For many, the day starts when the coffee is brewed and poured. With a large portion of the population consuming this caffeinated beverage, it is important to decipher through the coffee myths and discover its truths. So the real question is, is coffee good for you, is coffee bad for you, or is there a happy medium?
The 6 Nitty Gritty Coffee Myths
1. Weight Loss
The consumption of caffeine might prevent weight gain or slightly aid in weight loss based on two theories. One: caffeine may increase appetite suppression, reducing the desire to eat and the overconsumption of food and calories. Two: caffeine has also been noted to stimulate thermogenesis, a process in which the body burns calories. However, these theories do not provide conclusive, definitive research results for significant and permanent weight loss. Keep in mind that specialty coffees can be loaded with fat and sugar, ultimately resulting in weight gain if too many are consumed for that extra daily jolt.
First thing's first, caffeine-containing drinks do have a mild diuretic effect. Diuretics increase the need to urinate, which would ultimately lead to the belief that daily cups of coffee would lead to dehydration. However, the Institute of Medicine has recently concluded caffeinated beverages can be included in the daily water needs and will not contribute to dehydration. In fact, the body develops a caffeine tolerance within three to five days of regular use. In reality, coffee is practically water. Since the body depends so heavily on water for critical processes, the body has the ability to negate the minor diuretic effect coffee provides.
3. Bone Loss
Research has shown too much caffeine can accelerate bone loss, although the mechanism and evidence remains unclear. With calcium playing a critical role in bone development and maintenance, adding milk to coffee may help offset the caffeinated consequences. Ultimately, weight bearing exercises and adequate intake of vitamin D and calcium are the best practices for decreasing the chance of bone loss and osteoporosis.
"I can't start my day without coffee!" That statement is used too often to justify an addiction to coffee. Although cups of coffee each morning would not affect daily functions of living the way other addictive drugs could, caffeine is a stimulant and may actually cause some kind of physical dependence. Giving up caffeinated beverages can certainly lead to withdrawal symptoms. The headaches, anxiety, irritability, and fatigue can disappear within a matter of days.
5. Causes Heart Disease
Some studies do in fact show a link between caffeine, coffee drinking, and coronary heart disease. With obesity and dietary factors playing a huge role in heart disease, results and evidence remain conflicting. It is important to remember caffeine reactions can be different between individuals. Some can experience elevated blood pressures or arrhythmias, also known as abnormal heart rhythms. Interestingly, there has been some suggesting research that coffee consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease, especially in women.
6. Harmful to Pregnant Women
Pregnant women can still enjoy morning coffee, but should keep it to no more than two cups or 200 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day. It is also important to remember caffeine can also be found in chocolate, which could be craved in pregnancy. Exceeding more than 200 mg of caffeine can increase the risk of miscarriage.
Up to 400 mg of coffee per day (approximately four cups) can fit into a safe diet for adults. Caffeine intake in children is not a good idea while adolescents should limit to 100 mg. Like previously mentioned, people react differently to caffeine. Four or more cups or those that are caffeine-sensitive may experience insomnia, restlessness, and stomach upset. Such unpleasant side effects can be minimized by minimizing or eliminating coffee or discussing with a physician for ultimate safety. After sifting through the myths and facts, there is suggestion that coffee can be good for you, and not necessarily bad for you, when following safe intake recommendations.
10 Pregnancy Health Myths Exposed. WebMD. Available at: http://www.webmd.boots.com/pregnancy/guide/10-pregnancy-health-myths-exposed
Laying the Caffeine-Dehydration Myth to Rest. The Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness. Available at: https://www.beverageinstitute.org/expert/laying-the-caffeine-dehydration-myth-to-rest/
Caffeine: How Much is Too Much? Mayo Clinic. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678
Caffeine and Heart Disease. American Heart Association. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Caffeine-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_305888_Article.jsp#.Vm9YnkorJD8