Coffee consumption: the good, the bad, the ugly

A copious amount of college students run on coffee. This delicious drink is what fuels some of Hope’s most ambitious scholars, some of whom wouldn’t be caught dead without a mug within arm’s reach. Coffee drinkers may wonder, however, as they sip this glorious nectar of the gods, what effect is this having on my body? Most are probably aware of the obvious boost in energy, but how does that work? Is it beneficial for more than just waking up and getting moving? The good news is this: there are numerous ways coffee can help improve a person’s health, from the heart all the way to the liver. According to eating well. com, the antioxidants found in coffee are the real MVPs. Damage to brain cells can be prevented by these antioxidants, as well as boosting the effects of neurotransmitters that will help to reduce the drinker’s risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s or even Parkinson’s disease.

Another crazy way these magical coffee antioxidants help out are by preventing Type II diabetes; they supposedly have the capability to boost a cell’s sensitivity to insulin, reducing the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. This prevention only goes so far, however— if the coffee is coming in the form of a super-sugary caramel mocha latte, the effects may be counteracted. The heart also benefits from the antioxidants, which they can reduce inflammation in the arteries, lowering the chance of a heart attack. There have been experiments done that show a correlation implying that coffee may aid in preventing cancer. By activating DNA repairing proteins, compounds found in coffee brews have the capability of preventing damage that leads to cells becoming cancerous.

The effects of coffee are not all butterflies and rainbows, however. Depending on a person’s sensitivity to and tolerance for caffeine, it is possible to get negative effects in the form of irritable jitters and poor sleep. How does this work? Caffeine chemicals bind to receptors, which are responsible for receiving the chemical that induces relaxation and sleep. This means that nerve cell activity is accelerated, causing the coffee drinker to feel shaky or anxious. Research shows that coffee takes about six hours to leave someone’s system, so drinking caffeine anytime in the late afternoon or evening will affect a person’s quality of sleep, even if they no longer feel the effects. This can create a cycle of fatigue for coffee drinkers. The coffee reduces quality of sleep, so the tired person drinks more coffee to compensate the next day, in turn continuing to make their sleep patterns worse and need for caffeine increase.

Hope student Claire Buck (’22) weighs in with her own coffee addiction experience: “If I found out coffee was destroying my heart piece by piece, I would still drink it because I need it.” Clearly, some are more dependent on this beverage than others. Now, at least all will know what’s going on inside when sipping a warm coffee brew. Hot bean juice will always be a favorite for college students, new moms and businesspeople. Regardless of who you are, please remember to drink responsibly.



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