Coffee: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Turkish Proverb: "Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and as sweet as love."

The Good

Medicinal purposes
     There are two main uses of coffee for medicine. One is used by many mainstream pharmaceutical companies and another by those who practice alterative medicine. Manufacturers of pain relieving medications often add a bit of caffeine into their pills because it increases their effectiveness. This is most often used for aspirin medicines used to treat head aches and migraines. Those who subscribe to non-mainstream alterative medicine will often use coffee enemas to clean the colon out. Currently modern medicine has been unable to prove that these enemas are truly effective.

More of the good
     Coffee can reduce your risk of diabetes, prevent cancer, heart disease, help with weight loss and even increase your IQ and short term memory! Sounds like a line from a tabloid article doesn't it? We'll go into more depth though on each of those topics.
     Research has shown that coffee reduces the risk of getting one type of diabetes (mellitus type 2) by up to half. This might only be true in people who drink large amounts of coffee however, and is less effective for the average coffee drinker.
     Coffee isn't the cure for cancer, but then again prevention is the key to good health. Coffee contains an anti-cancer compound known as methylpyridinium. Coffee doesn't naturally have this compound however; it's added during the roasting process. This anti-cancer compound is found in normal coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and even instant coffee. Make sure that you're not using an artificial sweetener that uses aspartame however since that will raise your chance of cancer right up again. Coffee helps reduce the risk of some liver, colon, and bladder cancers.
     Heart disease and weight loss in one good tasting drink, too good to be true eh? Well they might actually be tied together. Coffee is known to rid the blood of excess fat which may help with heart disease. Currently it's not known if this is the reason coffee reduces the risk of heart disease or if it's because of its stimulating effect.
     Need to take a test, coffee will help you pass with an A+. People who don't often drink coffee will get a short boost to their IQ and to their short term memory. However if you are a heavy coffee drinker this likely won't have any effect whatsoever on your IQ or memory.
     On a side note about its nutritional value, according to Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton coffee represents, by far the largest source of valuable antioxidants in our diet.
     How much should you drink to get some of these effects? Most of the effects occur at between 4 and 5 cups per day.

The Bad

     Seems like coffee is some kind of a wonder drug from above, but it does have its bad side. Coffee can greatly increase the risk of stillbirths. A Danish study reported on the stillbirth topic with this information, "The results seem to indicate a threshold effect around four to seven cups per day," Because of this doctors generally will advise patients not to drink excessive amounts of coffee while pregnant.

More of the bad
     Coffee can increase blood pressure in those who already have high blood pressure. Another study has shown that cafestol, a compound which is present in boiled coffee, greatly increase cholesterol levels, especially in women.

And the Ugly  
     Here are a few of the truly ugly things about coffee. Coffee is a diuretic and will make you more likely to go to the bathroom often. With over consumption people start to become a little over active. In this condition people are similar to somebody who suffers from ADD (attention deficit disorder). Symptoms include being unable to concentrate and annoying actions like constantly tapping tables, or moving legs up and down. Finally the ugliest thing about coffee is its ability to stain your teeth just like cigarettes. The best way to avoid this is to brush your teeth after every coffee drink you enjoy. So watch out coffee could leave you with a very large dental bill.

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