It’s early morning and the sun is just starting to peek over the horizon. In a cozy kitchen, a kettle is singing on the stovetop, and the smell of freshly ground coffee beans fills the air. You watch the steam rise from the rich, dark liquid as the aroma fill your heart with joy. And that first sip…
Indeed, coffee is a vibe!
A cup of coffee is the first thing that comes to mind for Ikechukwu Odumuko, a matriculating student at Camps Bay High School, Cape Town.
“To me, it gives me a boost to be able to start my day and also useful when I am working,” he says.
An aroma to begin the day with
Odumuko says because this is his final year of high school, coffee has finally come to his rescue in keeping him up for extended periods, allowing him to study without feeling weary.
“One cup won’t keep me up for that long so I drink coffee thrice a day, one before I head to school and two during my study period so I can have all the focus I need.”
He says that while coffee is harmful due to excessive use, it is extremely beneficial when a person is always in need of energy to maintain continuous performance and is unable to find a solution.
‘I used to be an addict’
Phumeza Kula, from Ilitha Park, Cape Town, has loved coffee since she was a preteen. Her curiosity was piqued when she was handed a teacup instead of a coffee cup as a child.
She also noted that if she ever changes from her typical method of preparing coffee, it will seem like she hasn’t had any at all. Therefore, it’s best to stick to the two teaspoons per cup that she generally takes.
“I started out drinking one cup a day, but as my addiction developed, I was drinking two, three, and even four cups a day. Since not drinking it would give me a headache, I decided to substitute it with candies, when I’m away from home.”
Compared to before, Kula says her addiction has improved. She can now just have one cup per day, drink only water, and indulge in coffee candies when cravings hit.
Is coffee good for you?
The right amount might vary from person to person, but it is typically suggested to restrict your intake to roughly 300-400 mg of caffeine per day, according to Dr Mxolisi Xulu from Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital, in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.
Choose high-quality coffee, he advises. You might want to go for fair-trade or organic coffee beans. These options frequently use less pesticides and give farmers better working conditions. He says that freshly ground coffee also has a tendency to have a stronger flavour and fragrance.
The simpler, the better
He emphasises that it’s always a good idea to talk with a healthcare practitioner or dietitian before introducing any new supplements into your daily routine.
While you’re at it, Xulu advises being mindful of your cream and sugar intake. Adding too much cream, syrups or sugar can up the caloric content considerably.
“Opt for healthier alternatives like a splash of milk or a natural sweetener like honey or stevia.”
The possible health advantages of coffee
Xulu enumerates the health benefits associated with the consumption.
- Antioxidant properties: Coffee contains a significant amount of antioxidants, such as chlorogenic acid, which can help protect your cells from damage caused by harmful free radicals.
- Boosts energy and mental alertness: Coffee is well-known for its ability to increase energy levels and improve mental focus. This is mainly due to its high caffeine content, which stimulates the central nervous system and temporarily reduces fatigue.
- Enhances physical performance: Caffeine in coffee can also improve physical performance by increasing adrenaline levels, which can improve strength, endurance, and overall exercise performance. It may also help reduce muscle pain during workouts.
- Contains essential nutrients: Coffee is a source of several essential nutrients, including riboflavin (vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), manganese, potassium, and magnesium, albeit in small amounts. These nutrients contribute to overall health and well-being.
- May reduce the risk of certain diseases: Some studies have suggested that regular consumption may lower the risk of various diseases, including type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver diseases (such as cirrhosis and liver cancer), and certain types of cancer (such as colorectal and endometrial cancer).
Potential coffee side effects
Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that can interfere with sleep quality and quantity. He adds that consuming coffee, especially in the evening or close to bedtime, may lead to difficulty falling asleep or disrupted sleep patterns, though responses to coffee can vary, and some people may be more sensitive to caffeine than others.
Caffeine can temporarily elevate heart rate and blood pressure.
Xulu says, “Coffee is known to have a laxative effect and can stimulate bowel movements. This can be beneficial for some people, but for others, it may lead to digestive problems like acid reflux, heartburn, or an upset stomach.”
Regular consumption can lead to caffeine dependency, where your body becomes accustomed to the stimulant, he adds.
So, by all means, enjoy your morning cuppa but remember, too much of a good thing is bad for you.
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