A few years from now, I’m sure someone, somewhere, will release a study showing that coffee is bad for you.
However, given my personal java journey, I could only cheer when I read the news recently in Time magazine about the strong case for its health benefits.
The story cited recent studies showing regular coffee drinkers have a lower risk of diabetes, fewer strokes and heart problems, and lower rates of certain cancers.
On top of that, coffee drinkers tend to live longer.
Equal Opportunity Beverage
The interesting wrinkle about two studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine was that researchers who studied the coffee drinking habits of 700,000 folks in the U.S. and Europe made sure to examine death rates among non-white populations.
In the U.S. study, it wasn’t just whites who drank at least four cups of coffee who had a lower risk (18 percent) of premature death. So did African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, and Latinos.
Even those who drank a single cup showed a 12 percent lower risk.
To that, I raise my cup and say, “Fill ‘er up!”
In early 2008, I went through double bypass surgery. Knowing I needed to make a concerted effort to get some weight off, afterwards I enrolled in a healthy lifestyle program at the hospital where I had my surgery.
It included a strict vegetarian lifestyle, to which I adjusted without too much difficulty. In fact, I permanently lost my taste for things like steak (which I used to consider the food of choice for kings), bacon, and prime rib.
I still eat veggie burgers, faux chicken burgers, and a fair amount of beans for protein. But two years after completing the program, I had to resume eating fish and chicken because of my rather anemic condition.
Since then, I’ve edited several books by doctors who emphasized the health benefits of fish and lean meat. I no longer consider a pure vegetarian routine the healthiest option available.
Aside from the meat/no meat debate, the other change I made—the one that I struggled with mightily—was giving up caffeine.
The folks monitoring our food diaries wanted us to stop drinking coffee immediately.
I insisted that would be impossible.
Instead, I stepped down from two cups a day to two cups one day and one the next. Then one per day for a week. Then I went to one cup every other day. I finally (grudgingly) went caffeine-free.
Since a well-known heart doctor designed the program, who was I to argue with his theory that caffeine tended to make the heart beat faster and was bad for our health?
For two years, I followed the “no coffee” routine, even though I never particularly liked feeling like I didn’t wake up before noon. I just got used to it.
Jolt that Refreshes
That all changed the week I hit the wall. I was (pardon the pun) booked to the hilt with work, and had a special class to attend in the evenings.
Feeling so worn out I felt like I might wreck the car on the long drive there, each afternoon I would hop in the shower to refresh myself, followed by a cup of coffee. Then I would grab another for the road.
That Friday, I flew to Long Island to spend three days working with an author on the outline and material for his book.
Had it not been for coffee’s sustaining power, I never would have made it through those meetings.
When I returned home, I resumed daily coffee drinking. I even checked with my primary care doctor and cardiologist to make sure they okayed my renewed intake.
That was seven years ago. I’ve never quit again. Some things are worth keeping, no matter what a doctor says. Besides, others are saying coffee is fine. I agree.