We all love the rich, invigorating aroma of fresh coffee that wafts through the air early in the morning (and, for the true aficionados, continues to waft all day). That first sip is a pick me up, a much-needed infusion of energy. But beyond this caffeinated surge, have you ever stopped to think about the broader impacts of coffee on our well-being?
Historically, studies pointed fingers at coffee as the cause of various health problems, linking it to the rising epidemic of poor sleep. However, this did little to its unstoppable rise, with a staggering 2 billion plus cups (1) being consumed daily. Modern research brings good tidings for coffee enthusiasts, showcasing that a moderate coffee intake (2-5 cups a day) can have many health benefits! (2) Delving into the bean’s goodness, coffee is brimming with antioxidants and other active substances that can protect against disease, including a set of chemicals known as polyphenols. These magical compounds act as a natural defence agent in most plants, especially those that are dark coloured and bitter-tasting (hint: red wine gets a nod too) and have beneficial effects on the heart via our gut. In high quantities, these polyphenols supercharge our gut microbes, prompting them to produce compounds that are thought to protect not only the heart, but also the rest of the body. (1)
Beyond just benefitting the heart, both regular and decaf coffee seem to support liver health, and individuals who consume coffee regularly are more likely to have proper and healthy liver function (3)50. Studies have also indicated that habitual coffee consumers have a lower likelihood of contracting type 2 diabetes and endometrial cancers (2). But the perks don’t stop there; our brains can also reap the rewards. Coffee seems to fend off symptoms of depression and, impressively, drinking just two cups daily might offer the brain a robust defence against the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. (3)
The quintessential caffeine property of coffee can also not be ignored, with many of us claiming a dependency on this quality. Curious about the science behind the caffeine boost? Here’s a sip of knowledge: caffeine blocks the effects of a neurotransmitter called adenosine. This increases levels of the brain chemicals which are responsible for our energy levels, including dopamine, fondly labelled the ‘’happy hormone’’. One study found that consuming caffeine before and during a round of golf not only uplifts energy but also diminishes feelings of fatigue and enhances performance. (4)
Don’t you love it when something that tastes so delicious also has so many health benefits? But, as with all things, moderation is key. Whilst the health advantages are clear for those who enjoy a few cups, they might start to diminish by the time you’re reaching for the sixth. And some important knowledge to end on: 150 espressos worth of caffeine could be lethal! (1) So, lets savour our coffee, but within limits!
2 – https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/is-coffee-good-or-bad-for-your-health/#:~:text=%E2%80%9CFor%20most%20people%2C%20moderate%20coffee,%2C%20Parkinson’s%20disease%2C%20and%20depression.