Nutrition

Drink coffee without fear of addiction – EXPERTS

CoffeeAS one of the world’s most popular beverage drinks, does coffee really cause addiction? How much do healthcare providers know about coffee?

There are often several questions asked about the health effects or otherwise of coffee, and these came up yet again during the Ignite Stakeholders’ Parley last week in Lagos.

A group of academicians who championed the discourse on these and other issues surrounding coffee during the  stakeholder’s forum , agreed that coffee is consumed for different reasons.

From hindsight, Ignite – a pan African educational project targeted at enlightening the public on the relationship between coffee and health – has organised series of enlightenment drives about the beverage.

Participants gathered that the Ignite programme which is essentially about knowing coffee and its composition, is designed to help consumers understand its effect on human health.

In response to the question, does coffee really cause addiction? Dr. Kemi Odukoya – Public Health Physician and Lecturer, Department of Community Health and Primary Care, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, says an emphativ NO.

According to her, the term “addiction” implies a compulsive and repeated use of a substance that poses a threat to physical, social and economic health.

“Mechanisms of action of caffeine are very different from that of drug abuse and they do not affect the brain circuit and structure for reward, motivation or addiction.

Further, Odukoya recalled that the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders cites no evidence for caffeine withdrawal and the World Health Organisation, WHO, has stated that there is no evidence whatsoever that caffeine use has even remotely comparable physical and social consequences associated with serious drugs of abuse.

She listed other health benefits associated with coffee intake to include:   lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke,  Parkinson’s disease, dementia, increased mental alertness and i improved short-term memory among others.

“Coffee has numerous health benefits as evidenced by many recent peer reviewed scientific studies.  Moderate amounts of coffee consumption may play an important role in maintaining our health,” Odukoya stated.

What makes coffee a healthy beverage? Asked Dr. Bartholomew Brai, a nutritionist, at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, Yaba, Lagos. Brai. In his presentation entitled: “Coffee Side of Life”  he sateed that coffee is naturally rich in antioxidants, mainly polyphenols from the chlorogenic acid family. “Do you know for a moderate coffee consumer, coffee is the highest source of antioxidants from the diet? He observed. Beneficial health effects of coffee is due to presence of anti-oxidants that protect against oxidation.

“Normal modern life exposes humans to many sources of oxidation. An excess of oxidative stress may induce  a deregulation of the metabolism. “Antioxidants help fight free radicals and may protect our cells and tissues by turning harmful free radicals into neutral species by stimulating the production of our natural antioxidant defenses.

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