Aside from the delicious smell of roasting coffee beans, nothing quite beats a hot cup of joe first thing in the morning, sometimes even two, but how healthy is caffeine really? Aside from waking us up and helping us get through the day, does drinking coffee have any real health benefits?
A lot of the things we love, unfortunately, aren’t always good for us, but surprisingly, coffee isn’t one of those things. According to health professionals, coffee has several health benefits as a result of high levels of antioxidants and nutrients, helping us to lower the risk of type two diabetes and other diseases.
Aside from this obvious benefit, there is a reasonably vast list of benefits associated with the effects of caffeine on the body. Caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant that affects your nervous system. When you drink coffee, your bloodstream absorbs the caffeine and sends it directly to your brain. Here, the caffeine causes recognisable symptoms such as alertness and increased energy levels.
If you are an avid coffee drinker, we have gone ahead and justified your coffee habit for you and listed some of the great benefits you can get from a nice hot cup of black coffee.
1. Coffee is packed full of antioxidants & helps us to fight diseases
Staying caffeinated not only helps to keep you awake, but can leave you at a lower risk of developing deadly diseases. According to nutritionist Clare Goodwin, coffee is full of antioxidants which supply our bodies with powerful healing qualities.
“The main benefit of coffee is that it’s a really powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants fight the damage inflammation causes in our bodies- which most of us are exposed to, and most of the diseases that we’re at risk of (cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes), inflammation is a central part of these. A large review of all the studies on coffee, found that coffee drinking is associated with a decreased risk of breast, colorectal, colon, endometrial, and prostate cancers, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease and type-2 diabetes.”
2. Drinking coffee has been proven to help burn fat
Coffee is one of the only natural supplements proven to help weight loss. According to studies, coffee can boost the fat burning by 10 percent for people with obesity, while it increases fat burning in leaner individuals by 29 percent. GP Kevin Cheng can alter a person’s weight by targeting their BMI and metabolic rate.
“Coffee can help reduce weight, BMI and fat mass by increasing metabolism (assuming no added cream, sugar or milk). It can also mildly suppress appetite and aid digestive health.”
3. Coffee can help to extend your lifespan
For less frequent coffee drinkers, two cups of coffee a day may seem like a lot, but for your average coffee enthusiast, this might only just touch the edges. But don’t worry too much if you need an extra coffee than most people to get you through a tough day, because according to Dr. Cheng, a high caffeine intake can help you live longer!
“Overall regular coffee consumption (2-6 per day) can help you live longer by 10 to 15 percent.”
4. Can help you do better at the gym
Caffeine acts much like a pre-workout, releasing a hefty shot of epinephrine (a.k.a adrenaline) into your bloodstream, which helps you to not only get your head in the game but your body too!
By having a quick shot of coffee before you head to the gym, you are preparing your body to break down fat, providing fatty acids for your body to use as a source of energy.
5. Can help to prevent Alzheimer’s & Dementia
As we get older, some of us are at a high risk of developing mind-altering diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. One of the great natural preventative measures we can take to thwart these diseases, is to drink more cups of coffee. According to research, caffeine can actively block brain inflammation, which can eventually cause cognitive deterioration. By blocking these adenosine receptors, you are effectively remedying inflammation and are at a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Coffee has been so well recognised as a natural deterrent, so much so that even people over 65 who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, have managed to delay the disease by having higher levels of caffeine in their blood. Other studies have proven that avid coffee drinkers are approximately 65% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Although proven to be beneficial to our health, like most things, caffeine also has some negative side-effects you should be aware of before attempting to down a full pot of coffee! One of the most common downsides is a loss of sleep.
According to Nutritionist Clare Goodwin, ironically a lack of sleep can leave you with an increased risk of developing the diseases that caffeine can also help to prevent.
“Caffeine is a stimulant drug, it blocks the hormone adenosine that our brain produces to make us feel drowsy. This is great for helping us feel alert in the morning but can also mean it’s hard to get to sleep, or stay asleep at night,” she said.
“Our bodies need to break down caffeine so that we can excrete it out in our urine. This doesn’t happen immediately after you’ve consumed your cup of coffee, it can take up to 12 hours for most people. That means that if you have a double shot espresso at midday, a quarter of that caffeine is still affecting your brain at midnight (and even more for people like me who have the genes that don’t break down caffeine very quickly).
“One cup of coffee at 7am in the morning, can reduce the amount of sleep you can and your sleep efficiency- how much of the important deep and REM sleep you get. This makes you feel more sleep in the morning and perpetuates the caffeine dependence cycle.”
If it’s just the antioxidant benefits you are looking for in a cup of coffee, Clare says you can ditch the caffeine in exchange for a good cup of decaf which means you no longer have to worry about your coffee intake.
“…For some people, one in the morning works perfectly fine for them, for others, a decaf coffee is a great alternative. Studies show that decaffeinated coffee has all the great antioxidant properties of caffeine, without affecting your sleep.”
So, next time someone tries to tell you to lay off the coffee, you can go in fully equipped with information regarding the fantastic benefits your body is receiving with every single steaming cup of coffee!