Coffee plays a large and extremely powerful role in the lives of millions of people. It is a comfort and a ritual in the morning for legions of workers, and its vast collection of affectionate nicknames is a testament to the favorable eye and fond heart with which it is viewed. From the simple but familiar sounding “cup of Joe”, to the more exotic and dramatic “morning thunder” or “liquid gold”, and even the more accurate “jitter juice”, it is clear that in the minds of the majority, coffee is an elixir and potion capable of injecting a certain desirable emotion and power into life that would otherwise be lacking. Unfortunately, this beverage brings with it serious and long lasting destructive effects on the human brain and body, often unexpectedly and without warning.
The tragedy is that coffee’s dark side is unknown to most. Strenuous educational campaigns have been mounted against alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs like cocaine. But coffee seems to have slipped through the cracks unnoticed, where it can work its insidious damage in plain view, undetected. Unlike other “recreational” drugs (and make no mistake about it, coffee is a drug), where use decreases with age, when it comes to coffee, the older a person gets the more likely they are to identify themselves as a coffee drinker. By the age of 18, 30% of Americans consume some type of coffee beverage on a daily basis. By the age of 50, the number has doubled to at least 60%. Some studies indicate that consumption among senior citizens may be as high as 75%. The fact that older people drink even more coffee than younger people dispels the popular myth that people drink coffee just to function at work or in school, or to party all through the night.
So why and how has this toxic, destructive, caffeine laden beverage crept into the very fabric of society? How has it embedded itself thoroughly and seemingly irrevocably into the framework of interaction, of work, play, and amusement?
The answer is deceptively simple: coffee offers the sweet and seductive temptation of something-for-nothing, with beautiful promises to endow the user with almost supernatural powers of charm, endurance, vitality, and intelligence: Feeling down? Drink some coffee! Still feeling down? Drink some more coffee! Didn’t get enough sleep last night? Well, have a cup of liquid lightning! Conversation stalling over the dinner party with the Jones? Who’d like a cup of coffee? All better? Great! What’s that you say? You need to pull an all-nighter because there’s a big presentation tomorrow? Don’t worry, have a cup of brain-brew! You’ll do just fine! Make it extra strong! High octane Go-Juice is what we need!
All of which is fine and even miraculous until the day the headaches and nausea start to kick in, which is the signal to “up the dose”. Try 4 cups instead of 2 and the problem might go away. For a little while.
When the inability to sleep, combined with the cardiac arrhythmia gets to be too much, it might be time to move up to 6 or 7 cups a day. If the acid reflux and heartburn persist, try 12 cups. If your bones start crumbling due to osteoporosis, well, no amount of coffee in the world is going to fix that. Caffeine, after all, requires a tremendous amount of calcium to neutralize. And the anxiety, the irritability, the diarrhea, the dizziness, the high blood pressure, the high cholesterol, the nutritional deficiencies, the tremors, the pounding heart and the depression? Well, you can’t have super-human vitality without a little inconvenience, after all!
All sarcasm aside, the simple fact of the matter is that the primary active ingredient in coffee, caffeine, is a powerful and degrading substance. This stimulant triggers the release of adrenalin, the “fight-or-flight” chemical responsible for ensuring that the strength and energy necessary to survive an extreme encounter with a wild animal or dangerous situation will be there when it is most needed. In this context, adrenalin makes sense, and will preserve life.
With coffee, however, the adrenalin induced “fight-or-flight” response is being triggered each and every day, week after week, and year after year. No organism can withstand that form of stress without reaping the consequences of such traumatic conditions. Imagine, for a moment, a human being who was forced to encounter and endure an ambush and fight with a dangerous wild animal every single day of their life, several times a day, struggling for their very survival. Would that human being grow up to be healthy and strong, living to a ripe old age in good health?
Absolutely not. Over the course of the years, their physiology would be worn down from the constant strain and fear, and their organs would begin to break down from the constant onslaught of the toxic chemical cocktail produced by an organism in severe mental, physical, and emotional trauma. They would die an early death, robbed of decades of life and happiness.
Every cup of coffee stimulates the exact same condition in the human body as what has just been described. As the body detects the presence of caffeine invading and breaching the brain/blood barrier, it reacts by triggering an emergency response. The heart beats faster, the lungs work harder, and the blood vessels leading to the brain become narrowed in an attempt to channel the dangerous substance out of the body as quickly as possible. For it must be unequivocally stated: caffeine is an absolute, unadulterated poison. Just 10 grams of caffeine accumulated in the bloodstream would result in immediate death. Caffeine injected directly into the muscles results in sudden and severe paralysis.
Fortunately, the human body is so remarkable and resilient that it calls the kidneys and liver into action to strenuously prevent any accumulation of this concentrated deadly substance. But the result is a nation and world of human beings whose very organs and nervous systems are being worn down by the stress of life-and-death battle taking place inside the body as it struggles mightily to preserve itself. Eventually, of course, it becomes too much. Not only are the liver and kidneys worn down and devitalized, but the very linings of the bladder and stomach become too damaged to resist ulceration and cancer. Blood pressure becomes chronically elevated, and diabetes sets in as the body no longer retains the vitality to regulate normal metabolism.
In this context, it becomes clear why consumption of coffee increases with age. Robbed of the natural health, energy, and vitality that are the birthright of all beings, people turn to coffee in the hopes that it will provide what they desperately know they are lacking. As the body becomes more and more damaged, numbed, and destroyed by the toxic influence of caffeine, the individual needs ever larger and larger doses in order to stimulate any sort of favorable response.
The adrenal glands eventually are so over-stimulated that the coffee drinker needs to intake massive quantities of caffeine just to feel “normal.” Bowel movements even began to become dependent on the stimulation of caffeine, as the intestines themselves fall prey to the fatigue and stress of constant stimulation. At this point, a vicious cycle is the order of the day, as the very poison responsible for the havoc and destruction is applied as the cure.
Is there a way out of this tragic situation? Can human beings enjoy steady energy, productive work, stimulating conversation, motivating activity, and physical well-being without this veritable cocktail of destruction? The answer is yes, absolutely and with certainty. But it requires an attitude of maturity, and a realization that it is only in the world of fairy tales, con men, and real estate seminars that the promise of “something-for-nothing” is presented as a serious option. In the real world, vitality and personal power, wealth, and health are accumulated through simple but regular and consistent, cause-and-effect actions, not through quick-fix potions and concoctions.
By applying the principles of a healthy lifestyle, and by scheduling life in such a way that adequate fresh food, exercise, and rest are not neglected, energy and long life can be mutually compatible. Literally years and even decades of life can be preserved and enjoyed by embracing and listening to the body’s messages and requests, and by refusing to succumb to the siren-song of coffee and the artificial stimulation that is its attendant nurse, bringing liquid disease and death.
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