Most people like waking up every morning to the sight and smell of freshly-brewed coffee. In fact, earlier this year when Lavazza, the Italian brand, conducted a survey ‘Brewing Conversations’ on Indian millennials, it found that over 50 per cent of respondents opted for a cup of coffee as the first meal of the day. A whopping 94 per cent of the population prefers coffee during an interview, or in a client meeting. Coffee is also seen as a beverage to bond as 50 per cent of the respondents prefer to grab a cup of coffee when they catch up with friends after work.
“The active compound that lends the drink its potency is caffeine. It keeps us well-stimulated, on-the-go, and energetic. And not just coffee, caffeine is present in numerous other drinks and concoctions such as tea, chocolate, cola-based soft drinks, energy drinks, and even some medicines,” says nutritionist Mugdha Pradhan, Founder, Thrive FNC.
Coffee has its own set of advantages and disadvantages depending upon their usage. For some it induces a warm feel-good vibe and in fact, also helps us sharpen our focus and alertness span. While, if you consume it a lot it can also cause frequent urination and accelerated heartbeat while also inhibiting our ability to sleep if consumed past evening hours.
Here is how caffeine affects the various parts of our body
“Caffeine primarily stimulates the central nervous system in our body which directly affects the neurotransmitters in the brain — The basic effects include sleeplessness and heightened awareness levels for an acute duration as caffeine directly engages with the sleep-inducing molecule adenosine and latches itself onto the adenosine receptors in the brain to cause alertness and sleep inhibition” explains the nutritionist.
Caffeine not only affects the sleep cycle but also heavily affects the endocrine system in our body. It is responsible for stimulating the adrenal gland that produces adrenaline in the blood by releasing glucose reservoirs, pacing up the heartbeat, and shooting cortisol levels,
“As this process releases glucose stores in the body, caffeine causes high sugar level which further increases insulin level. The rise in insulin causes a fall in the body’s sugar level which leads to mood slumps and pangs of lethargy” mentions Pradhan.
This often takes a substantial toll on the body as people cannot help themselves from reaching out for another cup of coffee on account of the metabolism boost that he or she needs — This vicious cycle jeopardises the delicate blood sugar levels in the body.
“In accordance with the stress response activated by caffeine, energy and focus are diverted from the digestive system of the body. As the body often identifies caffeine as a toxin, the body attempts to eliminate the toxin via bowel movement” says Pradhan.
Additionally, coffee beans when stored during processing can turn mouldy and infected with mycotoxins. Moreover, Coffee plantations are often sprayed with harmful pesticides like glyphosate, which is a known carcinogen and linked with major health disruptions.
Does coffee have more benefits or demerits?
“It is easy to conclude that regular consumption of caffeine entails more demerits than benefits. The disturbances in the blood sugar levels due to caffeine’s stress response can also result in weight gain, insulin resistance, substance dependency, and other lifestyle disorders” explains the nutritionist.
“It is important to know that caffeine belongs to the mild drugs category and can cause major dependency — Its characteristic withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, low energy level, inactiveness, muscle pain and irritability can be easily managed by regulating one’s blood sugar levels” further says Pradhan.
One can always replace coffee with meaningful healthy dishes to supplement its energy stimulation effects. Once one begins doing this they will gradually, notice their body shifting from the caffeine’s adrenaline response fuel system to more natural processes for energy conversion.
“Lastly, like all psychoactive substances — caffeine addiction too can be a perturbing issue. While drinking an occasional cup is harmless, depending on it wholly for everyday activity can be detrimental for the body” says Pradhan.