International Coffee Day: 7 wellness benefits of caffeine, according to science
A cup of joe could boost your health and happiness.
Every coffee lover knows that the flavourful brew gives you an unbeatable buzz, whether it’s a steaming americano on a cold winter morning of a frothy frappuccino on a sunny day.
While coffee is certainly no ‘health food’ or magic wellness elixir (your spirulina smoothie is probably a healthier habit), studies have shown we can derive health and wellbeing benefits from caffeinated beverages.
To celebrate International Coffee Day (October 1), here are seven reasons to keep sipping (in moderation).
1. It’s said to boost mental function
Do feel like you can concentrate better when you’ve had your first coffee of the day? Caffeine is known to improve cognitive function, particularly alertness and vigilance.
A study found that the optimal daily intake to boost both mental and physical performance, without causing dehydration or affecting sleep patterns, is 0.3 to four cups of brewed coffee. Of course, it varies though – four cups of coffee may affect some people’s sleep.
2. It ‘improves physical performance’
That jittery feeling you get when your coffee kicks in is due to adrenaline – aka the fight or flight hormone – which prepares your body for exertion.
That’s why caffeine can improve your fitness performance. An analysis of 40 research papers found an increase of 12.3% on average.
3. It can make you happier
That post-latte buzz might feel temporary, but regular coffee consumption could make you happier in the long-run. A study from the US found that women who drank two or more cups a day were 20% less likely to become depressed.
4. It’s a source of nutrients
Coffee contains a number of nutrients, including vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B5 (pantothenic acid), which help with energy production.
Plus, a Norwegian study found that coffee was the biggest source of antioxidants in western diets. Antioxidants help to neutralise harmful free radicals.
5. It may even protect your liver
A study of patients who developed cirrhosis of the liver, a condition caused by long-term liver disease, found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had up to 80% less risk of developing the disease.
Caffeine alone wasn’t responsible for the effect, but the same correlation wasn’t found for tea drinkers.
6. Some studies have found it to lower the risk of certain cancers
Coffee may also protect the liver from cancer, with one research paper from Japan showing a 40% lower risk of the disease.
Meanwhile an American study comparing tea and coffee drinkers found that those who consumed four to five cups of coffee a day had a 15% lower risk of developing colon cancer.
7. It may protect against Alzheimer’s Disease in some cases
A number of research papers including a study from 2004 have found that caffeine intake is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, a type of dementia, by up to 65%.
The Press Association
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