Give Me That Cup of Joe

Neva and Frank sheepherder 001by Neva Bodin

About ten years ago, while visiting friends who drink decaf coffee, I had an unusual headache—like little needles stinging right behind my forehead. It didn’t occur to me till after we got home and on regular coffee just what I experienced—I was addicted to caffeine!

Years before, I’d noticed if I had a cup of coffee about two PM with the residents at the nursing home where I worked, along with something sweet, I would get weak, sweaty, shaky, thirsty and hungry about four or four thirty that afternoon.

Years after that I read an article that coffee might help prevent Diabetes Type 2 (Non-insulin dependent Diabetes) as it makes your body more sensitive to insulin. Aah-ha, I thought. Now I know what was happening, I was having a low blood sugar reaction to the sugar high causing an increase in insulin which was more efficient because of the added coffee!Coffee Tree JPEG

A year ago, while line-dancing at our Senior Center, the activity director who knew I was a nurse came rushing over to me, asking if I’d come look at a gentleman who passed out while starting to eat lunch. Luckily, when I reached him, he had regained consciousness. Questioning revealed he was diabetic but “never” had passed out like that. More questioning revealed he’d had a carbohydrate breakfast, and drank more coffee than usual that AM while playing pool at the center, further decreasing his blood sugar.

I explained the relationship between coffee, insulin sensitivity and carbohydrates. He hadn’t heard of that before.

In researching coffee—which I love a cup or two of each day—I found plenty of reason to drink it! As I copied information off the internet, I soon had 13 pages, single spaced!

Apparently the average American downed 416 8-ounce cups of coffee in 2009 (by the World Resources Institute’s estimates). According to, 54% of Americans over 18 drink coffee every day. There are 100 million daily coffee drinkers with 30 million drinking specialty coffees such as latte’s etc. And 60 % of those coffee drinkers add cream or sugar.Latte JPEG

In our house growing up, we had coffee at every meal, not for the children though. Dad always added cream and often poured it into a bowl to cool and drink it from there. I believe that is an old German custom. We added sugar only in the form of sugar lumps, which were delicately dipped into the coffee and the coffee sucked from the lump before it disintegrated. I still enjoy that, but don’t enjoy sugar in my coffee—unless it’s a mocha moolatte from Dairy Queen!

It seems coffee has been linked to less heart arrhythmias, (not what I taught in cardiology to patients), colon cancer and liver cirrhosis in several studies I found. While some cautioned that the antioxidants found in coffee may not be of benefit, all seemed to acknowledge there are antioxidants present.

Of more than 193,000 people, those who said they drank more than six or seven cups daily were 35% less likely to have type 2 diabetes than people who drank fewer than two cups daily. There was a 28% lower risk for people who drank 4-6 cups a day, says Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.

A study showed a 20% lower stroke risk in nurses who drank 2-3 cups of coffee a day over those who drank less or none at all. A 2006 Harvard Newsletter reported coffee helped protect against Parkinson’s in men, but not women. Unfiltered coffee has two substances that raise cholesterol.

So, even though drinking too much gives me heart burn, (something I do while camping—what’s a good campfire and s’mores without coffee?), I guess I’ll stick with my cuppa joe. Any coffee drinkers out there?


17 thoughts on “Give Me That Cup of Joe

  1. Interesting post, Neva! I didn’t know about the link between coffee & insulin. I loved your description of the way your father drank coffee–and the comment about it being an old German custom. My father drank his coffee the same way–though he added quite a bit of sugar as well as milk. I got to taste it every once in a while and it was like dessert in a cup. My mother, on the other hand, drank hers black. And she drank coffee pretty much all day long.


    1. INteresting your dad drank coffee that way. We’d probably all wonder about someone doing that today. (The bowl I mean). We drank real cream (we milked cows and separated the milk to sell the cream) in the coffee too. Thanks for reading.


  2. Fascinating. Don’t like Coffee, but give me tea. Still the connection between coffee and other health issues is pretty interesting. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and research. Doris


    1. You’re welcome, I find it fascinating that so many customs–like drinking lots of coffee–actually have healthy benefits that these days must be proved with a study! Seems some healthy things came naturally in the distant past. Love learning things like that. Neva


  3. Very interesting statistics, Neva. I didn’t know the correlation between coffee and diabetes. I’ve always been a coffee drinker (since my teens) and for most of those years I drank it black. My dad didn’t put his in a saucer but put about 3/4 cup of coffee in his cup and added an ice cube to cool it down. I like it very strong and hot, but I do put cream in it now. Ralph and I had to make the switch to Decaf a couple of years ago per doctor’s orders, but I do three scoops of decaf to one of regular ( I couldn’t give up all of the caffeine!).


    1. That’s interesting. I believe there is still a little caffeine in the decaf as I know we had to tell people to not even drink that when prepping for a cardiac test. I like my coffee too, especially with chocolate goodies! Neva


  4. Hey, Neva, fascinating article full of new facts for little old me. I’m said to be prediabetic, was even put on metaformin (hate it, it makes me nauseous and the stomach roils at the sight of food). Yet I drinks probably 10 cups of coffee a day, though some cups still have some coffee in it when I dump it to put new coffee in. So what does that make me? Those new-fangled coffee makes that make one cup at a time… they’re under demon possession. Got to go… figure it’s time to make another cup of brew using the demon coffee maker.


    1. I think that makes you smart! Always have to weigh the benefits against the evils of everything–even medications. I try to do everything in moderation–that way I won’t know what got me in the end maybe! Hope you enjoyed that cup of brew! Neva


    2. Hey, MIke. FYI: My hubby was diagnosed as diabetic. Lost 20 lbs and cut out carbs and his blood sugar is back to normal. He does have to watch what he eats though. And he should be exercising, but that’s not something he does willingly.


  5. After years of being told coffee is bad for you, I love the change in attitude. I usually only had two cups in the morning and left it at that. Now I’m drinking more and it seems to be okay, as long as I don’t do it too late in the day.

    Our younger daughter has now convinced her older brother that coffee (presumably the caffeine) messes up your insulin reaction, and they both feel better now that they’ve given it up. Heard anything about that?


  6. Ah, Neva. Coffee. I love my 2 cups of filtered coffee after my OJ in the morning. It’s definitely a habit and I know I could break it, but haven’t yet. Later in the day, I tend to drink around three more hot drinks but they are often tea. I haven’t read any details recently of the pros or cons of coffee drinking so thanks for the great update!


  7. What a fun post. Brought back memories. Mom always said she got a headache if she didn’t have coffee in the morning. She allowed me to have some over bread and sugar. I’m in the 4-5 or more cups a day. I’m sipping from a travel mug right now as I read this. I’m a black coffee drinker. Health benefits? I have type 2 diabetes, working hard in trying to control it with no meds. Line dancing-I really need to join a senior citizen group. Cher’ley


  8. Interesting post, Neva — like others, you provided insight I didn’t know. I didn’t drink coffee until I married Greg, even though both my parents drank it during my childhood. I do have to add both sugar and cream, and I prefer the cream with flavoring (like chocolate!). Starbucks opened my eyes to ways to make coffee NOT taste like coffee, and I like it that way! HA!


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