Arguably, coffee is one of the most loved substances in daily life. Many people claim to not be able to live without it, or even to function properly. We all know that coffee and it's component, caffeine, are addictive, but is coffee actually bad for you? Does it have any health benefits? Recent research has shown that coffee may have some health benefits, but s always, we recommend consumption in moderation.
Current studies have shown that coffee can improve energy levels and make you smarter; it can help you burn fat and increase your metabolism; it can increase your physical performance; it contains essential nutrients and antioxidants; it can reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes and maybe even Alzheimer's; it can reduce your risk of Parkinson's Disease and help reduce depression; and it can protect your liver, reduce your risk for certain cancers and lower your risk for stroke.
We all recognize the zing of energy we get when we consume caffeine. This happens when caffeine enters the bloodstream and begins to effect the brain by blocking Adenosine. When Adenosine is blocked, other neurotransmitters increase and cause an increase in firing neurons, thus "jump starting" your brain. Coffee can increase the functionality of memory, mood vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and generalized cognitive functioning. This is just the start of what coffee can do for you.
Coffee can also help you burn fat and increase your metabolism while increasing your physical performance. Coffee is recognized as a natural substance which can aid in fat burning, and it can be found in almost every commercially produced fat burning supplement. Coffee has also been shown to increase the metabolic rate by 3-11%, with higher effects in leaner consumers. The metabolic increases are found to be more pronounced in occasional users than long-term coffee drinkers. As a fat burning substance, it actually breaks down fat molecules into free floating fatty acids, which the body can then utilize as fuel. Coffee also stimulates the release of Epinephrine in the body, which prepares the body for intense physical exertion, therefore coffee can increase performance by 11-12% on average.
Proper nutrition includes the consumption of certain essential nutrients in our daily diet. Coffee actually contains 6 of these essential nutrients, including Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium and Niacin. A single cup of coffee contains 2-11% of these nutrients. Coffee also contains a large amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that prevent the oxidation of other molecules. This is important, as the oxidation of other molecules leads to free radical production, which in turn may damage cells. Studies have shown that Americans are receiving more antioxidants from coffee consumption than from fruits and vegetables. I do not condone replacing fruits and vegetables with coffee, in fact, we would recommend eating a proper amount of fruits and veggies, but at least you know you are getting a good dose of nutrients from your morning cup of Joe!
Type 2 Diabetes is a serious disease that effects more than 300 million people worldwide, and is characterized by unregulated sugar levels in the bloodstream. Recent observational studies have shown that with each morning cup of coffee, participants had a 7% reduced risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. No concrete connection has been made, but the observational studies are promising. In addition to reducing your risk for Type 2 Diabetes, coffee may also reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease, reduce your risk of Parkinson's disease, and fight off depression. In addition to eating a healthy diet, and exercising, coffee consumption has shown as reduction in the risk of Alzheimer's disease by up to 65%. Parkinson's is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, characterized by the death of dopamine-generating neurons in the brain. The consumption of caffeinated coffee has shown a reduced risk of up to 60%, whereas decaffeinated coffee shows no reduction in risk. Coffee has also shown to reduce the risk of women becoming depressed by 20% in women who drank 4 or more cups per day.
Coffee's protective aspects do not end at antioxidants and reducing the risk of serious diseases. Coffee can actually protect your liver from the condition of cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is characterized by degeneration of cells, inflammation, and fibrous thickening of tissue. Cirrhosis changes the structure of the liver and reduces its ability to properly function. Studies have shown that drinking 4 cups a day can reduce your risk up to 80%. Additional studies have shown that coffee can reduce the risk of liver and colorectal cancer up to 40% and it can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
With all of these health benefits you may be thinking of increasing your coffee routine, or even taking one up. I do not recommend that you drink more than the recommended amount of 400 milligrams of caffeine. Coffee varieties, as well as the size of the cup, will determine the amount of caffeine. Coffee can become addictive and consumers may find it difficult to stop consumption or even to cut back once they are addicted. Coffee can also increase anxiety, cause insomnia, and can interact with certain medications. Please be practice moderation with your coffee consumption, and enjoy!