Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Coffee: Good!
Written by: Beck

An LA Times article from last week reports that coffee is both good for you in many ways not originally suspected and not bad for you in many ways long believed. Considering the amount of coffee I suck down on an ordinary day, this is good news to say the least.

Coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer from kidney stones, Parkinson's disease, and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, coffee is an excellent source of antioxidants. And while tea shares many of the same benefits, it seems there are certain helpful chemicals which are unique to coffee.
Caffeine has received most of the research attention, but it is only one of hundreds of substances found in coffee," says coffee chemist Tomas de Paulis, a researcher at Vanderbilt University's Institute for Coffee Studies, which receives funding from coffee manufacturers.

He and his colleagues are investigating substances in coffee called quinides, which increase the capacity of the liver to use glucose. That, in theory, should improve blood sugar control in diabetics. Unlike caffeine, these substances may be unique to coffee, created during the process of roasting coffee beans.
Also, decaf seems to be mostly worthless, an opinion I've long held though not necessarily for the same reasons. Another interesting point is raised in the article, namely that for a long time, coffee was thought to be a net negative.
In the 1970s and 1980s, coffee was blamed for a variety of ills, from high blood pressure to cancer. "The focus of early research was almost always on finding fault," says Harvard Medical School epidemiologist Alan Leviton. "People tended to think of coffee as a vice, so the bias was that there had to be something wrong with it."
I think this attitude says something important about our culture. The natural inclination is to seek out negatives in things we enjoy rather than identifying positives--wherever they may crop up. This mentality has much in common with the force behind the rise of the nanny state that wants to control every aspect of our lives from seat belt wearing to fast food consumption. Examples abound. Take for instance, Time Magazine's special report on obesity. They title it "The Obesity Crisis." It's not a crisis. It's a part of life which goes hand in hand with economic success. Get over it. Fine, fine, so I've completely derailed. I'll get back on topic.

There are still some negatives associated with coffee, so it's only fair to mention them.
A few worries persist. Caffeine can aggravate arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, so cardiologists sometimes advise people with such conditions to switch to decaf. Insomnia sufferers are also typically advised to give up caffeinated coffee, especially late in the day and evening [ed: Well no shit Sherlock]. Because caffeine can make its way into breast milk, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that nursing mothers drink decaf coffee or other non-caffeinated beverages.

Caffeine in coffee also raises blood pressure temporarily, so people with hypertension might do well to avoid it. But several extensive studies have shown that coffee drinkers are no more likely than nondrinkers to suffer chronic high blood pressure--evidence that coffee doesn't cause hypertension.
(H/T: Vice Squad)

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John Beck

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