Debate brews on about pros and cons of coffee drinking

Counted among the most consumed beverages in the world, coffee first saw mass consumption in the Muslim world.

KUALA LUMPUR: Coffee has certainly come a long way from being a bitter drink exclusive to the Muslim world.

With over three billion cups of coffee drunk per day on average, coffee is now one of the world’s most popular beverages, and its consumption increases by the day.

Behind its rise in popularity is just how powerful it is in boosting one’s energy in preparation for the long day ahead.

Coffee not only re-energises, but also improves your mental capabilities.

According to Dr James Liew Yen Yee, an expert from IMU Healthcare, caffeine stimulants are considered to be the most widely consumed substance in the world.

“After you drink coffee, caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream. From there, it is transmitted to the brain,” said Liew during a presentation on “Coffee and its physiologic effects: What you ought to know”, at Bukit Jalil recently.

“In the brain, caffeine inhibits adenosine (an inhibitory neurotransmitter). When this happens, levels of other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine rise and this leads to increased neuron activity.”

Dr James Liew, an expert from International Medical Healthcare, giving a talk on ‘Coffee and its physiologic effects: What you ought to know’.

According to him, many studies have been conducted on humans to understand the effect of coffee consumption on brain function.

It was found that caffeine affects one’s memory, mood, energy level, reaction time and cognitive function; coffee is indeed a good drink to start one’s day.

Nevertheless, the benefits the drink offers depend on the body of the individual consuming it.

“Some people get dizzy; others can’t drink coffee at all. Not all bodies are the same, but if you can drink it, you can carry on as usual,” he added.

However, coffee consumption is a strict no-no for some, especially menopausal women who are undergoing hormonal therapy.

Inversely, high coffee intake is associated with lower bone density and increased risk of osteoporosis.

“However, for menopausal women undergoing hormonal therapy, you must stop any intake of caffeinated drinks as it will affect your body,” he explained.

Caffeine increases the risk of Parkinson disease for women on postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy.

Apparently, in some places like California in the US, coffee is labelled as a cause of cancer.

“California has a liberal court, and they will label any drink that can have a negative impact, even if it is a 0.001% chance of that happening. And they will make suggestions of what drinks can be consumed.”

According to James, caffeine has numerous health effects and can be found in beverages other than coffee.

“It’s different with Malaysia, because the fact is that as long as you can live a healthy lifestyle, coffee will not be a killer or the cause of any conditions,” he said.

Clarifying, James said that to avoid any complications, no more than 400 mg of coffee should be consumed daily, measuring only three to four cups per day.

It should be noted however that it’s not only coffee that contains caffeine.

“There is also caffeine in carbonated drinks. 35 mg in Coca Cola, 54 mg in Mountain Dew, 36 to 38 mg in Pepsi, 80 mg in Red Bull.”

“Ice cream also contains caffeine. Starbucks’ coffee ice-cream contains 60 mg of caffeine, Haagen-Dazs’ ice-cream and yoghurt has 58 mg,” he said.

Tea contains caffeine, with Arizona Iced Tea, Arizona Iced Green Tea and Nestea containing between 15 to 32 mg of caffeine, Liew said, quoting information from Uptodate.com.

In this regard, James said it is advisable for individuals not to take coffee and carbonated drinks at the same time because if the dose is excessive, there may be consequences.