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International Coffee Day: The dark secrets of coffee revealed

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On International Coffee Day, Aishwarya Parameshwaran debunks some of the myths about the consumption of coffee and serves you truth with the help of experts’ advice

 Don’t we all just love that dark, strong coffee right after getting up in the morning? Since time unknown coffee has been our favourite beverage while we catch up with old friends or go for a date. Coffee has been a part of our daily routine. We just love sipping on it day and night and we cherish our love affair with our favourite drink. If you’re a coffee lover and favour espresso, lattes or cappuccinos; iced, decaf, instant or filter –International Coffee Day is the day to savour and appreciate your favourite beverage.

Over a period of time, people have become conscious about their health and diet. Often, we read news stories around what foods and drinks you should and shouldn’t be consuming, sometimes it becomes hard to analyse what’s true and what’s false. Well, here we’re to help you separate fact from fiction.


1 Coffee helps losing weight – Somewhat True

There exists a belief that coffee helps in increasing metabolism. Many find it an easy solution to lose weight without taking much effort. Niti Desai, consultant nutritionist says, “Coffee can be a part of a sensible weight loss and weight maintenance plan. It is not a magic bullet but there is some emerging evidence that coffee can help the weight loss efforts besides also being useful in lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and fatty liver. We are not suggesting that you need to rush to grab your cuppa, but coffee is not harmful as previously thought.”

2 Coffee aggravates menstrual cramps — Fact
Women who suffer terrible menstrual cramps are often advised to reduce their caffeine intake. Ever wondered the reason? Naturopathic nutritionist and author, Dhwani Shah says, “Coffee is a nerve stimulant, so when you drink coffee you feel energetic and fresh but within half an hour, your energy level drops. Ideally this sudden drop of energy level is very harmful because in the long run and it will be responsible for muscle contraction. Everything linked to body pain, headaches and menstrual cramps is a result of overdose of coffee. In India, people don’t usually prefer black coffee. Milk and coffee together weakens your nerves, which eventually aggravates menstrual cramps. I always advice women to avoid coffee and if you are addicted to it, you can opt for cold brew coffee, which is safer and has a lot of health benefits as well.”

3 Pregnant women should avoid coffee – Fact

When the pregnancy tests turn out to be positive, we do what’s best for the baby. We don’t hesitate to clean up every bit of our lives and make sure that the babies have a healthy start. Coffee is one of the items included in the not-to-do list by many women. Dr Gandhali Deorukhkar, consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician from Wockhardt Hospital, advises, “More than 200 mg of caffeine a day is linked to low birth weight babies and miscarriages. Consuming around eight cups or more can cause still born babies. Hence, decaffeinated coffee is advisable during pregnancy. According to the Mayo Clinic studies, there is 5 to 10 mg of caffeine in decaf coffee. So, decaffeinated coffee is advisable during pregnancy since it is safer.”

4 Coffee leads to acidity– Fact
Most of us are used to bed coffee and some are so dependent on coffee that they cannot start their day without sipping on it. “It is a general statement but for people who are already suffering from acid reflux or acidity, consuming even one cup of coffee can be troublesome. For a normal person, having maximum three cups of coffee a day is fine. But it is a fact that excess consumption of coffee can cause acidity. There is no definite amount that can be labelled as safe. Acidity is also triggered by the lifestyle one is leading and at what time you are grabbing your cup of coffee. Having coffee in moderate quantities (not more than two cups) can prove to be beneficial as they have antioxidant properties,” advises Dr Rakesh Patel, aastroenterologist at Fortis Hospital, Kalyan.

5 Coffee stunts growth—Mostly myth
There is no proven fact that consuming caffeine stunts growth but caffeine has proven to increase our energy levels by inhibiting adenosine. “In younger age groups, caffeine can leach calcium if taken along with meals. This can result in calcium deficiency. To avoid such deficiencies add half a cup of milk and maintain a gap of an hour or two between a meal and coffee consumption,” advises Saumya Shatakshi, senior nutritionist and wellness consultant, Healthians.

6 Drinking coffee reduces stress– Myth
People who work rigorously and who often work to meet the deadlines tend to consume more coffee but it’s a myth that coffee reduces stress and anxiety. Anastasia Dhedia, clinical psychologist – CEO and founder at Mind Mantra says, “When anyone comes to us with an anxiety problem or excessive stress, we ask them to avoid coffee. Because coffee is a stimulant, so when you consume coffee, the area of the brain that it hits causes stimulation and the neurochemicals that it releases are invariably related to the same neurochemical which are related to anxiety. If you are suffering from anxiety and when you have coffee, it’ll make you feel good for a very brief period of time because happy chemicals go up. After sometime, when these chemicals go down, you’ll automatically start feeling nervous and anxious. It is basically a vicious cycle. So if you’re absolutely living in no stress and anxietythen you a cup or two of coffee. If you’re under stress you should avoid coffee completely and it will affect counterproductively.”

7 Daytime consumption gives sleepless nights — Myth

Post lunch most of us rely on a cup of coffee to avoid drowsiness and feel fresh but there exists a belief that having coffee post lunch can cause insomnia. “Caffeine reduces fatigue and drowsiness.At normal doses,it generally improves reaction time, wakefulness and concentration. It is okay to take have a cup of coffee in afternoon to keep yourself awake and alert but coffee consumed six hours prior to sleep can interfere with sleep and can cause sleep disturbances,” advises Dr Akshay Chhallani, physician and intensivist, AkshJyot clinic, Vashi.

7 Things you didn’t know about coffee!

1.It is said that coffee was discovered by accident in 9th-century Ethiopian goat herder, when he noticed how crazy the beans were making his goats.

2.The lethal dose of caffeine is roughly 100 cups of coffee.

 3.The French philosopher Voltaire is said to have drank 50 cups of coffee a day. Because he ruled.

4.Espresso is regulated by the Italian government because it is considered an essential part of their daily life

5.Coffee is actually a fruit. The beans are the pit of a berry, which makes them a fruit.

6.Coffee is the second most traded commodity on earth. According to the Global Exchange, there are approximately 25 million farmers in over 50 countries involved in producing coffee.

7.The world’s most expensive coffee is $600 a pound, whichcomes from the faeces of a Sumatran wild cat. An animal called Luwak, is unable to digest coffee beans. In the process of digesting the beans, they are fermented in the stomach. When the beans are excreted, they produce a smooth, chocolaty coffee.