By Honor Blanco Cabie
MANILA, (PNA) – Ricarte takes an average of 42 cups of coffee every day, which stretches from his breakfast table to near midnight before he retires to bed, spent from giving his full hours in a demanding newsroom.
Edgardo himself takes a cup at the breakfast table, then makes a cruising pace on coffee cups while he is in the office despite the tension and stress he experiences in an accounting firm.
Armando, a highly-paid litigation lawyer, works long hours in the night even before he appears in the court room when he prepares his motions, memoranda and briefs — a cup of coffee after cup of coffee on his study table well beyond the midnight clock.
Except for Ricarte who takes the “barako” – strong and highly acidic – brand which his province of Batangas is known for, Edgardo and Armando prefer the decaffeinated to the one from roasted coffee beans that have helped define the province south of Manila.
”Barako,” which belongs to the species “Coffea liberica,” is also used to refer to all coffee from Batangas and Cavite, a term for a male stud of an animal, and has become associated with the image of a tough and mighty man.
The three are close friends but Edgardo and Armando are visibly, and audibly happier – following Ricarte’s tales of incessant nightmares he has attributed to cups of steaming “barako.”
But Ricarte admits he cannot just spill off the contents of his cup on to his table placemat.
What Edgardo and Armando don’t realize is there are side effects to drinking even decaffeinated coffee.
According to medical experts, although coffee is decaffeinated this does not give assurance it is free from caffeine, saying 8 ounces of it may contain 3 to 12 milligrams of caffeine.
This is small amount, yet experts point out it has enough psychoactive properties that can last for several hours.
Several milligrams more – and the drinker may not have the capacity for measurement details – and experts warn the coffee may already have some negative effects on a person’s mood and might affect his power and even his memory.
Doctors say those who have an intake of 2.5 milligrams are prone to make errors, particularly when they are confronted with visual information.
But there are some benefits from drinking coffee, according to some studies.
If Popeye the sailor man had his spinach to make him strong, some studies suggest there is power in coffee, like a freshly brewed espresso is not only a good way to bolster and enhance mood, but now it is known to keep one energized as well.
In one study, an intake of espresso before strength training could make lifting weights a bit easier.
According to the study, 37 people took either a placebo pill or caffeine supplement equivalent to 2 to 8 ounce cup of regular coffee.
An hour later and after doing bench presses, those who had caffeine lifted five-pounds greater that those who had intake of the placebo pill.
In yet another study, women who had an intake of espresso experienced 33 to 46 per cent less muscle pain on their legs.
What then is the verdict on the coffee cup?
One coffee analyst says if contradicting research has the person wondering if coffee is healthy or harmful, the answer is simple: it depends.
A recent study showed a benefit from drinking java on a population level.
But it’s difficult to make individual recommendations for safe coffee consumption, said Dr Ahmed El-Sohemy, a University of Toronto associate professor funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research who has studied caffeine and health.
El-Sohemy’s research has shown coffee could either lower or raise a person’s risk of heart attack.
That’s because safe daily coffee intake is going to vary with the ability to process caffeine — and that changes from person to person.
There’s no easy way to tell how effectively your body deals with caffeine, and therefore how much of it is safe for you to drink, he said.
Because individual variations are hard to measure, it’s difficult to confidently recommend a safe amount of coffee consumption because what might be dangerous for one person could have no effect on another, El-Sohemy said.
That’s why different studies have associated coffee consumption with both an increased and a decreased risk for many chronic diseases, he said.
Even for a single condition like heart disease, the findings have been inconsistent.
“You can sense the stimulating effects of caffeine when it binds to receptors in the nervous system,” he said.
“You cannot feel how quickly your liver is breaking down caffeine in your body, and there are no other signs or symptoms that tell you whether or not caffeine can trigger a heart attack in you.”
While the latest study, from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, did not prove that coffee is protective, its results strongly suggest that drinking coffee is not harmful to healthy individuals.
The researchers looked at thousands of healthy men and women from earlier studies and discovered that in the women, drinking two to three cups of coffee daily was associated with an 18 per cent reduction in death from all causes, while four to five cups daily showed a risk reduction of 26 per cent.