Kids & Coffee
You may think of coffee as being an adult-only drink, but lots of kids may start drinking it or want to try it at an early age. The question is, is coffee good for kids? How old should you be if you want to try or start drinking coffee?
A Cup Of History
For a long time, people thought coffee wasn’t healthy – at least for those who drink a lot of it. Some say coffee can make you nervous and anxious, and many regular drinkers would agree.
In medieval times coffee was considered a drug, and early coffee shops were pretty much illegal across Europe.
Today, with other coffee shops sprouting up at pretty much every city corner, things have changed quite a bit. But would anyone have expected scientists and researchers to find out coffee may actually be good for your health? And what about kids? Should they be drinking coffee (for health reasons), too?
The Science of Coffee
A recent study by Harvard researchers suggested that those who drank something like six cups of coffee a day had a much reduced risk of developing diabetes compared to those who consumed no coffee each day.
Coffee may also reduce the risk for Parkinson’s disease, liver cirrhosis, colon cancer, gallstones, and Alzheimer’s disease (for long-term coffee drinkers). But, at the same time, it may INCREASE the risk of heart disease.
Coffee is such a complex brew of chemicals, many of which are created and brought out in the process of roasting and brewing coffee, that research on the health benefits and risks really need a lot more work before any proven results will be found.
Is Coffee Good for Kids?
According to one researcher – Dr. Tomas DePaulis – many parents who keep their kids as far away from coffee as possible could be wrong. He says coffee isn’t that bad for kids and, like in adults, it can help improve concentration and may help children do a little better on tests for this reason.
In an interesting finding from Brazil, kids who drink coffee with milk are less likely to have depression than other children.
Caffeine: The Bad & The Ugly
Unfortunately, there are negative effects of drinking coffee, most of which are associated with drinking large amounts of it. For some people, especially kids, even 1 cup of coffee could have negative effects.
First of all, it’s all-important to remember that coffee contains a lot of caffeine. And, as a kid, there’s a good chance you’re already consuming other products that have caffeine in them, like soft drinks and chocolate. If you add coffee to the mix, you could be consuming way too caffeine on a daily basis.
The National Institute of Health says even though caffeine is safe to consume in moderation, it may have a negative effect on your overall health and nutrition. Caffeinated drinks may be replacing better-for-you foods like milk, and you may not be eating the right amount of food per day because caffeine affects your appetite.
In fact, the National Institute of Health says caffeine can be completely restricted in a child’s diet since there is no nutritional requirement for it.
Caffeine can also increase or be bad for heart problems or nervous disorders, and can produce symptoms like jitters, irritability and hyperactivity. Because it’s considered addictive, caffeine can cause restlessness for those who are hooked and miss their daily dose. There may also be some short-term side effects to consuming caffeine, like heartburn, headaches, stomach problems and high blood pressure.