Many have said that our country runs on coffee. Some might also say we're addicted to caffeine and the energy it provides. Caffeine is a highly addictive compound that many people have come to depend on for the perception of increased energy. Caffeine operates by preventing the chemical adenosine from telling the brain it's time to relax. The result is a surge of unnatural energy; but, over time, the brain becomes accustomed to the threshold and requires more caffeine to provide the same alertness.
The Benefits to Drinking Coffee
Organic, high-quality coffee has been shown to provide some health benefits.
- Organic Coffee is full of antioxidants which help reduce oxidation, cell damage, and aging.
- Studies from Saaksjarvi et. al show that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson's Disease. 
- Other studies show that coffee consumption may protect us against type 2 diabetes. 
- There is a small amount of evidence that coffee may also protect us against cirrhosis of the liver, gallstones, kidney stones. 
- Caffeine is a stimulate. Drinking coffee has been shown to increase mental attention in the short term. Some have even suggested that by drinking coffee, we can better cognitive function. 
- Some studies show that habitual coffee drinking may protect us against developing Alzheimer's disease later in life.   
The Dangers of Drinking Coffee
Coffee is not without potential adverse effects:
- There is controversial evidence linking coffee consumption to heart diseases. Some studies state, "consumption is associated with significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease." These same studies have shown a cholesterol-raising effect in some of the chemical compounds of coffee, such as determines, cafestol, kahweol and plasma homocysteine. This may be offset by some of the antioxidants, but the overall agreement is that coffee may adversely affect the heart.  
- Coffee disturbs the functioning of blood vessels, both in turgidity and tone. 
- Coffee affects the nervous system, heart rhythms, and has been linked to irregular heartbeat. It may also adversely affect blood pressure. 
- Coffee drinking should be heavily avoided by people at risk, or who have Osteoporosis. Studies show a link between drinking coffee and urinary calcium excretion.
- Many people report that coffee increases heartburn. 
- Coffee, particularly in the evening or at night, can lead to sleep disturbance. 
- Drinking coffee depletes water reserves in the body. 
- While the FDA recognizes caffeine as "safe," it is still a drug that alters the nervous system. 
- Some people experience withdrawal symptoms when don't have coffee. This can lead to headaches, irritability, body aches, and other more extreme symptoms.  
Does Coffee Have A Laxative Effect?
Caffeine can dehydrate the body and interfere with digestion. Caffeine also interferes with the absorption of magnesium, which is critical in maintaining regular, healthy bowel movements. Coffee stimulates the digestive system and can induce a temporary laxative effect, causing the bowels to expel waste before they have the chance to process and utilize vital water and nutrients.
Coffee's acidic properties may lead to an overproduction of stomach acid that can irritate the intestines. Ironically, decaffeinated coffee has been shown to trigger even more acid production than regular coffee. Over-production combined with coffee's laxative effects can cause too much stomach acid to move into the intestines.
What About Coffee Substitutes?
Grain coffee is to coffee as herbal tea is to tea, and grain coffee is naturally caffeine and toxin free. Grain coffee is a ground mixture of grains, nuts, and dried fruit and provides only natural flavors. Grain coffee is available in regular drip coffee-maker and instant brands.
These coffee substitutes come in a variety of flavors and can be used with regular coffee. If you normally use 4 scoops of ground coffee, then try 3 scoops of coffee with 1 scoop of grain coffee for the first week. Continue to transition gradually until you have eliminated your consumption of regular coffee altogether.
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†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.