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I'm a writer who specializes in creating nature and biology articles. I also write about other topics, including the beautiful province of British Columbia.

Coffee Conundrum: Potential Health Benefits and Drawbacks

I love my morning cup of coffee. I love drinking coffee during the day as well, but it has some drawbacks for me if I drink it too often. These drawbacks are not mine alone. Coffee has a a dual identity. It has potentially great health benefits, but it also has disadvantages. Some people may need to balance its intake with other beverages, as I have to.

Coffee beans and a beverage made from them may have health benefits. (Photo by Bilgiamiri, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0 License)

Decaffeinated Coffee and Additions to the Drink

The observations below are related to caffeinated coffee. Often, the intact drink containing caffeine is referred to when people discuss its health benefits. The decaffeinated beverage is also said to have benefits for our health, though, which is good for people who must avoid caffeine.

Most of the investigations that I’ve seen has investigated the benefits of coffee brewed in water. Milk and sugar haven’t been considered. Drinking coffee with sugar would very likely be bad for our teeth. The safety of any artificial or nontraditional sweeteners that we want to use should be investigated. Adding milk to coffee may be okay, but this shouldn’t be assumed for all of the reported health benefits.

Potential Health Benefits of Coffee

Johns Hopkins Medicine is a major university and hospital in the United States. Their article in the reference section below describes some benefits of coffee, but it’s interesting that they title the article “Reasons Why (the Right Amount of) Coffee is Good for You”. People need to discover the appropriate amount of the drink for their body.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine and other sources, evidence exists supporting the idea that coffee ingestion reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and diabetes. Coffee drinking is also said to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and colon cancer. These potential benefits sound wonderful, but it’s important to note that if other aspects of our diet and lifestyle are unhealthy, they may overcome any benefits of the coffee that we drink.

Damaged DNA

Johns Hopkins Medicine says that drinking coffee also decreases breakage in our DNA, which I’ve never read before. DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, contains our genes as segments of the molecule. As readers may know, genes control many of our characteristics. Our bodies do have ways to repair broken DNA, but reducing the damage would be excellent. Unfortunately, there has been criticism about this effect of coffee on DNA. As I mention below, people should check several sources of information with respect to an important health topic, even if a particular source seems to be reliable.

Some Disadvantages of Drinking Coffee

Coffee is known for staining teeth. Various websites have suggestions for removing these stains. If you want to try an at-home method, make sure that you follow instructions from a reliable source, such as a dentist’s office. It’s important that you don’t damage your teeth during stain removal.

Caffeinated coffee acts as a diuretic and therefore increases the need to urinate. People may find that decaffeinated coffee reduces this need. They might want to explore the decaffeinating method of a product before they buy it. Some methods are classified as “natural”, though removing a component of the coffee bean could be viewed as an unnatural process whatever method is used.

The biggest problem that I have with the beverage is that if I drink too much, it upsets my stomach. Since caffeine is known to do this, I plan to buy some decaffeinated coffee and alternate drinking the caffeinated and decaffeinated version. Perhaps that will help the situation.

Any additions to a cup of coffee should be carefully considered for their effects on health. (Photo by Nenad Stojkovic, via flickr, CC BY 2.0 License)

Important Considerations: Coffee and Caffeine

It’s important to read articles about coffee’s benefits from normally reliable health sources, and even then to see if other normally reliable sources agree with them. It’s also important to note how many cups of coffee have been involved in the studies. The reports that I’ve looked at have mentioned two to five cups a day. Going beyond five cups might negate health benefits and even cause problems. This may be especially true if the coffee is caffeinated.

Caffeine is a powerful substance. It’s vital that anyone who is pregnant consults their doctor about caffeine in the diet. The chemical can cross the placenta and enter the developing baby. Caffeine in the mother’s diet may have to be restricted. It may have to be restricted in other people’s diet as well. Anyone with concerns about the substance should seek a doctor’s advice, whatever their gender or age.

An Interesting and Enjoyable Beverage

My beverage of choice used to be tea. I still drink tea occasionally, as well as herbal teas, but my favourite beverage today is coffee. Its potential health benefits intrigue me, though tea and some herbal teas also offer benefits for our health.

Human biology and factors affecting it can be complex, but I find the study fascinating. Despite the fascination of new discoveries, it’s important to be cautious with respect to health. Some researchers may disagree with other researchers, and sometimes a fact that has been believed for some time is disproved.

Differences in the effects of caffeinated and the decaffeinated version is one situation that needs to be clarified with respect to the link between coffee and health. The method of decaffeinating might also be important in this regard. Nevertheless, multiple projects to date have shown that drinking any type of coffee in moderate amounts is likely to benefit our health in more than one way. It’s an intriguing beverage.

References

Why coffee is good for you from Johns Hopkins Medicine

Coffee lowers risk of heart problems from CNN

The effect of drinking coffee on our health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) criticism of a study showing that coffee protects DNA from breakage