First and foremost, I would like you to know that I am a coffee drinker. And yes, I confess as a fitness and health professional I have been guilty of asking my clients, family and friends to manage their coffee consumption.
The research up until now had been presented with mixed emotions and with a majority of negative research pointing to how caffeine is the cause of problems like heart palpitations, trigging anxiety, interrupting weight loss and disrupting sleep.
Most recently, however, research is proving that you can have up to 4 coffees a day without harm or side effect, and in fact there is now substantial data proving that coffee is as good for you as green tea. It has been emphasised that coffee is as high in antioxidants and it is being linked to have an impact in reducing the risk of many diseases. Although before I begin on the reasons why we should drink coffee, let me begin by outlining a short introduction on caffeine.
How Does Caffeine Work?
Caffeine is a naturally occurring compound found in the leaves and fruits of certain plants. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cocoa, soft drinks and energy drinks. It may also be found in chocolate bars, energy bars and some over-the-counter medications, such as cough syrup and most pre-workout supplements.
As we digest Caffeine into the body and blood stream, caffeine binds to the adenosine receptor cells in the brain, however, it is important to note that by doing so, caffeine has no active effect on the nervous system. By binding to receptor cells in the brain there is an effect on the adenosine molecules. This process is known as “competitive inhibition” and effectively delays the onset of fatigue, increases alertness and improves people’s ability to sustain attention.
The process works on the body in similar ways to hormone adrenalin. The adrenal glands are located near the kidneys and when we are frightened, or stressed, the adrenal glands squirt adrenalin directly into the bloodstream. The results are dramatic and instantaneous, with an increase in breathing and heart rate, accompanied by a short burst of physical energy.
What Are The Benefits of Coffee?
As a release of neurotransmitters, like norepinephrine and dopamine, increases activity in the brain it also drastically reducing tiredness, therefore making us feel more alert. The neurotransmitters also improve mood, reaction time, vigilance and general cognitive function in the short term.
A study, in The American Journal of Clinical Studies states that caffeine can also boost metabolism (calories burned) by 3-11% and even increase exercise performance by 11-12%, on average. The study also discusses how Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease and is caused by the death of dopamine-generating neurons in the brain. Coffee drinkers lower their risk of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s by 32-60% and Alzheimer’s by 65%. The study also indicates that the more coffee people drink, the lower their risks of both disease states.
Studies also indicate that coffee drinkers appear to significantly reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and in some studies there was some evidence that coffee drinkers are up to 23-67% less likely to become diabetic. Depression was another disease that coffee had a significant affect on. A Harvard study from 2011, identified that subjects in the study who consumed the most coffee had a 20% lower risk of becoming depressed.
The evidence on the benefits of coffee are just amazing, however, it’s important to note that there are things you can do to amplify the positive effects of coffee. The most important thing is to NOT add any artificial chemical based products such as processed milks and creams or refined sugars when you consume your coffee. Coffee has had its fair share of bad publicity in the past and as an addictive compound it’s important to note that keeping an eye on consumption is key, just be mindful that the human body does have the ability to develop tolerances to things it consumes a lot of.
So, drink up! They are recommending up to 4 regular cups of coffee per day. That’s a little more than I have in a day but with all this research I’m looking forward to my morning flat white at Nudo’s Café in Cronulla.