Coffee, Americaís Favorite Drink.
Ever since men first learned the pleasure of sipping coffee, there have been other men ready to speak against this tempting, alluring beverage, in itself captivating, yet chemically complex, by solemnly utter thou shall not brew and drink coffee because. In the early days the prejudice was religious. Coffee was forbidden by the Koran on the grounds that it produced a stimulation likened to that of liquor abuse.
Then it was shown that the action of coffee was, in fact, the opposite to that of alcohol, and thus the serving of the once-forbidden coffee became almost a ritual in Muslim Arabia. When coffee made its way into Europe, it was assailed as an infidel beverage, until Pope Clemente VIII tasted it and, surprisingly enough, baptized it as a Christian drink, remarking that it was so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. The next prohibition of coffee was political. Charles II of England attempted to suppress coffee houses on the ground that they were centers of subversive political agitation. Coffee was originally condemned also by doctors because it was not included in their pharmacopoeia and very little was known about it. Now that caffeine is in the pharmacopoeia, some people condemn coffee as a drug. So the controversy has come down through the centuries. As events proved each successive wave of attackers wrong, a new wave inspired by something akin to religious zeal has arisen to confront lovers of coffee with a new set of prohibitions The recurring motive in all this seems to be that anything which gives so much pleasure, must be sinful.
Enter the Health Craze.
Today religious or political prejudice against coffee is extremely rare. But a new style has come into vogue with the American public, a tendency to appraise everything in the food pyramid - from apples to zabaglione- in terms of how healthy it is. So the reasons which some people repeat today for denying themselves the delights of coffee include such familiar statements as it makes me nervous, it keeps me awake, it affects my heart, itís habit forming, it causes acidity, heís too young or heís too old to drink coffee, coffee does not agree with my system. In the background of all this timidity about coffee, is the fact that it contains caffeine. Of course it does ! That is one of the principal reasons why coffee accomplishes the wonders which medical literature freely credits to it. But it happens that caffeine appears in the pharmacopoeia, so this fact alone brands coffee as a drug. But so are meat extracts and concentrated vitamnins listed as drugs. On the other hand, caffeine is not found in coffee alone. If you look in the Encyclopedia Britannica, you will find that caffeine was first discovered in tea (in 1820), and that caffeine is most conveniently prepared by the extraction of tea. Yet no one has ever complained that tea keeps me awake. A caffeine-like substance, theobromine, occurs in cocoa beans. Yet where is the person who ever thought that chocolate made him or her nervous, or worse, accused chocolate of being habit-forming?
Sleep Fallacy Largely Psychlogical.
A well known physiologist at the University of Chicago conducted a series of experiments to test the effects of caffeine on sleep. He took two groups volunteers to perform his tests. To one group he gave several ounces of coffee before bedtime. To the other group he gave a corresponding amount of milk. Those who drank the coffee were sure it caused a disturbance to sleep. Those who drank milk made no such complaint. But what these human guinea pigs did not know was that the coffee had been decaffeinated, while caffeine had been added to the milk.
What Doctors Know About Coffee.
If you examine the medical and scientific writings about coffee you will find a wealth of evidence that Americaís favorite beverage deserves its popularity. You will find, for instance, that coffee sharpens the analytical faculties of the mind. It increases the flow of ideas. It brightens the perception, sight, hearing, touch and other senses. It improves reason and judgment and self-control. But thatís not all!Coffee increases physical strength, speed and accuracy of movements. Yet the remarkable thing is this : the stimulating action of coffee does not leave behind any depression or fatigue. Its action is to assist the muscles in eliminating the poisons of fatigue. If a person who is tired, drinks a cup of coffee, he or she begins to feel better right away. I does not, however, simply dull the feeling of exhaustion, like a narcotic. Rather, to put it in computer lingo, it accelerates the physical output. But even this does not cover all the benefits of coffee, In a recent dispatch from Washington, D.C., on the subject of indispensable war supplies, coffee was listed as highly important to help maintain morale, both in the army and at home.
Coffee and Sleep.
People who are tired, feel the need to sleep. Since coffee actually relieves fatigue, it postpones the need for sleep. For this reason, people who work long hours, or are under heavy physical or mental strain, almost invariably use large quantities of coffee. But there quite a difference between this well known use of coffee and the effect, for instance, of a cup or two of coffee for dinner for the sheer pleasure it affords. The stimulation you get from coffee lasts about two hours, if you are like 97 out of 100 people.When this time has elapsed, the stimulation is gone. Then you feel just the same as you did before you took the coffee. If you take an other cup, you can enjoy a renewal of the buoyant effect. Coffee is a unique pick-up in this respect. It does not create a habit. That is, it creates no physiological craving.
Coffee and Digestion.
Coffee is almost universally served to patients in hospital. It is prescribed to patients by doctors and dieticians. It is a known fact that coffee will stimulate the flow of gastric secretions in the mouth. As a matter of fact, coffee, well prepared, is considered one of the best gastric tonics to help the igestive organs in their functioning. In many European Countries, in fact, Coffee is methodically taken right after lunch or dinner. Of course there are exceptions. There are also a few people who are allergic to coffee, just as there are people who are allergic to milk, strawberries, eggs, peanuts and a long list of other foods. But the foods arenít to blame. It is the individual person who is allergic. But all this has nothing to do with coffee for the average person.
Coffee and Children.
An objection to coffee for young children, occasionally made by social workers, general practitioners and specialists, is that coffee sometimes takes the place of nutritional or nourishing foods. When coffee is a substitution for other foods, this objection is valid. But coffee, as an encouragement to eat other foods, needs also to be considered. Many mothers experience great difficulty in getting their children to drink the proper amount of milk. This may be due to the fact that the child gets tired of the taste of milk. It may also be due to a childís feeling of inferiority at being made to continue drinking milk a babyís beverage, when he thinks himself quite grown up. In either case, mothers may add a quarter of a cup of coffee to a glass of milk to make it tempting, both in flavor and psychologically, because it is, at least to the child, an adult beverage. Coffee can also be used to advantage as a new and enticing flavor for custards, ice cream, yogurt and the like.
Coffee and the Reducing Diet.
Clear coffee, without milk or cream, most commonly referred to as black coffee, has little food value. But one of its many advantages is that it highly increases the rate of metabolism. For these two reasons, coffee has a useful place as an adjunct in reducing diets. This does not mean that coffee makes you thin, but it does mean that the person who is reducing will find coffee helpful.
How Does It All Add Up?
When you come to examine all the terrible rumors about coffee, they turn out to be well, just rumors. Coffee helps you to be wide awake and alert when you are tired by relieving fatigue and strain. Under ordinary circumstances, its stimulation lasts about two hours. After that, you can sleep just as well as if you had never tasted coffee. Coffee is on the regular diet list of hospitals. It is not only regularly permitted, but also prescribed for hospital patients, and, in many pre and post-operative cases, it is the only nourishment of any kind allowed. Some people cannot drink coffee, just as they cannot drink milk, eat strawberries, or crunch peanuts and a long list of other foods to which an unfortunate few are allergic. Poorly made coffee may be disturbing to digestion, just as poorly made French fries may be upsetting. Even in the case of children, no definite harm from coffee has been scientifically shown, although the sensible view is that, used to excess, coffee may provide unneeded stimulation. On the other side of the balance sheet, we find that coffee has been a beverage of good cheer for hundred of years. It is the mainstay of persons under stress, the first thought at fires or disasters, a boon to people who work with their brain or their muscle. The greatest writers, poets, scholars have long been and are today great user of coffee. It sharpens the mind, enlivens the conversation, buoys up the spirit, increases endurance and does all these things by making the body more capable so that you pay no later penalty for the greater effort. Contrary to other stimulants, coffee gives generously with no expectations of pay backs. Where else in the world today will you find a friend who gives so much and asks so little in return?