Coffee became a habit I picked up in high school when I was too exhausted to stay up but too busy to go to sleep. I’d reach for it when a night of homework rolled over into the next morning, when my eyelids felt saggy and my body felt heavy. Worse, I found myself making a pot when I was feeling “snacky” after a long day of school…a cup of coffee must be better than all of the junk food I would have eaten in its place, right? Soon, coffee became a means of facilitating social interaction (you know, the classic, “hey, want to get coffee later?”). I was knee deep in java, and it became such a vital part of my life that I would drink it in any form presented…black, flavored, sugared down, or the classic “cream with a little bit of coffee.” My order transformed from Tall to Grande to Venti, and more recently, to Trenta. Though my craving for coffee has since been mollified a bit, I still like a cup in the morning…and sometimes in the afternoon as well. Why is something so seemingly harmless frowned upon? I looked into finding the answer, and perhaps if the coffee drinking habit of me and millions of people all around the world could be beneficial. Really, how bad is the necessary cup of jo?
According to Dr. Rob van Dam, a disease and nutrition expert at Harvard School of Public Health, coffee is not as bad for us as we think, at least in moderation. Van Dam found no solid evidence backing up long held claims that coffee leads to increased risk of cancer or early death, but instead found that coffee drinking actually may decrease a person’s risk for cancer, as well as lowering rates of type-2 diabetes and protection against Parkinson’s disease. Coffee may also improve brain function, memory, energy levels, and overall mood, according to Time Magazine, Health section.
Actually, the only significant claims against moderate coffee drinking (“moderate,” as defined by the FDA, means 400 mg, or about four cups, a day for a healthy adult) were minor and limited. Research shows that coffee consumption during pregnancy may lead to birth defects. Frequent coffee drinking also has the potential to stain teeth, which is simply solvable with a straw. The anti-coffee movement stems from the perception of people of all ages downing cups of coffee until they are so over-caffeinated that they feel tremors, uneasiness, nervousness, or an upset stomach. However, moderate drinking seems to present more benefits than detriments to one’s health, and overall well-being.
As long we remain conscious about what we are putting into our coffee, how often we are drinking it, and our state of health (i.e. age or pregnancy), it may be used as an assistant – a perky partner to get us through the day, and oftentimes an incentive to wake up in the morning.