So, how much coffee is healthy? I have asked myself the question off and on and, that, mostly when I am on my fourth cup of the morning! I know the answer. For me, four cups of black coffee.
That said, I and coffee go back a long way and it has got nothing to do with asking the question, "How many coffees per day is healthy?" Let's find out.
You see, I started reading westerns - Zane Grey and Max Brand, Louis L'Amour - when very young and what struck me about them was that no matter who - from Sheriff to cowpuncher to gunslinger, storekeeper, and saloon girl - in the Wild-Wild West, everybody drank coffee and nobody asked, "How much?"
Keeps people awake
Come to think, the coffee that Sheriff Wyatt Earp and outlaw Jesse James drank by the gallons was so strong you could float a horseshoe in it! That's another thing you learn from reading westerns.
But to return to "how many coffees per day is healthy?" the answer is four cups of coffee made on a hot stove, which in terms of caffeine will be about 400 milligrams.
Caffeine, everybody will tell, keeps people awake. And the adrenaline going. That, too! It helps one stay focused and zeroed in on the task at hand.
A toxic brew to some, not all.
And while caffeine is available in many forms, caffeine from coffee is the one that's most frequently taken.
By the way, caffeine can be toxic. So, along with that cup of coffee must come loads of caution! A single teaspoon of caffeine powder will amount to not less than 28 coffee cups, brewed. That's too much. But then, nobody in his right mind will have 28 cups!
Too much coffee or caffeine poses health problems. And even if I haven't ever heard of a coffee or caffeine death, it does not mean too much coffee does not kill. Doctors in all the six continents have warned coffee drinkers that high levels of caffeine can kill, and have killed.
So keep in mind the question: "How much coffee per day is healthy?" Four cups! And not one cup after another cup. The US Food and Drug Administration has warned how bad overmuch caffeine can be. Never mind if it keeps you awake. At the end of the day, everyone likes a good night's sleep. Even a short nap!
No coffee breaks for children and the pregnant
And while on coffee, know that caffeine is not that very good for adolescents and those who have just stepped into adulthood. Too much caffeine is bad for both and that rules out children altogether.
To the young adults, a word of caution, don't ever mix caffeine with alcohol. Ditto narcotics. Life is not always a cup of coffee!
Pregnant women, especially, should keep count of the cups. Let not one cup more be the cup of woes. Breast-feeding mothers also ought to be Mum Cautious!
Getting the doctor to advise will be a good idea. But the general talk is that about 150 mg of caffeine will be safe and healthy, which brews two cups of coffee.
Most doctors will tell us that too many cups of coffee can leave an unpleasant taste. The side-effects can be adverse. Especially, in people on medications.
So, it all boils down to how do we limit coffee intake to four cups a day? Before that let's line-up the side-effects. And there are plenty: Insomnia. Headache. Fast heartbeat. Muscle tremors. Nervousness. Irritability and, worst of all, the urge to urinate once too often. Ugh!
But not all coffee buffs get these. There are some who are caffeine-sensitive and there are those who give caffeine a bad taste, so to speak. A regular coffee drinker obviously has the upper hand. That's been at least my firsthand experience.
By the way, restlessness is also part of the too much caffeine/coffee problem. And it's not grandma's tale that too much coffee disturbs sleep. Sleep deprivation is not good, for anyone. For those who need to be alert, it can spell disaster, like workplace problems.
Not with certain medications
This brings us to the one basic which is very important. Certain medications and caffeine don't go together. To the layman the medical terminologies trotted out may not mean anything. But reading about them will help.
Medications like ephedrine; theophylline and Echinacea. The last one is an herbal supplement. If you have a doctor in the family, he/she will explain. A pharmacist will be of even greater help. I have not one but two doctors in the family and both go for coffee!
Hey, what if the doctor tells you to cut down on caffeine; the cups of coffee? Too much coffee leads to loss of sleep. And it affects your performance at the workplace, what then?
Giving up symptoms
The obvious answer will be to do away with caffeine intake. There's a problem, though - a sudden dip in caffeine has its own set of side-effects. From headache to irritability; inability to focus and fatigue.
Don't lose heart and they will go away! But go slow on the withdrawal. Draw out the time between cups. Try decaf. Go herbal.
By the way, there are several coffee/caffeine studies. And the results and conclusions are not all the same when it comes to how many cups of coffee are healthy?
There are a number of studies that say that too much coffee can lead to dangerous cardiovascular issues. But even when you are digesting that, you will come across other studies that will tell you the exact opposite!
Studies on coffee, too many
My favorite coffee-question is: Does coffee cause cancer? The answer is a big Nada!. It's a non-question. No man in the Wild West westerns died of cancer caused by coffee.
But, and it's definite but, people are never tired of asking, "How many cups of coffee is healthy?" One much-quoted study states that "six eight ounce cups or more per day" is risky for the heart. Apparently, the study found the answer after examining over 349,000 coffee drinkers.
Another study concluded that coffee is bad for those over 55. Then again, yet another study, this one funded by the British Heart Foundation, says one can drink about 25 cups of coffee and live long with the habit. However, most studies say four cups of coffee is the answer to the question, "How many coffees per day is healthy?"