Archive for January, 2012

Coffee

Image via Wikipedia

There is a very common belief that coffee, or more specifically the caffeine that coffee contains, is bad for your health.  From cardiovascular risks to stunted growth, people have a lot of ideas about how caffeine is harmful.  Today, I’d like to address these ideas, as well as show you some potential benefits that you can gain from consuming caffeine responsibly.

First of all, here are some common beliefs related to caffeine:

#1: Caffeine is addictive.  Most experts do not consider caffeine to be addictive.  If you abruptly stop taking caffeine, there is a good chance you will experience some withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, but these tend to only last for a day or two.

#2: Caffeine keeps up you up at night.  This one can be true, but if you consume caffeine properly, there’s no reason it should have any effect on your sleep schedule.  Caffeine typically leaves your body relatively quickly, within about 7 hours after consumption.  This means that as long as you’re not consuming caffeine late in the evening or at night, you should be fine.

#3: Caffeine causes adverse side effects to your cardiovascular or bone health.  Again, this one CAN be true, but as long as you consume caffeine responsibly, you’re not at any greater risk.  As long as you limit your caffeine intake to about 300 mg per day (about 3 cups of coffee), studies indicate that you’re not at any greater risk for osteoporosis, high cholesterol, increased heart rate, or cardiovascular disease.

So now that we’ve cleared up a few common misconceptions about caffeine, let’s take a look at it’s potential benefits.  The most obvious benefit of caffeine consumption is an increase in your energy levels.  Here’s some other interesting things to note, from WebMD.com:

1)  “A growing body of research shows that coffee drinkers, compared to nondrinkers, are:

  • less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia
  • have fewer cases of certain cancers, heart rhythm problems, and strokes

‘There is certainly much more good news than bad news, in terms of coffee and health,’ says Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.”

2) “In a study of about 130,000 Kaiser Permanente health plan members, people who reported drinking 1-3 cups of coffee per day were 20% less likely to be hospitalized for abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) than nondrinkers, regardless of other risk factors.

And, for women, coffee may mean a lower risk of stroke.

In 2009, a study of 83,700 nurses enrolled in the long-term Nurses’ Health Study showed a 20% lower risk of stroke in those who reported drinking two or more cups of coffee daily compared to women who drank less coffee or none at all. That pattern held regardless of whether the women had high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and type 2 diabetes.”

3)  Caffeine has also been shown to improve anaerobic performance (strength training)!

So while I will stop well short of telling you to drink a pot of coffee everyday to keep the doctor away, it is clear that caffeine’s negative effects are largely blown out of proportion.  Consume caffeine responsibly, and you can potentially lower your risk of several diseases, improve your strength, and of course, increase your energy.

That’s all for now!

Adam Reeder, cPT
Adam@GetFunctionalTraining.com