T his is one of the ongoing debates of our times – is coffee bad for you? The experts disagree about the details, but the overwhelming consensus is that, in moderation coffee isn’t bad for you; it may in fact be beneficial.

We know that there are over 150 000 coffee farmers in Kenya and that about six million Kenyans are employed directly or indirectly in the coffee industry. This means that coffee has been very much part of our lives and the lives of generations before us.

Caffeine had Different Effects on the Brain
It’s caffeine that is really the issue. Caffeine in coffee doesn’t impart any proven health benefits, but it won’t harm you when taken in moderation – and according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), that translates to as many as three cups of coffee a day.

However, if you have acid reflux, are prone to stress, suffer from high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat, you should avoid caffeinated coffee or only drink small amounts.

Caffeine, however has health risks of its own and this should always be kept in mind. It is a mood altering drug and can become addictive. Caffeine also has different effects on how the brain and the nervous system work.

When doctors talk about moderate caffeine use, they talk about somewhere in the range of 300 to 400 milligrams. Most coffee drinkers tend to be in that range. The effect varies so much, depending on your size, if you’re a smoker, if you have a genetic predisposition to metabolize caffeine slowly.

Some Positive and Negative Facts about Coffee
• Drinking up to six cups a day of coffee is not associated with increased risk of death from any cause, or death from cancer or cardiovascular disease
• Pregnant women and people with high blood pressure or blood sugar problems should consider switching to decaf or stop drinking coffee altogether
• It’s best to brew coffee with a paper filter, to remove a substance that causes increases in LDL cholesterol
• Coffee may have potential health benefits, but more research needs to be done
• Coffee appears to help ward off stroke, depression in women and cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. It has even been shown to lessen the pain of exercise.
• The caffeine in coffee can have several negative effects, such as temporary insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, stomach issues, rapid heartbeat and muscle tremors, according to the Mayo Clinic.
• Finally, if you stop consuming caffeine, you may experience significant, life-interfering withdrawal symptoms, including headache, fatigue, irritability, depressed mood and difficulty concentrating.

So, although coffee may have fewer risks compared with benefits, keep in mind that other beverages, such as milk and some fruit juices, contain nutrients that coffee does not. Also, adding cream or milk and sugar to your coffee adds more fat and calories.

Side Effects from Caffeine
Coffee is only bad for you if the side effects from caffeine become a problem – most notably insomnia, increased urination and heart palpitation.

So although we can guardedly say that coffee isn’t bad for you, it is probably best to be enjoyed in moderation.

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