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Life's 3 guilty pleasures

By Faeza
31 March 2016

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Feeling down, or wanting to celebrate something? There are good reasons why you reach for these three things.

And unfortunately, some very good reasons why they can do you harm. Some more so than others, but then it also depends on how much we’re talking about here. Remember too much of anything can probably kill you, and that includes water. So let’s take them one by one:

Coffee

A day without coffee is a bit like a day without sunshine. Some people just can’t get started in the mornings without it.

Pros: The caffeine gives you an energy kick, that’s for sure. It stimulates your central nervous system, and when taken in moderation (2 cups of coffee per day) is thought to provide slight protection against heart failure and type 2 diabetes say the researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard School of Public Health. It is also thought to combat constipation.

Cons: You know that feeling when your heart is beating at top speed and you feel excessively jumpy? You may have overdone the caffeine thing. It is after all a stimulant. Height and weight and age obviously all play a role, but too much coffee (or any drinks containing caffeine) can leave you feeling dizzy, thirsty, feverish and irritable. You could also have trouble sleeping. If you’ve really overdone, you may have trouble breathing, you may feel confused, have chest pain and an irregular heartbeat, says Mayolinic.com. You need to get to the doctor.

Chocolates

So your partner’s left you, and you’ve also heard they’re downsizing at work. All you want is a large chocolate, a blanket and the TV remote.

Pros: In moderation (and that’s the tough word) chocolate, especially the dark variety, together with certain other foods, can protect against heart disease, says the British Medical Journal. And eating chocolate definitely can lift your mood as it contains several chemicals that can pep you up. Chocolate also contains magnesium and calcium, but there are other less fattening sources of these minerals.

Cons: Chocolate also contains small amounts of caffeine (see the section on coffee above and what the risks are of high caffeine consumption). And then, of course, after a week of indulging in front of the TV, it’s no surprise that you can’t zip up your jeans. Chocolates pack a lot of calories and the sugar is bad for your teeth. It plays havoc with your blood sugar levels and can actually contribute to mood swings.

Wine

It’s available everywhere – and people have a way of just putting a glass in your hand at a social occasion. Or you’re just having a quiet evening at home with a glass in front of the TV. It might be a surprise to find out exactly how many glasses you end up having in a week.

Pros: Moderate drinking (one to two 150ml glasses a day) can protect against certain heart diseases, and cancers, and can improve mental health. Red wine, in particular, has health benefits, which spirits don’t have. Also, alcohol is initially a stimulant and can help people relax in social situations.

Cons: If you drink too much, it becomes a nervous system depressant and you might end up being the drunk crying in the corner at the party. Not good. Also, I don’t have to point out the dangers of drinking and driving, and the serious consequences to relationships and career prospects that come with being an alcoholic. Heavy drinking is also associated with an increased risk of cancer and getting a stroke.