Before I began college last fall, I was just another naïve, sheltered girl. I did not grow up with the magical bean in my life (espresso) because my parents never drank coffee. I never had the experience of waking up in the morning to the smell of coffee brewing. Therefore, I never felt the need to drink coffee, even the smallest sip tasted bitter to me.
However, with endless amount of bio and chem tests in college, I was forced to stay awake somehow. After slowly transitioning from a half-cup of milk in my iced coffee to only a couple tablespoons, I can now proudly state espresso has grown on me a latte.
With consuming at least two cups of it a day, I decided it might be a good idea to research the beneficial and negative effects of coffee. Not that the negative effects would ever stop me from the joy of always drinking a cup of coffee every morning anyway. I would only actually consider giving up coffee if a risk of death from espresso were involved (but don’t worry it isn’t).
Withdrawal symptoms may occur.
The biggest negative effect, to which most strong coffee drinkers can attest, is withdrawal symptoms when abruptly stopping the habit of regular coffee drinking. While withdrawal symptoms can result in headache, drowsiness, and reduced alertness, all symptoms may be avoided if caffeine intake is slowly decreased instead of rapidly giving up coffee.
The good news is also that caffeine cannot induce dependence, only withdrawal symptoms, as confirmed by the World Health Organization. Drinking large amounts of coffee promotes larger amounts of release of stress hormones such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol. These stress hormones stimulate the ‘fight or flight’ response- leading to an increase of heart rate, tension levels and blood pressure (healthambition.com).
Coffee may improve alertness.
On the contrary, the caffeine in coffee also leads to a large amount of health benefits (if the amount of coffee consumed is not greater than 3-5 cups a day). Studies conducted by Coffee and Health show that caffeine may improve alertness and attention, therefore enhancing memory performance.
Black coffee has few calories than a number of other caffeinated drinks.
Black coffee, without any extra sugars, also has a very few amount of calories compared to other caffeine substitutes, such as energy drinks.
Coffee may reduce the risk of developing certain diseases.
While studies have not provided definite causation between caffeine consumption and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, the studies have suggested that regular coffee consumption reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, compared to non-coffee drinkers (coffeeandhealth.org). Risk of the diseases has been shown to decrease with increasing caffeine intake.
Although there may be negatives associated with daily consumption of coffee such as increased heart rate, I have sedimental value in coffee, believing that the positives (in addition to the heavenly taste) greatly outweigh them. With all of the positives that result from drinking coffee, especially at 3 a.m. when scrambling to finish a paper, if you have not tried coffee, I recommend you give it a shot.