There have been many clinical studies from the nineteenth century until today about coffee and it properties. In particular, scientists have been trying to verify whether drinking coffee has good or bad consequences on the human body. Well, none of these researches ever proved that coffee, and its main active compound, caffeine, is bad for your health (if assumed in the right doses); many of their benefits have been found instead.
Coffee began its history in South America; in the 1500s, the wise Sufis from Yemen used it to stay awake during their prayers. Coffee arrived in Europe about a century later and it was considered a medication. Caffeine was discovered by Ferdinand Runge, a German doctor, in the early 1800s.
About 80 years later, an Italian business man, Mr. Angelo Moriondo, was giving birth to the first espresso machine.
Caffeine has many benefits for the human body
It has a stimulating effect on the gastric secretion: this is the reason why it is generally believed that drinking coffee after lunch can help with digestion.
Caffeine also has a tonic and stimulating effect on heart and nerve funcion. That’s another good reason to have coffee after lunch: it allows you to skip that annoying phase that makes you feel sleepy when you’ve had too much to eat. It gives you an energy boost and makes you feel ready to go on with your daily activities.
It may be hard to believe, but caffeine has a lipolytic effect – it helps you lose weight. In fact, it stimulates your body to use its fat stocks to give you energy and it induces thermogenesis, increasing the amount of calories you burn during your normal, everyday activities.
If assumed in big doses, coffee also reduces your appetite
Caffeine, though, is not the only substance that coffee contains: most of the other ones are still being studied by scientists. A few of these other components that have been identified are believed to have good antioxidant properties, as well as antimutagenic and anti-inflammatory ones.
There are also some risks that come with drinking coffee and these must be taken into consideration too. Those risks highly depend on the amount of coffee you drink: small amounts don’t really have any bad consequences on the human body, but a few problems may insurge if too much caffeine is assumed.
We said before that caffeine has a stimulating effect on the gastric secretion: if the doses are too heavy, this can cause problems to the digestive system. The gastric juices are, in fact, extremely acid, and they could damage your stomach if too many are secreted. Therefore, people that suffer from ulcer, gastritis or esophageal reflux should not drink coffee, as it would be likely to make their condition worse.
The tonic and stimulating effect on heart and nerve funcion can be beneficial, but it can also damage people who suffer from insomnia, flushing and hypertension. Even if a person does not suffer from this kind of health issue, too much caffeine can still cause tachycardia, sudden changes in pressure and tremors.
Coffee only makes you lose weight if you do not add anything to it: it’s actually more caloric if you put sugar and milk in it. Sugar adds 20 calories for each teaspoon and milk in a macchiato adds 10 calories.
The inhibitory effect that caffeine has on the absorption of calcium and iron can favour the onset of anemia and osteoporosis.
How much caffeine is too much?
We said that coffee can cause problems when you drink too much. But how much coffee is too much?
The most reasonable limit on the amount of coffee that should be drunk everyday is 300 mg of caffeine. An espresso contains 60 mg of caffeine, a coffee made in a moka contains about 85. It is also important to remember, though, that caffeine does not only exist in coffee: it can also be found, even if it’s in smaller doses, in more than 60 plant species, hereby including chocolate and tea.
Therefore, the limit should be of three cups of espresso a day, for women and men of slender build, and four cups for males who have a more hefty physique.
Many women have difficulties abandoning their coffee during pregnancy, but it is good practice to limit its consumption during those nine months, as high doses of caffeine have been proved to be dangerous for the health of the fetus.