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Experts urge moderation in coffee intake to avoid negative health effects

By Suzanna Goussous - Feb 15,2016 - Last updated at Feb 15,2016

Health specialists say Turkish coffee, a staple beverage for Jordanians, should be consumed in moderation (Photo by Muath Freij)

AMMAN — Jihad Ali, a nurse at a local hospital, cannot get through the day without having at least six cups of Turkish coffee.

Ali said he needs coffee to "stay awake" and because he is "used to having it".

"I can't not drink coffee while I'm working. It's more of a habit... I have to concentrate all the time. I know it has its disadvantages but I can't stop myself from drinking six to seven cups daily," he told The Jordan Times.

But the Turkish coffee preferred by Ali and many other Jordanians, with its high concentration of caffeine, can contribute to diseases and disorders such as heart, bladder or kidney problems, health specialists agree.

Caffeine in coffee has negative effects such as temporary insomnia, stomach issues, rapid heartbeat, muscle instability, restlessness and nervousness, according to the Mayo Clinic website.

However, those who stop consuming caffeine may experience symptoms including fatigue, headache, depression and concentration difficulty.

Mamoun Zibdeh, a senior consultant, urologist and renal transplant surgeon, said a normal amount of caffeine intake amounts to 200-300 ml per day, equivalent to no more than three cups of coffee or three to four cups of tea.

“Coffee raises blood pressure. This is not good for patients with heart problems, who should refrain from having large amounts of coffee on a daily basis,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone this week.

“Those who suffer from kidney and heart diseases will get affected easily by caffeine, unlike people who have better health conditions," Zibdeh continued.

Coffee also causes “over-active” bladder activity, according to the health specialist.

“Coffee drinkers in general suffer from the inability to control their urination; they should try to stay away from taking caffeine to avoid more bladder activity," he added.

Ali Amayreh, a urologist, said caffeine in general is “bad for the body” and “can harm the human brain”, as well as causing people to age "more rapidly".

He said there are multiple side effects of drinking coffee, including stomach diseases from the introduction of acidic elements into the body, disorders in the adrenal gland, and constipation.

“The acidity in coffee can create an ulcer in the stomach. This phenomenon can be seen when coffee left in a container for a while eats away the container,” he told The Jordan Times.

However, Amayreh said coffee also has beneficial effects in some cases, noting that it activates the nervous system and the heart muscle, which provides the body with more energy to perform.

“An advice to those who practise sports is to drink one to two cups of coffee before their workouts, as it reduces muscle pain,” he added.

Nutritionist Rand Aldisi said coffee's positive health effects include helping in the process of overall fat burning, increasing the rate of metabolism and activating blood circulation.

She added that normal and instant coffee types are better than Turkish coffee, since the latter is made using hydrogenated oils, which increase harmful LDL cholesterol and reduce “HDL good cholesterol”.

Coffee can also affect the oral cavity and prevents the body from losing weight and fat in areas around the stomach, Aldisi said.

 “It is difficult to advise the public not to have Turkish coffee as it is widespread in our community, yet moderation is key… Up to three cups of Turkish coffee per day is acceptable with one teaspoon in each cup," she indicated.

Jordanians consume around 17 million kilogrammes of coffee per year, according to Khalil Haj Tawfiq, president of the General Association for Foodstuff Merchants.

Aldisi said pregnant women's coffee intake should not exceed one cup per day, offset by a 30-minute walk.

“Caffeine gives the embryo energy and doesn’t allow the mother to sleep at night. Thus, pregnant women cannot function properly,” she noted.

 

Aldisi added that a high coffee intake can be replaced by one cup of Turkish coffee and two glasses of milk, noting that for each cup of coffee, one should drink a 350ml glass of water to balance it.

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