous, or have had issues with anxiety…it’s best to STAND CLEAR.
2)      Caffeine is a diuretic. IF you are going to partake, REMEMBER THAT and drink some water as well!
3)      IF you have heart burn or gastro intestinal issues, if you DOCTOR SAYS you can give it a whirl and if it causes you grief…..BYE BYE!
4)      If your Blood Pressure is edging the suggested ‘Normal Limits’, (now shown to be 120/80 and used to be 140/90) or if it’s down right HIGH…stay away.
5)      If you have an Arrhythmia, don’t even think about it! If it causes you to feel as though you are having one…..drop the cup and RUN!

Folks, the bottom line is this; we can’t check our brains at the door of any “STUDY”.
I once heard someone make the statement - “Studies Show…, is the Mantra for those who Check Their Brains at The Door”! Don’t forget it!

The most important statement to remember when you are considering whether or not to partake, (for the Safe and Enjoyable Benefits that Many Receive from moderate Coffee Consumption) is this;
“Although “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA, caffeine is still a drug - a mild central nervous system stimulant that produces dependence when abused. Therefore, use it wisely. If you have concerns about Coffee and Caffeine consumption…consider your personal medical background and history and for further concerns it would then be wise to CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN!

Otherwise, enjoy a cup of Joe and call it a day!
 Until my next ‘Nutrition - Quick Tip’ (part II) “Coffee vs. Espresso”, those are my thoughts for today on the matter.
( Drip Coffee Vs. Espresso - Which really has more caffeine  - ‘PART II’ - )
                     - Coming up on the next Dish’in Nutrition -
Until Next Time-
POWER ON under your own God Given Energy and Strength…

** for a list of sited studies go to

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