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Monday, July 17, 2006

Do You Want Sugar and Cream With That Gas?

The best part of waking up, is grooooooaaaannn—gas in your intestines? It may be, if you’re a java-loving junkie—and a lot of Americans are. Indeed, coffee is one of America’s favorite drinks.

Still, it’s no secret that coffee has taken the blame for problems ranging from stomach upset, gas, heartburn, and jitters, to cardiovascular disease and pancreatic cancer. But recent press asserts that coffee is good for you. So what’s the rub?

High-quality coffee offers some health benefits. Poor-quality coffee has some significant consequences. First the bad news. The reason that many coffees (those of poor quality) have that bitter, charcoal-like taste is because they’re burned during the mass production process.

When coffee beans are burned, the ‘aromatic oils’ are oxidized, which cancels out the healthful, cancer-fighting antioxidants. The result: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). They damage cell membranes, cause cancer, and contribute to digestive upset.

But don’t dump that cup of joe just yet. Good quality coffee is slow-roasted, so the beans don’t burn. This in turn prevents oxidation of the wonderful fatty acids, and preserves the antioxidants.

Other health benefits of coffee that studies have recently found include lowered risk of diabetes, liver cancer, colon cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. But what about caffeine?

Caffeine is really only harmful to people who already are in poor health. It overburdens their systems and causes various health problems, including heart disease, insomnia, chronic muscle tension, and nervousness.

If you’re in good health, and lead an active and healthy lifestyle, the amount of caffeine in a couple of cups of coffee shouldn’t cause your health to crumble anytime soon.

The upshot: If you’re in good health, it’s OK to drink high-quality coffee. If your health is in a funk, refrain from drinking any coffee, good or bad, but more importantly, read some more of my posts about eating healthy, probiotic foods.

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