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What agent in coffee causes the harmful side effects?

(February 20, 2012)

For people all around the world, nothing marks the beginning of the day like a steaming hot cup of coffee. In fact, coffee has now become one of the most popular beverages and can be had either hot or cold and in a number of varieties such as instant, filter, and decaffeinated. Coffee is derived from coffee beans or seeds from the Coffee Arabica tree. These seeds are picked, roasted and then ground before being consumed. The main component of coffee is caffeine.

Different varieties of coffee contain different amounts of caffeine. For example espresso coffee and drip coffee are the most potent coffees around with caffeine contents of 100 mg and 175 mg respectively. Decaf coffee on the other hand has most of the caffeine removed and only contains 2-3 mg. Caffeine is considered a psychoactive substance but its use and consumption is legal and remains unregulated. Besides caffeine, coffee also contains amounts of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and lipids. Prior to being processed coffee beans also contain large amounts of polysaccharides and dietary fiber. However, after the roasting and grinding of the beans, most of the dietary fiber from coffee is lost. Also read about calories in coffee

Coffee if had in moderation can have several health benefits. Coffee acts as a stimulant and can increase alertness and alter your mood. It is believed that caffeine can boost athletic performances, help you lose weight and improve metabolism. Medically, drinking coffee is considered more dangerous than drinking tea. Experts believe that consuming too much coffee can cause certain types of neuro-genetic disorders.

The chemical ingredients in coffee granules include caffeine, tannin, thiamin, xanthine, spermidine, citric acid, chlorogenic acid, spermine, trigonelline, acetaldehyde, hypoxanthine, putrescine, and scopoletin. While these coffee ingredients may not be dangerous in small doses, too much coffee can lead to a number of health conditions and ailments such as sleep deprivation, high cholesterol levels, anxiety, tremors, rapid pulse, diarrhea, nausea, and kidney stones. Drinking coffee can become addictive, leading to withdrawal symptoms when a person stops or reduces his normal coffee consumption. Side effects or withdrawal symptoms from caffeine can include fatigue, drowsiness, headaches, lack of concentration and depression.

Effects of Coffee

Following are the health risks of coffee:

  • Blood pressure – Even if you don’t suffer from hypertension, drinking coffee can result in a sharp spike in your blood pressure levels. There are several theories about why this happens. Some experts believe that caffeine prevents the hormone adenosine, responsible for widening the arteries, from functioning normally. Other studies show that caffeine encourages the production of adrenaline that could cause blood pressure to increase. If you suffer from any kind of blood pressure problems, check with your doctor about limiting your intake of coffee and caffeinated drinks.
  • Pregnancy – Too much coffee during your pregnancy is never a good idea. It can leave you with an increased heart rate, high blood pressure, insomnia, and feelings of anxiety. Recent studies indicate that pregnant women who drink large amounts of coffee have a slighter higher risk of miscarriage than those who don’t. It is recommended that you limit your caffeine intake to 200 mg a day if you are pregnant.
  • Fetus - There is research that proves that even a small amount of coffee can directly affect the baby in the womb. This is because caffeine easily passes through the placenta and can affect the baby’s development. While adults may be able to process and break down caffeine easily, the unborn child is unable to do this as efficiently and the effects of caffeine last longer and are therefore more dangerous. Caffeine can increase the baby’s heart rate and prevent the proper absorption of iron and calcium required for proper development.
  • Teeth – Regular coffee drinkers tend to develop dark brown stains on their teeth. This problem can be remedied by regular cleaning at the dentist or in severe cases of discoloration, the use of porcelain veneers on stained teeth.
  • Brain – Caffeine in coffee acts as a stimulant to the brain. It increases the activity in the brain that results in more focus and alertness. Caffeine accomplishes this by binding the adenosine receptors in the brain, making neurons in the brain more active than normal. Caffeine in coffee also causes the pituitary gland to release more adrenaline in the body resulting in a faster heart rate and an increase of blood flow to the muscles. Studies show that while you may reap the benefits of increased alertness and concentration with one cup of coffee, your second cup could cause feelings of anxiety or irritability and problems such as disturbed sleep cycles and headaches. More information on caffeine overdose
  • Diabetes – It is believed that the antioxidants in coffee help reduce the risk of diabetes. There are compounds present in coffee known as lignans that help control blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Recent research shows that drinking decaf coffee also reduces the risk of diabetes, therefore not linking the effects to the caffeine present in coffee.
  • Acne – Acne and coffee intake have always been linked together. Excessive consumption of coffee is said to aggravate the digestive system and indirectly affect the skin. Caffeine also leads to stress and excessive perspiration that could clog the pores on the skin and cause acne.
  • Heart – As coffee raises blood pressure and cholesterol levels, it is evident that too much coffee can increase the risk of heart problems. Too much caffeine may cause irregular heart rate, palpitations, anxiety attacks and heart attack. However, there is no conclusive evidence as yet to directly link caffeine and heart disease.
  • Stomach and digestive system – Some people are more sensitive to coffee and caffeine than others. Digestive problems such as indigestion, bloating, nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, and belching can be attributed to the excessive consumption of caffeine. Caffeine also stimulates the nervous system resulting in the production of excessive stomach acids that can aggravate any digestive problems as well.
Submitted by N on February 20, 2012 at 03:25


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