The History of Coffee: How Coffee Became Popular

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Since the introduction of coffee in Europe, many myths have been created about it, mainly due to the efforts of alcoholic beverage merchants, who saw, and not without reason, dangerous competitors in coffee merchants.

Apparently, from their supply to coffee, doctors took up arms, claiming that the Arabic drink causes paralysis, impotence, “blood burning” and terrible thinness (dryness of the body, thinness). In Germany, "bought" journalists wrote that coffee was soot syrup and a disgusting decoction of old boots.

In 1679, in an expert opinion on the properties of coffee prepared by Dr. Colombo, a scientist from the University of Marseille (France), it was said:

“In many, the burnt particles contained in the drink have such a powerful force that they destroy all the lymph and dry out the kidneys. They also threaten the brain, dehydrating it and drying up the gyrus. In addition, coffee opens all the pores of the human body and thus prevents the calming forces from ascending to the brain. As a result, coffee drinkers inevitably develop exhaustion, paralysis and impotence.”

Dealers in wine and beer also turned to the church. Having received good money, the clergy declared the use of "non-Christian drink" a deadly sin. The very first coffee houses were called "a bunch of conspirators and troublemakers." As you can see, every era has its myths.

The History of Coffee: How Coffee Became Popular

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Whether coffee is bad for health or not, people have always argued. One day, determined to put an end to such discussions, the Swedish king Gustav III (who ruled at the end of the 18th century) ordered a very curious experiment. Two twin brothers sentenced to death were chosen as the object of the experiment. Their sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, but they were given the condition that one of them would be given a large portion of coffee several times a day, and the other – tea. The rest of their living conditions were equally good. The health status of the twins was monitored by two professors. They all waited to see which of the prisoners would get sick and die first, in order to finally establish which of the drinks was more harmful – coffee or tea. But the twins were in no hurry to die. And it so happened that first one professor died, then another, and the king was killed, and both "testers" continued to calmly drink daily "lethal" doses of tea and coffee. The first to die at the age of 83 was the one who drank tea.

As you know, the Russian scientist Ilya Mechnikov seriously dealt with the problem of longevity. In one of his writings, he wrote about a man who drank up to 40 cups of coffee daily for a long time and lived to be 114 years old. Of course, coffee was not the reason for his longevity, and quite possibly, without consuming it in such huge quantities, he could have lived much longer. This fact also indicates that the harmfulness of coffee is often exaggerated.

But, perhaps, enough exotics. Let's talk about whether coffee is really as harmful as it is sometimes presented in popular literature on a healthy lifestyle (do not be surprised at the abundance of conflicting opinions below. This is understandable, given that individual reactions to coffee are extremely different, and from less than half of its approximately 2000 substances are known).

According to some doctors (and the opposite opinion will be given below), due to the fact that caffeine is a doping (drug), with the constant use of coffee, physical and mental dependence on this drink may appear.

With excessive use of coffee, you can simply “drive” your body, since coffee for it is not “oats”, but a “whip”. It is not recommended to drink coffee for people with coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, kidney disease, increased excitability, insomnia, hypertension and glaucoma. Older people and children should not drink coffee at all.

In the last century, the famous scientific journal New Scientist published the results of the largest study on the effect of coffee on the development of cardiovascular diseases. From 1968 to 1988, British researchers monitored 2000 male employees of an engineering firm. It turned out that those who consumed more than six cups of coffee a day were at risk of heart disease by 71% more than all other employees of this company.

Coffee contains a special kind of benzopyrene resin, which is quite harmful to the human body, the amount of which varies depending on the degree of coffee roasting. Therefore, lightly roasted coffee is preferred. Read our article about the degrees of coffee roasting "Choosing coffee to taste | Coffee roast levels".

The History of Coffee: How Coffee Became Popular
These are the cons. Now let's talk about the pros

Researchers note that coffee increases efficiency, relieves fatigue, and stimulates mental activity. All this is due to the caffeine contained in it, which improves the blood supply to such important organs as the brain, heart, kidneys, and, being a psychomotor stimulant, increases brain activity. Americans have found that coffee in small quantities improves spermatogenesis and potency in men.

In 1987, American scientists who followed 6000 heavy coffee drinkers over a number of years reported that it did not cause cardiovascular disease, as previously claimed. The same conclusions were made by Finnish doctors. They examined 17000 people who drank five or more cups of coffee a day.

The results of studies by Americans and Finns were also confirmed by Brazilian scientists who studied the effects of coffee on 45000 coffee drinkers.

According to other American scientists (according to the Journal of the American Medical Association), regular coffee consumption can significantly reduce the risk of gallstone disease. So, it has been noticed that in men who drink 2-3 cups of coffee a day, the risk of gallstone disease is reduced by 40%. Scientists have not yet reached a consensus on the cause of this effect, although they suggest that it is caused by exposure to caffeine.

Another group of American scientists who studied the effect of coffee on the nervous system came to the conclusion that coffee, which belongs to the category of stimulating drinks, has a noticeable antidepressant effect. It has been found that people who drink at least two cups of coffee a day are three times less likely to suffer from depression and are significantly less likely to commit suicide than those who never drink coffee.

And scientists at Vanderbilt University (USA) believe that coffee may be able to help people who suffer from depression, alcoholism and bowel cancer (the study showed that the risk of bowel cancer is reduced by 24% if you drink four or more cups of coffee a day).

The History of Coffee: How Coffee Became Popular

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In recent years, many benefits have been discovered in coffee that were not previously known. For example, it turns out that it alleviates asthma attacks and allergies, prevents caries and neoplasms, activates the burning of fats in the body, is a laxative, intensifies bowel function, replenishes the removal of potassium from the body. According to American scientists, those who drink coffee feel more confident, do not suffer from low self-esteem, and do not experience unreasonable fears. It is also very important that, like chocolate, caffeine increases the concentration of the hormone of happiness – serotonin.

Another interesting study was conducted by specialists from the University of Michigan (USA). They found that older married women who drink a cup of coffee every day are more sexually active compared to their peers who have long abandoned this drink.

The same study showed that in men, coffee helps to achieve and maintain an erection. Those of the middle-aged men surveyed who do not drink coffee complained of certain difficulties in this regard.

As noted by American scientists, the activation of sexual potency is promoted by the alkaloid caffeine, which is an effective stimulant that exacerbates the body's reaction to sensory stimuli.

However, skeptics say that the matter is not only and not so much in caffeine. It's just that sexually active older people are stronger and healthier than their peers, they have no problems with the heart and blood vessels. And because they can afford both coffee and sex.

The History of Coffee: How Coffee Became Popular

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Not so long ago, Professor Georges Debry, an employee of the Center for Nutrition at the University of Nancy (France), spoke in defense of this drink in Paris at a seminar on the impact of caffeine on health. The scientist emphasized that there is no evidence to suggest that coffee reduces the ability to bear children or causes malformation of the fetus. These accusations against coffee, explained Professor Debry, were based on a misinterpretation of the results of studies obtained by physicians who did not take into account, for example, that coffee consumption was accompanied by simultaneous and significant consumption of alcohol and tobacco. As for cancer, in particular pancreatic cancer, the authors of articles about the dangers of coffee, published in major international journals, themselves admitted their mistake. With moderate consumption, coffee reveals rather than causes any disturbances in the digestive system (heartburn, gastritis, etc.), although when consumed in large doses, it helps to remove calcium from the body and reduces the digestibility of food. Scientists believe that with reasonable consumption of coffee by healthy people, it does not serve as a predisposing factor either to a heart attack or to hypertension, and does not cause disturbances in the hormonal functions of the body.

Interesting data are also reported by scientists from India. They found that black coffee drinkers who were exposed to daily radiation at work suffered less radiation. Experiments carried out on laboratory animals have confirmed that high doses of caffeine serve as a prophylactic against radiation sickness. In this regard, Indian doctors recommend that radiologists, radiologists and other specialists who constantly work with radiation sources drink at least two cups of good coffee a day.

But Japanese doctors found that this drink helps in the fight against atherosclerosis, because it increases the content of benign cholesterol in human blood, which prevents the walls of blood vessels from hardening. To study the effect of coffee on the human body, a curious experiment was conducted at the Tokyo Jikei Medical Institute, during which volunteers drank five cups of black coffee daily for four weeks. Three of them could not stand it for a long time, began to complain about their “disgust” for coffee and eventually “left the distance”, and in the rest of the experiment participants, after four weeks, the content of benign cholesterol in the blood, which helps to maintain the elasticity of the walls of the blood vessels, increased by an average of 15%. vessels. It is curious that, after the participants in the experiment completely stopped drinking coffee, the content of this cholesterol began to decrease.

The coffee bean, as scientists have calculated, contains 30 organic acids that we need. It is believed that only thanks to one of these acids, the malnourished population of South America does not suffer from pellagra (a severe form of beriberi) – they drink a lot of coffee. Experts also note that a cup of coffee contains 20% of the daily requirement of vitamin P, which is necessary for blood vessels.

The History of Coffee: How Coffee Became Popular

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This drink relieves fatigue, gives energy. It is believed that a dose of caffeine in 100-300 milligrams per day improves attention, increases the speed of reaction, physical endurance. However, a dose above 400-600 milligrams per day (depending on the characteristics of the person) can cause increased nervousness, irritability.

Experts note that coffee is also useful for low blood pressure, with weak heart activity, with reduced stomach acidity.

According to other experts, only very high doses of caffeine can cause serious harm to health. So, a dose equal to about 10 grams – you can’t achieve it by drinking coffee alone – can be fatal.

But be that as it may, no matter how useful caffeine is, coffee is still best consumed in moderation, and natural nutrition experts believe that it is better to refuse it altogether or replace it with coffee drinks made from barley or chicory.

In ancient times, in the East, they said that the harmful effects of coffee on the heart can be mitigated by throwing a few stamens of saffron into it during cooking: it “gives both joy and vigor, it infuses strength into the members and renews our liver.”

In addition, some doctors advise: firstly, do not drink coffee on an empty stomach, but first eat something (in the East it was called “coffee bedding”), and secondly, it is undesirable to drink coffee after a heavy meal.

And now, having considered the main myth about the harmfulness of coffee, we propose to consider a number of other myths about this drink: