Friday, January 8, 2010

Coffee Talk - A hot topic from Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Brueck

(The following article is offered as interesting information about coffee, based on research of several sources. It is not intended as medical advice from Dr. Brueck, and should not be taken as such.)

"Let's have another cup of Java. Let's have another cup of Joe." Those lyrics from a WWII-era song reflect how deeply and how long coffee has been ingrained in American culture. That's right. They used to call it "java" and "joe".

Coffee almost certainly is the national drink of the USA. A super-majority of us drink it at least occasionally. Following on from countless neighborhood coffee shops, its popularity fueled one of America's most successful retail chains, originally based primarily on the idea of serving coffee. Starbucks in turn added other new words to the American vernacular, such as “vente” and “latte”.

There is something both very social and very private about coffee.

From the gathering of friends around a pot of hot black brew to the quiet expectancy of the first morning sip of "wake-me-up", there are few, if any, things quite so satisfying for everyday Americans.

Coffee drinkers in the US put away an average of slightly more than three nine-ounce cups per day. More than half (53%) of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every morning. Another 30% consume coffee on occasion. That makes the total percentage of Americans who drink coffee around 80%. Only water may exceed it.

What is all this coffee consumption worth? It’s estimated that the average coffee drinker spends more than $164.00 per year on coffee. If you are a commuter, chances are you have spent more than 40 hours a year standing in line to get your morning cup for your ride to work.

Most people drink coffee because they have acquired a taste for it. That process undoubtedly was fostered by pleasant social events and coffee's ability to brighten the morning, lift the spirits, make one more attentive and focused, and increase endurance at various tasks and activities.

Heavy coffee drinkers probably are drinking it for the “buzz”. While other beverages and foods also deliver caffeine, coffee is the bullet train for caffeine delivery.

For example, eight ounces of brewed coffee averagely contain 135 milligrams of caffeine vs. an similar amount of tea containing only 40 to 70 mg. The exception is energy drinks, some of which are designed primarily as caffeine vehicles.

With all this coffee (and caffeine) being consumed there is a fair amount of public angst concerning its effects. For years, caffeine was accused of being addictive, contributing to vascular problems and osteoporosis. As with many things that are pleasurable, there is a Puritan tendency to assume it must be bad for us.

The latest evidence, however suggests that coffee/caffeine has significant benefits if consumed with some moderation:

  • Coffee may lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. To be fair, however, existing diabetics will see a rise in blood sugar from caffeine.

  • Evidence of a link between cancer and coffee has been disproved; to the contrary, caffeine has been traced to lowering the risk of colon cancer and cancer of the mouth and throat.

  • If you drink coffee over a long period, you appear to have no greater risk of heart disease. It appears that it may actually lower your risk.

  • Drinking coffee in moderation may deter or defer Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Generally, the caffeine in coffee (and to a lesser degree, in tea) can assist in weight control. It speeds your metabolism and increases your burn-rate of calories.

  • As a diuretic, coffee also can enhance regularity.

  • It also can act as a mild pain reliever. Caffeine is an ingredient in many pain relievers. For a minor headache, a cup of coffee may provide relief.

  • Caffeine is credited with enhancing one’s ability to think clearly, increasing concentration and improving short-term memory. Of course, it’s obvious that coffee has a stimulating effect, as evidenced by the fact that millions of people use it to start their day, boost performance and fight off drowsiness.

  • While it appears to be possible to develop a habit of dependency on coffee, researchers have not been able to prove a pattern of addiction, either in use or withdrawal.
From other evidence:
  • It appears that caffeine lowers bone density, can increase the risk of miscarriage among pregnant women, and the risk of babies with low birth weight, and can raise the bad kind of cholesterol.

  • If you suffer from hypertension, you should be cautious of caffeine’s tendency to raise blood pressure.

  • What about coffee and caffeine’s effect on sleep habits? It appears to be an individual thing. Some people drink coffee to wake up and be alert. Others drink it to relax. It depends on what you are used to.

In summary, coffee is not all bad and not all good for you. If you enjoy it, don’t worry about it. As with everything, however, moderation makes sense.

I hope you enjoyed this article, which is one I occasionally offer on subjects of general interest. To sign up to receive this free blog, simply click on one of the RSS feed buttons on the lower right-hand side of this page. For matters of more specific application to plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery, please visit my web site. Thank you.

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