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Is Coffee Healthy For You?

 
28/09/2017 | By Freedom Health Insurance
With the rise of cafes, restaurants and fast food outlets in the UK over the last 5 years (their numbers grew by 6,000), Britons are now drinking more coffee than ever, with an estimated 2.1 billion coffees being consumed annually outside the home. With this steep rise in coffee consumption, many are probably asking themselves: is coffee healthy for us?






The active substance in coffee is caffeine. It is a natural stimulant found in the seeds and leaves of many plants such as tea, coffee and cacao plants. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system increasing alertness, giving a temporary energy boost and alleviating mood.

The effects of coffee and caffeine on health have been covered by numerous studies and this article will try to reveal some of the main potential health benefits and health risks.

Potential health benefits

  • Reducing the risk of liver disease - A study by the University of Southampton has found that drinking coffee regularly may reduce the risk of liver cirrhosis - the scarring of the liver caused by long-term liver damage, preventing the liver working properly.

  • Lowering the risk of diabetes – Coffee contains polyphenols, which are molecules that contain anti-oxidant properties and are thought to help in the prevention of inflammatory illnesses such as type 2 diabetes. According to Diabetes.co.uk, a 2009 study of 40,000 participants found a 40% decreased risk of type 2 diabetes amongst those who consumed 3 cups of tea or coffee a day.

  • Helping prevent Parkinson’s disease – According to Parkinson’s UK, a small study revealed that regularly drinking coffee may reduce the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease and may slightly alleviate its symptoms.

Health Risks

Although the NHS doesn’t set up a limit on caffeine consumption for healthy individuals, the general advice is that around 400mg of caffeine a day is safe, approximately 4 cups of instant coffee. We must be careful when drinking coffee, as consuming too much caffeine could lead to anxiety and problems sleeping according to a European Food Safety Authority study. Apart from coffee and tea, caffeine is also found in chocolate, some soft drinks, pain relievers, other over-the-counter medications and also food supplements.

Although the recommended maximum intake of caffeine per day is 400mg, coffee affects everyone differently, partly due to how sensitive they are to the effects of caffeine and also depending on how much and how often they consume coffee; this is why Gaynor Bussell, a registered dietician within the British Dietician Association says that ‘’we should all try to drink coffee in moderation while paying attention to our own bodies’’.

The NHS also recommends cutting down on caffeine if you’re drinking more than four cups of coffee a day, as it may increase your blood pressure, even if you don’t generally have high blood pressure.

Conclusion

Some research suggests that coffee could potentially provide some health benefits when paired with a healthy diet and lifestyle, however, we need to be aware of the potential health risks of an increased consumption of coffee and caffeine in general. If you have concerns about your caffeine drinking you should talk to your GP.