Monday 7 October 2019

Marla Ahlgrimm: How Does Coffee Affect Health?

Marla Ahlgrimm
Throughout the ages, coffee has been both lauded and lamented for its perceived benefits and risks. According to Marla Ahlgrimm, coffee, like most everything else, is best consumed in moderation. The retired pharmacist and author explains that high doses of caffeine, the pep-you-up chemical found in your favorite warm brew, may actually damage the neuroendocrine system.

The neuroendocrine system, Marla Ahlgrimm explains, is a series of internal processes that make up the immune, endocrine, and nervous system. Long-term, over-exposure to caffeine can force the neuroendocrine system off balance. An excess of coffee or energy drinks can cause stress on the body, which, in turn, tells the brain to release cortisol.

That is not to say that coffee is completely bad, as, in small doses, it does have some subjective benefits. Marla Ahlgrimm explains that one cup of coffee in the morning can serve as both a physical and emotional boost. Caffeine alters the effect of serotonin receptors, which can result in an elevated mood. Further, caffeine suppresses the release of GABA, a hormone that triggers sleepiness. This is partially why people feel so alert after a latte.

Another potential benefit of moderate caffeine consumption is that it acts on the brain in many of the same ways as antidepressant medications. Marla Ahlgrimm cautions, however, that coffee is not a substitute for medical care for people suffering from depression.

On the downside, people with anemia may want to steer clear of coffee. Chemicals in the coffee bean may restrict iron absorption. Further, people who are sensitive to caffeine may have difficulty filtering it out of their system. This can result in jitters and an elevated heart rate for an hour or more after consumption.

The bottom line, asserts Marla Ahlgrimm, is that most healthy people can safely drink one or two cups of coffee each day. But, those who experience adverse effects or have pre-existing health conditions should consult with their primary healthcare provider and consider switching to decaf if they simply cannot skip the morning cup of Joe.


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