Quite a few years ago, while visiting friends who drink decaf coffee, I had an unusual headache—like little needles stinging right behind my forehead. It didn’t occur to me till after we got home and on regular coffee just what I experienced—I was addicted to caffeine!
Years before, I’d noticed if I had a cup of coffee about two PM with the residents at the nursing home where I worked, along with something sweet, I would get weak, sweaty, shaky, thirsty and hungry about four or four thirty that afternoon.
Years after that I read an article that coffee might help prevent Diabetes Type 2 (Non-insulin dependent Diabetes) as it makes your body more sensitive to insulin. Aah-ha, I thought. Now I know what was happening, I was having a low blood sugar reaction to the sugar high causing an increase in insulin which was more efficient because of the added coffee!
While line-dancing at our Senior Center, the activity director who knew I was a nurse came rushing over to me, asking if I’d come look at a gentleman who passed out while starting to eat lunch. Luckily, when I reached him, he had regained consciousness. Questioning revealed he was diabetic but “never” had passed out like that. More questioning revealed he’d had a carbohydrate breakfast, and drank more coffee than usual that AM while playing pool at the center, further decreasing his blood sugar.
I explained the relationship between coffee, insulin sensitivity and carbohydrates. He hadn’t heard of that before.
In researching coffee—which I love a cup or two of each day—I found plenty of reason to drink it! As I copied information off the internet, I soon had 13 pages, single spaced!
Apparently the average American downed 416 8-ounce cups of coffee in 2009 (by the World Resources Institute's estimates). According to www.statisticbrain.com, 54% of Americans over 18 drink coffee every day. There are 100 million daily coffee drinkers with 30 million drinking specialty coffees such as latte’s etc. And 60 % of those coffee drinkers add cream or sugar.
In our house growing up, we had coffee at every meal, not for the children though. Dad always added cream and often poured it into a bowl to cool and drink it from there. I believe that is an old German custom; my dad has half German and half Norwegian. We added sugar only in the form of sugar lumps, which were delicately dipped into the coffee and the coffee sucked from the lump before it disintegrated. I still enjoy that, but don’t enjoy sugar in my coffee—unless it’s a mocha moolatte from Dairy Queen!
It seems coffee has been linked to less heart arrhythmias, (not what I taught in cardiology to patients), colon cancer and liver cirrhosis in several studies I found. While some cautioned that the antioxidants found in coffee may not be of benefit, all seemed to acknowledge there are antioxidants present.
Of more than 193,000 people, those who said they drank more than six or seven cups daily were 35% less likely to have type 2 diabetes than people who drank fewer than two cups daily. There was a 28% lower risk for people who drank 4-6 cups a day, says Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.
A study showed a 20% lower stroke risk in nurses who drank 2-3 cups of coffee a day over those who drank less or none at all. A 2006 Harvard Newsletter reported coffee helped protect against Parkinson’s in men, but not women. Unfiltered coffee has two substances that raise cholesterol.
So, even though drinking too much gives me heartburn, (something I do while camping—what’s a good campfire and s’mores without coffee?), I guess I’ll stick with my cuppa joe. Any coffee drinkers out there?