I was interested to read recently that coffee may help reduce the risk of depression. When I was researching my book the general consensus seemed to be that drinking coffee was a bad thing, along with anything else that effected brain chemistry. Still it makes sense that coffee would be better than alcohol, as it’s a stimulant rather than a depressant.
I gave up coffee and all caffeine for a number of years when I was trying to conceive. It was one of many alternative things I tried to maximise my chances. This wasn’t my first period of abstinence as I’d given it up in my twenties as part of a general drive to be healthy. I started drinking coffee again when I found out I couldn’t have children. My partner and I would emerge from each meeting with the consultant reeling from the latest shock and go to the hospital canteen for coffee and cake. Over time coffee and cake became our way of dealing with stress. When we were having a bad day we would head to Cafe Nero or Costa and hide in our own little cafe world.
When I first started drinking coffee again the effect was really noticeable. I would feel as though I was speeding, slightly spaced out. It felt good though, a positive high. It lasted about an hour. Now that’s all gone, coffee no longer has an effect that I notice. I can be sitting drinking my coffee and start feeling sleepy. I suppose we become resistant to the drug over time.
So I can see that caffeine could have an immediate positive impact on mood if you don’t drink it very often, but my experience is that the effect wears off over time if you drink it habitually. Still the drug is probably still affecting us, it’s just we don’t notice the effects.
The study shows a strong correlation between increased coffee drinking and reduced risk of clinical depression. More research is needed of course, but in the mean time should we all start drinking more coffee? I took a quick look online to see what the pros and cons of coffee drinking are on general health and I was amazed at what I discovered. There are some people with pre-existing conditions or particular susceptibility that need to be careful, but for most of us there seems to be more to be gained from drinking it than not. More research is needed on all this, but I have decided that I no longer need to feel guilty about my coffee habit.
· Possible reduction in risk of clinical depression.
· Some studies show that the risk for type 2 diabetes is lower among regular coffee drinkers than among those who don’t drink it ( this is thought to be due to the antioxidants present rather than the caffeine, so you could drink decaffeinated).
· Possible reduction in the risk of developing gallstones.
· Possible reduction in the development of colon cancer.
· Possible improvement in cognitive function.
· Possible reduction in the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
· Coffee has also been shown to improve endurance performance in long-duration physical activities.
· Possibly reduction in risk of prostate cancer.
· Possible reduction in breast cancer.
· Possible reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
· Possible reduction in risk of skin cancer.
· Possible reduction in the risk of liver damage in people at high risk for liver disease.
· Caffeine poisoning – you have to drink lots of really strong coffee, rare but I know someone who did this.
· The general advice is to avoid during pregnancy and when trying to conceive - Amongst other things coffee consumption can lead to iron deficiency anaemia in mothers and infants.
· It is mildly addictive for most people – I certainly get headaches if I stop drinking coffee and tea. We should be aware that we are using a drug and be sensible about how much we drink.
· It can cause modest cardiovascular effects such as increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and occasional irregular heartbeat. This is generally associated with high levels of consumption.
· Increases risk of acid reflux.
· Those with a depleted enzymatic system do not tolerate coffee well and should avoid it.
· Coffee contains over 1000 chemicals, many of which can be carcinogenic in large doses. Instant coffee is thought to contain more of some of the more harmful ones such as acrylamide.
· Coffee should be avoided by people with certain pre-existing conditions - eg gastroesophageal reflux disease, migraines and arrhythmias.
· It may cause sleeping problems.
· There is some evidence that drinking large amounts of coffee may make you more prone to headaches.
In general drinking filtered coffee is thought to be better than drinking instant.
Type 2 Diabetes
Wikipedia on Coffee