Christian Counseling: Caffeinated Coffee: Vice or Virtue?

Somewhat ironically, I sit here at my computer drinking a cup of iced, caffeinated coffee (no dairy). I guess that reveals my general take on the use of this stimulant. Some claim coffee to be the most used mood-altering drug known to humans. I wouldn't be surprised.

Today, you may hear caffeinated coffee offers drinkers some particular health benefit, while tomorrow you could hear something detrimental about ingesting your cup of Joe. What is one to believe? Perhaps the answer lies in a truth about medication--meds help to prevent or cure those with illness or disease, but all meds also contain a little poison. Another important point is that researchers don't always know if it is the caffeine or other coffee ingredients, such as antioxidants (cancer preventing), or minerals or other unknown substances, that account for several health benefits suggests by a number of studies.

Some of the promising research on caffeinated coffee show it reduces the risk for: diabetes (even Type 2 by controlling blood sugar), some heart diseases, depression in women (up to 20% for those drinking 5 and a half 8 oz. cups a day), some types of headaches, basal cell skin cancer, and Alzheimer's disease (in those who imbibe in mid-life and older age). It can also decrease body-weight, perhaps because it alters one's appetite. There is some controversy about whether it increases alertness. Perhaps it feels that way because it tends to enhance one's mood and increase one's felt energy.

However, caffeine is contraindicated for those who have anxiety or an anxiety disorder (general, panic, etc.), most sleep disorders (disrupts sleep for morning people, but not for night owls), most likely mania, arrhythmia, those taking certain medications, children (including OTC energy drinks), teens (may decrease appetite resulting in eating less and thereby disrupt or retard their growth spurt) and perhaps pregnant women (miscarriages). Though the FDA says that 24 ozs. a day is moderate and causes no adverse health problems, you know your body, and you must be your own judge about whether or not to drink coffee or how much you can take without experiencing side effects, such as becoming jittery, nervous, impatient, irritable or other negative changes in your body or personality.  

Since caffeine can be addictive, caution should be exercised. We are not to become a slave to or mastered by any person, or thing or substance, but only a slave to the obedience of God and righteousness (Romans 6:12-14).

So, what do you think? Is caffeinated coffee a vice or a virtue to you? This is one of those judgments that must be made by each individual and cannot be determined by others for others.

I've finished my cup of coffee. Hey, it wasn't Maxwell House, but it was good to the last drop. 

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