My first encounter with black coffee was during high school final exams, for which I woke up at 4 am to finish up studies. Every desi kid and parents out there know how "life-defining" these exams are for their kids future - I do not believe it. What you do every day for the rest of your life defines and shapes your life.
During my tenth grade, my mum was kind enough to whip coffee and some sugar in a small cup and keep it in the refrigerator, to which I added hot milk early morning. Pheta hua coffee took the internet by the storm as Dalgona coffee amidst the pandemic.
I consumed straight-up cups of coffee (black) during engineering days to stay up the night and clear my exams. When I flew out of my mother's wing emotionally and mentally, my lack of time management skills and seriousness towards academics peeked its ugly head - I learnt it the hard way, but I managed it. And do not need cups of coffee to stay awake anymore.
It's 2021 now, and I have found the key to staying sane, balanced, managing time, and not feeling burdened by life's daily pressures. Coffee helps at times.
I have an unsaid loving relationship with coffee which I did not realise until I started this blog. I came across it for the first time at the age of 15. Fourteen years later, it's still around. I do not seek it, nor does this lover call me out. It's a healthy relationship where we are there for each other when required. It's not the toxic, addictive kind.
For 14 years of knowing each other, the soul has stayed intact, but this lovers personality has changed depending upon the situation and environment. It is one of the most adaptable and adjusting lovers I've witnessed. Let me tell you how.
When I moved to the states, milk coffee, black coffee during my high school and undergrad turned to cold coffee. Once I settled into the American way of life, my morning ritual was delicious frothy cold coffee - something I picked up from my daily coffee drinker flatmate. A busy schedule called for a quick swirling of milk, coffee and some sweetener to go with a fresh avocado toast. At times just some iced coffee latte and everything bagel from the food trucks available at the University would do the trick for breakfast. Coffee consumption prepared me for the day ahead filled with assignments, pre-reading for classes, student job and a part-time internship.
Coffee and I went on a break from May 2017 to March 2018 because we no longer needed each other. This love affair started again in April 2018 during my first job in Mumbai. Most mornings, I drank sugarless hot coffee from the coffee machine that set the tone right for the day (sometimes black, sometimes with milk). I do not indulge in coffee after 3 pm because the love is too intense for my brain to handle, and as they say, you lose your sleep when you're in love. I lose my sleep if I indulge in coffee after the stated time.
I have two favourite ways of consuming coffee. One is filter coffee, something I discovered at our south Indian family friends house. And the second is at this famous legendary cafe located right at the start of Colaba causeway in Mumbai. Both of them have a balmy effect on my mind. It is healing, relaxing and the torchbearer of good times.
Including few cups of coffee during the week has the following health benefits:
King of Antioxidants
Black Coffee is rich in antioxidants, and many cultures across the globe consider it one of the primary sources of antioxidants. It contains high magnesium levels, caffeine, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, B5, manganese and potassium. And these nutrients are known to lower risks of cancer, diabetes and heart diseases.
Diabetes management - Type 2 diabetes
Consuming black coffee prepared from high-quality coffee beans may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. This metabolic disorder mainly affects adults, and in some cases, it leads to organ damage at a later stage. Decaf also helps in controlling blood glucose level. Please do not consume commercially available cold coffee with whipped cream, excess sugars, sweetened syrups etc., for disease management and diabetes prevention.
Cardiovascular disease prevention
Drinking caffeinated drinks or black coffee does increase your blood pressure slightly, but the effects fade away over time. However, Consuming a couple of cups of black coffee helps maintain your cardiovascular health and decreases chances of stroke and lower inflammation in your body.
In today's world, cancer is becoming one of the silent and fastest killers. The compound available in coffee helps prevent various types of cancer, such as breast, colorectal, and liver cancer. Coffee reduces inflammation, and it is one of the main reasons behind tumour development.
Workout and Weight loss
The most significant benefit of black coffee is that it improves your physical performance and gives you 100 per cent during your workouts. If you have ever had your gym trainer ask you to have a shot of black coffee before a workout session, now you know why. It directly works on your Epinephrine (adrenaline) blood levels, preparing the body for intense physical exertion. Black Coffee helps break down stored body fat and release fat cells into your bloodstream in free fatty acids. Your body uses free fatty acids as fuel for intense physical activity.
Black Coffee helps in quick weight loss by enhancing your workout capability. It increases your metabolism by 50% because it is a fat-burning beverage.
Effects on the Nervous system
Ageing leads to decreased cognitive skills and a higher risk of Dementia, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Having black coffee in the morning enhances brain function, indirectly affects neurotransmitter and helps the brain stay active. It also keeps the neurons active, which in turn may keep dementia at bay. Various studies suggest caffeine consumption reduces the risk of Alzheimer's and the risk of Parkinson's by 60%.
Keeps you happy
Drinking a well-made cup of coffee lifts your spirit, thus improving your overall mood. To overcome general feelings of sadness and increase your energy levels, including 1-2 cups of black coffee every day helps you feel good.
Decreases stress and depression
Last year was difficult for many people working from home (trying to save their jobs), businesses shutting down, layoffs which caused stress and havoc in everyone's life. I know folks who were exploited and working extra hours to keep their jobs.
Excess work pressure and mental tension lead to stress, depressive and irritable moods for some people. But drinking a cup of black coffee or coffee enhances your mood and general well being instantly making the world around a better place.
Coffee is known to stimulate the central nervous system, increase dopamine production (an instant reward chemical) and balance serotonin. These are essential neurotransmitters in our body that elevate mood. However, if you are suffering from clinical depression, please do not substitute coffee for your prescribed medicines (if any).
Benefits on Liver
The liver is one of the essential organs in our body because of its various crucial functions. Consuming black coffee helps prevent liver cancer, hepatitis, fatty liver disease and alcoholic cirrhosis. Anyone who drinks three or more cups of black coffee daily has an 80% lower liver disease chance. Black Coffee helps lower harmful liver enzymes in your blood.
Parkinson's Disease prevention
Parkinson's disease affects older adults, and their symptoms are muscle stiffness, shaking, speech changes, and walking. Research studies show that the caffeine present in black coffee is responsible for lowering the risk of Parkinson's disease. It may prevent Parkinson by boosting dopamine level in your brain. However, according to a different study, it may not have much efficacy if you are on estrogen hormone therapy.
Drinking black coffee without any sweetener or sugar keeps your mind and body young. It also helps boosts dopamine levels in your body that prevent various neurological issues.
As per research studies, people who drink more than 4 cups of black coffee have a 57% lesser chance of developing gout. Coffee is an antioxidant powerhouse, and it reduces the risk of gout by lowering insulin levels and uric acid in your body. Even if you are suffering from gout, it helps relieve symptoms.
Diuretic beverages such as coffee make you want to urinate often. Hence, when you consume black coffee without sugar, various toxins and bacteria flush out quickly in the form of urine. It helps maintain your tummy balance.
I've grown up on the life mantra that too much of anything is harmful to one's body and mind. You may consume or indulge in anything in moderation; it enhances your quality of life and overall well-being and brings external happiness. But being addicted to anything, be it things, food items, or drinks, impacts your life to an extent where one does not know how to stay happy without it. It proves to be detrimental to an area where one cannot function daily until introducing it in your system.
The same goes for coffee. In controlled amounts and proper consumption, it has immense benefits. But if indulged too much, it has similar side effects such as:
Excessive amounts of coffee can lead to anxiety and stress. Introducing too much coffee into your system make you feel jittery, and it is a common side effect. Hence children are not given coffee to drink.
Too much coffee messes with your sleeping cycle. Thus it is recommended to not consume coffee or black coffee a few hours before sleeping. I know some people can manage, and it does not affect them at all. For example, one of my ex-flatmate drank coffee right before sleeping. She did sleep well too. But I would consider her an anomaly.
Consuming too much or on an empty stomach may lead to acidity, stomach cramps, and spasms.
Too much coffee in the body makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients such as iron, calcium and zinc from your diet.
Authored by: Padmaja Rai
About the Author: Padmaja is a healthcare consultant and avid fitness enthusiast. She holds a masters' in bio-innovation and rare diseases from University of Pennsylvania. She is a firm believer in ancient Indian holistic healing.