Do you know the effect of Coffee you drink daily?

By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer

Most of us drink coffee without being mindful of drinking coffee, instead whilst occupied with some other work, such as reading a book, being social and chatting in company, or even may be working with your computer you keep sipping your coffee.

If you are mindful of drinking your cup of coffee, you relax more, enjoy the flavour with a contented feeling with every sip.

Now, how do we define ‘mindfulness’? It is the basic human ability to be fully aware of what we are doing and not overly reactive to what’s going on around us.

Most of us need our cup of coffee as soon as we get up from bed in the morning. It tends to boost your energy level promptly and stimulates your joints and muscles.

The experts say that this is more a habit than a requirement, and they say that you should not drink coffee on an empty stomach as you wake up in the morning. Coffee tends to stimulate the secretion of acid gastric juice.

Furthermore, coffee increases the level of cortisol. Coffee seems to stimulate your adrenal glands to produce this hormone cortisol. Drinking coffee in the morning as a routine may have the consequences of elevated cortisol on your health when it is least required.

Cortisol is a necessary stress hormone secreted at a time you are stressed, or panic. Spikes of cortisol can trigger release of amino acids from the muscles, glucose from the liver and fatty acids from the fat reserves into your blood stream, providing and preparing your body a tremendous amount of energy.

Caffeine increases cortisol secretion in people at rest or undergoing mental stress. What it means is that caffeine consumption leads to a stress mode, like those experienced during an acute stress.

Drinking coffee recreates stress conditions of your body.
Today, most people drink their cup of coffee sitting down and such amounts of energy from the activation of cortisol is not required. This can be referred as a cortisol jolt and such influx of cortisol may have a deleterious effect on your stress level and puts your body into a ‘catabolic’ state. It is a phase that causes widespread tissue destruction, muscle waste, softening of bones (osteoporosis) affecting your immune system, and they say even brain shrinkage.

It is advisable to have a strong cup of coffee before your morning jog or walking your 10,000 steps, but not for those spend time with their computer or being sedentary

Most experts feel that the favourite caffeinated beverage should be taken around 10 a.m. This is considered for people who must get up in the morning and go for work and active in office.

Our circadian clocks seem to regulate our sleep patterns and is pre-programmed into us genetically. This clock controls our cortisol production by the adrenals. More secretion of cortisol in the morning makes us feel that we are awake and alert. We can mess with this cycle through our life habits- such as drinking coffee first thing in the morning.

Drink Tea when you wake up in the morning
Coffee has around twice the amount of caffeine as tea. Coffee gives a ‘quick jolt’ of energy due to cortisol hormone secretion by the adrenals. Tea with lesser amounts of caffeine seems to have no such jolts and is preferred as the morning wake up beverage.

Drinking coffee at other times -European research, led by epidemiologist Dr Marc Gunter of Imperial College, London states that a study of more than half a million people over 16 years-has shown that those who drank the most coffee had a reduced risk of premature death from any cause.

But regular tea drinkers have been found to live longer, an Australian study published in The Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015 showed that women in their 70s and 80s lived longer if they had the equivalent of two cups of tea a day. This is because tea has a unique compound that can change the body’s genetic code.

Tea or coffee -health benefits
It is claimed that a compound in black tea could help gut bacteria fight infections and prevent sever influenza, say scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in the latest issue of the journal, Science.

Tea is better for heart health
Both tea and coffee have been linked with reduced risk of heart disease. Nevertheless, it is quite common in most people that caffeine in coffee tends to stimulate the receptors in the cells of your heart muscles and increase the heart rate. This may speed up your blood flow, raise your blood pressure, increase your blood sugar, and produce more urine.

Increasing heart rate can start 15 minutes of your cuppa and can last for about six hours.

You are warned that you should not have more than 400mg of caffeine a day (equivalent to four espressos)

If you are a regular coffee drinker, it will affect your heart least compared to people who drink coffee occasionally.

Dutch research published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association in 2010, revealed that drinking more than six cups of tea per day was associated with a 36 per cent lower risk of heart disease compared to those who drank less than a single cup of tea per day. Daily coffee drinkers, on the contrary, had a 20 per cent lower risk of heart disease.

Rise in blood sugar
In April 2011 a study from the University of Guelph showed that not only a healthy person’s blood sugar spiked after eating a high fat meal, but that the spike doubles after having both fatty meal and caffeinated coffee- increasing to levels to people who are risk for diabetes.

The saturated fat combined with coffee prevents the ability to remove sugar from the blood by insulin, and that may affect your blood vessels and other organs.

Blood cholesterol levels
Did you know that coffee raises your blood cholesterol level temporarily? According to US research from Baylor College of Medicine published in the July 2007 edition of journal Molecular Endocrinology, a chemical called cafestol elevates cholesterol. Tea does not seem to raise your blood cholesterol.

Green Tea can cross the brain-blood barrier

Herbal Director at Pukka Herbs MacLennan states in Portuguese research published in Frontiers in Bioscience in 2011, suggests that compounds in green tea can cross the brain-blood barrier to reach the nerve tissues and help in protecting neurons (nerve cells) and reduce the decline in brain function.

Bone softening
Regular coffee drinkers may have reduced absorption of calcium and weaken the bone density. That may be compensated by adding milk to your coffee.

On the other hand, black and green tea improves bone strength

Coffee tends to improve the power of muscles in older people giving strength reducing the incidence of instability.

Parkinson’s disease sufferers must drink coffee daily and the caffeine seems to ease the symptoms. Caffeine stimulates brain cell activity. It is also observed that people who drink coffee may have a decreased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Young children drinking coffee
Young children should avoid drinking coffee as the symptoms such as insomnia, jitteriness, upset stomachs may occur even with smaller doses of caffeine.

Bottom line: Adults should avoid drinking coffee first thing in the morning unless they are going to be very active. Tea is considered a better beverage to drink in the morning and for better health, strength and longevity.

Hope this article has been useful

Dr Gunatillake-Health editor is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. Member of the Australian Association of Cosmetic Surgery. Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (UK), Corresponding Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, Member of the International Societies of Cosmetic surgery, Fellow of the International College of Surgery (US), Australian diplomat for the International Society of Plastic, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery, Board member of the International Society of Aesthetic Surgery, Member of the American Academy of Aesthetic & restorative Surgery, Life Member of the College of Surgeons, Sri Lanka, Batchelor of Medicine & Surgery (Cey): Government scholar to UK for further studies.

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