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Over the last few years, coffee houses have been mushrooming in our little towns and cities. Coffee is no longer a beverage for the urban classes alone, instead it is not considered the most happening places to hangout with your friends. In fact it has reached the rural masses considerably, although it still isn’t the most popular drink among them. I guess it’s difficult to take “chai” out of an Indian that easily!

Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance and it is the prime ingredient of coffee. However, caffeine alone does not influence our health and the numerous other ingredients in a refreshing cup of coffee, are equally responsible. Similarly the type of coffee you consume, whether it is decaf or a double-shot espresso or the flurry Macchiato, also affects your body.

To begin with, let us see what benefits of coffee have been unearthed through research:

  1. Daily coffee consumption is found to have reduced the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and even cancers like prostate cancer and skin cancer such as development of basal cell carcinoma. It is also known to reduce the risk of strokes if consumed within a limited 2 to 4 cups daily.
  2. It is often advised to drink a cup of Joe before heading to work out. The caffeine in it helps in breaking the fat cells stored in the body thus boosting the body with energy. The high amounts of caffeine in black coffee accentuate our metabolism thus helping to burn more calories.
  3. Caffeine and other components of coffee are found to have appetite suppressing qualities. This reduces our desire to over-consume food.
  4. According to a research conducted by the Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology at University of Barcelona, coffee and glucose together have been found to increase attention and efficiency of the working memory processes (activities of short-term memory responsible for processing information and sending them to long term memory for storage for a long time)

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However, drinking coffee doesn’t come without risks. Let us find out some of caffeine’s side effects:

  1. One of the Finnish studies reveal that about 19,000 people, who drank four cups of coffee or more, showed signs of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Some researchers, on the other hand, believe it is the unidentified components of unfiltered coffee that triggered the disease.
  2. A study was conducted on 980 post-menopausal women in Canada, who drank two cups of coffee per day. It was found that the caffeine acts as a diuretic, increasing the amount of calcium excreted in urine. Thus, it leads to decrease in bone density.
  3. It is advisable to cut down the intake of sugar with coffee, as the combined effects of both leads to weight gain.
  4. The coffee plant is laden with a lot of pesticides. Make sure you are drinking organic variety coffee, which is free of harmful pesticides, chemicals and herbicides. Again, chemically decaffeinated coffee is bound to adversely affect the body.
  5. Drinking coffee or any other caffeinated drinks before going to bed can trouble your sleep. Generally it takes 6 hours for the effects of coffee to wear down and this time increases over age. Thus, while intake of large sums of coffee helps to stay awake the whole night to get your deadlines cleared, it can have adverse effects on your sleep cycle in the long run.

So should we give up coffee? The answer is no.

Too much of anything is harmful. Sizeable and adequate amounts of coffee can overpower its cons. However, the concept of “a cup of coffee” differs from person to person, so do the size of cups. It has been found that 4 cups of coffee a day is ideal for an adult.  That is roughly 400 milligrams.  However, adolescents should limit caffeine consumption. So, don’t worry, you can still visit those beautiful cafes in Bangalore, while keeping a tap on your consumption habits.

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