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I drink coffee, although I know many of you don't. But since coffee has been in the news lately, I decided to look into the subject. If you don't drink coffee, you can sign off now. For the rest of you, read on.

What is coffee? Coffee traces its origin to plants known as Coffea. Within that genus there are more than 6,000 species of tropical trees and shrubs; and botanists estimate there are anywhere from 25 to 100 species of coffee plants. Swedish botanist, Carolus Linneaus, first described Coffea Arabica in his Species Plantarum in 1753. In the commercial coffee industry, there are two important coffee species -- Arabica and Robusta. Your coffee is ground-up roasted seeds from a fruit which is called a coffee cherry. Over 70 countries produce coffee, but most coffee comes from Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Honduras.

What is caffeine? Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline purine -- a methylxanthine alkaloid related to adenine and guanine paired with cytosine. It is found in the seeds, nuts, or leaves of a number of plants native to Africa, East Asia and South America, and helps to protect them against predator insects. But caffeine is also found in many foods, including coffee cherries.

What happens when we drink coffee? Nerve cells are in high gear through most of the day, and the brain creates adenosine to keep us alert. But toward evening, adenosine receptors are released in the body which capture the adenosine. This causes brain activity to slow down which results in drowsiness, and also causes blood vessels in the brain to dilate letting more oxygen in during sleep.

What does caffeine do in us? When enough caffeine is ingested -- such as the typical 100 to 200 milligrams from a strong, eight-ounce cup of coffee -- it finds adenosine receptors. Acting like adenosine, caffeine is captured instead of adenosine; thereby, tricking your body into thinking that it's not yet time for sleep. This results in being more alert.

Myths abound about caffeine. Here are four of them.

1. Caffeine is addictive. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association added caffeine withdrawal to the list of recognized conditions in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, not all caffeine consumers have withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking in caffeine.

People who suddenly stop drinking coffee might experience symptoms in 12 to 24 hours after quitting and they peak after 20 to 48 hours before dissipating. But gradually reducing caffeine intake over a period of days does not trigger these symptoms. So, unlike other drugs, caffeine has not manifested itself in ways that are related to addiction. Therefore, caffeine is not considered an addictive substance.

2. Caffeine is a diuretic. Caffeine has been associated with a slight increased urinary volume and frequency. However, researchers haven't proven a significant difference in fluid loss between people who drink or don't drink coffee. Drinking a lot of milk, water, tea, and fruit juices also produce a heavier urinary volume.

One research team wrote: "Coffee, when consumed in moderation by caffeine habituated males, provides similar hydrating qualities to water. Additional water loss may occur if a person consumes more than 250 mg a day, but the fluid consumed with the drink is likely to make up for any loss." I've verified that in my own experience.

3. Coffee causes osteoporosis. Caffeine may affect the way the body absorbs calcium, and this has raised concerns that drinking coffee can lead to osteoporosis. However, this has not been confirmed by research. A Swedish study including about 60,000 women reported: "High coffee consumption was associated with a small reduction in bone density that did not translate into an increased risk of fracture."

Women with a balanced diet containing adequate calcium are unlikely to be at a higher risk of osteoporosis as a result of drinking coffee.

4. Caffeine sobers a drunk. People who drink too much alcohol often turn to coffee to sober them up. However, caffeine doesn't sober a person or make them fit to drive. It may make them more alert, but it doesn't negate the effects associated with alcohol.

In fact, it could increase the danger. Without the drowsiness associated with drunkenness, a person is more likely to believe they are sober and prompt them to drive -- or drink more alcohol.

Note: you can search the internet and find various reports and myths regarding coffee.

Next week, we'll discuss the benefits and detriments of drinking coffee.

--GENE LINZEY IS A SPEAKER, AUTHOR, AND MENTOR. SEND COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS TO MASTERS.SERVANT@COX.NET. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR.

Editorial on 09/11/2019

Print Headline: Coffee Is In The News (Part 1)

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