Coffee: for many of us it’s the only thing that fuels us throughout the morning and lessens the amount of time we’re likely to just sit staring at walls instead of working. To some people coffee even has an emotional value; it’s a security blanket that keeps us coddled through the dark mornings and enables us to function at our best.
Alas, because we can’t have nice things our morning cuppa Joe is often accompanied with a couple rumours. If you’re a seasoned caffeine addict chances are you’ve heard all sorts of odd things about coffee: it may stunt your growth, keep you awake for twelve days straight, send you into a existential, art house-style crisis; all sorts of weird stuff.
Are any of these coffee-tales true, or are people simply trying to steer us away from our delicious brews? We thought we’d take a quick look at the science behind coffee and found that not only is coffee completely fine for most people, it actually improves our health in various ways:
1. Coffee Lengthens Your Life
Recent research suggests that not only does coffee keep you alert in the short term; it may actually help you stay alive longer. Nutritional expert Dr. Rob Van Dam of The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study of 130,000 caffeine addicts over 24 years and found that the amount of coffee his participants drank had no real impact on their health. In fact, the results showed that men who drank coffee frequently had a 20% lower risk of death, whilst women sat comfortably – probably drinking coffee – at 26%.
2. Coffee Helps You Stay Healthy
An article published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry suggests that by drinking four or more cups of java a day you can reduce your chances of developing type-2 diabetes by a whopping 50%. Although, this probably only applies if you prefer your coffee without sugar.
Another study that spanned twenty years suggests that people who are already diagnosed with diabetes and who drank coffee were 30% less likely to die due to their illness.
People who drink coffee are also much less likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver, a massive 80% less likely. Meanwhile, general antioxidants, vitamins and minerals within coffee have been proven to help prevent gallstones, asthma attacks, heart rhythm problems and strokes.
3. In Fact, You May Even Become An Athlete
We all know that coffee spurs us on through many of our everyday tasks, but there are many studies that suggest it could actually help you run a marathon or partake in other athletic activities.
If you have a cup of coffee about half an hour before going to the gym or for a jog you’ll probably feel a lot more energetic than if you’d have gone without, and it’s not just due to the caffeine. Not only does coffee raise our adrenaline levels, it can also release fatty acids that enter our blood streams and in turn become fuel, which can significantly improve our physical abilities!
4. Coffee Aids Weight Loss
Have you ever noticed that caffeine is usually one of the main ingredients in diet supplements? Here’s why: caffeine actually boosts your metabolic rate by 3-11% and helps you burn fat at a rate 10 – 29% faster than usual!
The Psychology Department at the University of Scranton monitored the weight loss of 16 overweight adults. After 22 weeks researchers found that participants who have been given green coffee extract had lost a significant amount of weight in comparison to those who had not. 37.5% of the participants even went down a category, from pre-obesity to a normal weight.
5. Coffee Helps Maintain Your Mental Health
Whilst it’s important to keep your body healthy, it’s equally important to make sure you are caring for your mind. Studies have shown that women who drink at least four coffees a day are 20% less likely to suffer from depression, and anyone who drinks around that same amount is 53% less likely to commit suicide.
Drinking coffee is also thought to be an active way you can help reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s and / or dementia. The University of Eastern Finland’s School of Medicine found that drinking 3 – 5 cups of coffee a day could lower your risk by 65%.
Similarly, researchers have found that coffee drinkers are around 32 – 60% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
6. Coffee Makes You Smarter
As we consume coffee, the caffeine blocks adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter in our brains. This causes more neurons to fire inside our brains resulting in the caffeine being a stimulant, causing high energy levels and brain function. Studies have found that this increased brain function can lead to better memory, reaction times and overall cognitive abilities.
Innsbruck, Austria’s Medical University, found that men who consumed coffee in a morning performed significantly better on short-term memory exams than their counterparts who had not drank coffee that morning.
7. Coffee naps
Recently, scientists around the world have begun to prescribe ‘coffee naps’ to people in need of a real energy boost. They suggest that by drinking coffee quickly and then napping straight after for around twenty minutes you can significantly improve the efficiency of caffeine. This is because caffeine must travel across the brain in order to work, and so the less activity it comes into contact with on the way the better it will work. A nap helps clear your mind, leading to a wide-awake, more energetic you when you wake up.
8. Coffee Can Improve Your Social Life
Coffee houses were first established in the Middle East hundreds of years ago and quickly became popular social spots. It could have been the aroma, the atmosphere or the fact that caffeine reduces stress by eliminating the hormone cortical leading to much more relaxed social interactions. We think it’s probably the latter one.
So, there we have it: at least four cups of caffeinated coffee a day keeps the doctor away as well as keeping us motivated and alert!
What’s your favourite thing about coffee?