The American Psychiatric Association (APA) recently released their latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). I have issues with several of the classifications in this manual; however, one this go-around is particularly irksome.
They are now calling caffeine withdrawal and intoxication mental illnesses. Granted, habitual coffee drinkers who skip their morning cuppa may feel a little headachy or sluggish and too much caffeine can cause unpleasant, jittery side effects; but this time the APA has gone too far.
I’ve written about the health benefits of coffee and caffeine too many times to count and I stand strongly behind the many health benefits. Here’s a recap of why you shouldn’t hesitate to drink up.
- Caffeine amplifies the energizing effects of dopamine and other neurotransmitters letting your brain’s natural stimulants wake you up and increase your concentration and focus.
- Caffeine is protective against neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- One study revealed that people who drank four or more cups of coffee per day had a 20 percent reduced risk of developing clinical depression.
- Coffee is chock-full of polyphenols, antioxidants, fiber, and several other beneficial compounds. One important polyphenol—chlorogenic acid—slows the absorption of glucose in the intestines.
- Coffee curbs appetite and facilitates fat burning in the liver, thus preventing obesity—the number-one risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
- A high coffee intake reduces the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease—another common condition found in people with obesity and diabetes.
- Antioxidants and other compounds in coffee have positive effects on inflammation, platelet aggregation, blood flow, and blood clot formation.
- Studies demonstrate that moderate caffeine consumption reduces risk of stroke.
- At an optimal level of four cups per day, coffee protects against heart failure.
- Caffeine improves endurance and athletic performance.
- Caffeine reduces risk of gout and gallstones.
- Caffeine can relieve headaches and strengthen the efficacy of pain medications.
- Caffeine helps prevent constipation.
- And contrary to claims linking caffeine and coffee to dehydration, coffee actually improves hydration.
Drink Coffee, Live Longer
If you’re still not convinced, here’s one more powerful reason to imbibe: Coffee may help you live longer.
In a May 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, coffee consumption and death rates were examined in more than 400,000 men and women age 50 and older. After adjusting for smoking (coffee drinkers are more likely to smoke) and other confounding factors, they found that coffee—regular and decaf—reduced risk of death from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and even infections. Three or more cups per day conferred a 10–15 percent lower risk of death.
The bottom line: Drinking 3–6 cups of coffee per day is safe and beneficial for most people. Too much caffeine, however, makes some individuals jittery and can interfere with sleep. Experts recommend that pregnant women have no more than 200–300 mg of caffeine per day. (A cup of coffee contains 80–100 mg.)
Now it’s your turn: Which of these benefits are most appealing to you?