The Health Benefits of Coffee
You may have seen coffee products claiming to be the wonder versions that aid weight loss, give better physical performance or even, would you believe it, a longer life!! The problem I have with this is that most of these, when it comes down to it, are just normal bags of coffee… No-one likes to use the term ‘scam’ but isn’t it? If you’re paying more for the added benefits of a new product that’s already available, isn’t that what this is?
So I’ve done some research on this wonder drug we call coffee, to give you some idea of the great benefits without the need to pay any extra. Looking at the actual nutrients and what it does I’ve reduced it down to a list of 10 unexpected benefits of being a coffee drinker, according to the science at least;
We all know coffee will help you feel less tired but does it make you smarter?
Coffee naturally contains caffeine, which in itself is a stimulant. The caffeine blocks certain inhibitory neurotransmitters in your brain, for you and me this means that they stop the prevention of neurones firing which slow you down. This in turn causes a stimulant effect. As a result improves energy levels, mood and various aspects of brain function. So when a company claims that coffee will make you smarter, this isn’t exactly true but it will help your brain perform better especially when you are getting tired.
Can coffee help you to loose weight?
Several studies have now been carried out which show that caffeine can increase fat burning and boost your metabolic rate. In some cases, coffee can increase your metabolic rate by as much as 10% meaning you will burn more fat for short periods of time. However this has been shown to diminish over time with regular coffee drinkers.
So how can you use this to help you loose weight? The long and short of it would be, to only drink coffee specifically to aid your diet. For example, intermittent fasters can be seen to start their fasting days with a black coffee, increasing their metabolism for peek fat burning, prior to a work out. Done properly this certainly would aid weight loss.
Unsurprisingly, this in turn can aid with your physical performance. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and instructs your cells to break down body fats, making free fatty acids ready for use as fuel. On top of this, caffeine increases the amount of adrenaline in your blood, the fight-or-flight hormone that prepares your body for physical exertion. These together means that a good black coffee, drunk at the right time, 30 minutes to an hour before going to the gym will help with fat loss and physical performance.
We will count that as 2 points for this list..
Coffee can help with depression
Depression is certainly a serious mental disorder, one which many of us will or have experienced in our lifetime, and majorly reduces our quality of life. Having experienced this for myself, I know first hand just how debilitating and isolating this condition can be. It’s a serious condition, one we should all aim to support those that we know are struggling with it.
Looking at our first point, coffee is a stimulant, used in the right way can pick up our mood and help us to feel less depressed. There have been studies conducted that showed people who drank coffee regularly, were less likely to develop depression and even reduced the potential for suicide.
I don’t suggest you tell your friends, family or co-workers to drown themselves in coffee but drinking regularly can, at least potentially, help to prevent developing the symptoms.
There are great services and charities available for those of you who are depressed and I would always advise you seek help and talk to someone before you spend your life savings on coffee!
Does coffee have nutritional benefits?
There is a lot of nutrients in a single coffee bean which, believe it or not, does get transferred to your finished cup! Coffee contains several important nutrients, including riboflavin, pantothenic acid, manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin. Although when looking at a single cup of coffee this really doesn’t amount to a lot but when most people enjoy several cups per day, this soon adds up and is really beneficial to you from increased metabolism, utilisation of other vitamins and liver function.
Can drinking coffee prevent the development of Diabetes?
Several observational studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of type 2 diabetes, a serious condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Researchers at Harvard found that people who increased their coffee intake by over one cup per day had as much as a 10% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Now the studies are unclear as to how coffee has such an impact and is still being looked into as we speak but certainly good news for those of you who are drinking several cups a day!
Coffee is the wonder drug for the prevention of major neurodegenerative diseases!
Now, don’t get me wrong, that is a bold statement. One that certainly can’t be back up entirely so don’t believe all the hype… However, there are studies which suggest that Coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s, the leading cause of dementia worldwide and Parkinson’s disease. I’m not for one second suggesting that if Michael J Fox was drinking more coffee he wouldn’t have developed this common neurodegenerative disorder but there certainly seems to be evidence to back some of this up. The death of dopamine-generating neurones is the leading cause for this and it seems that the caffeine itself, in your daily dose, is the magic ingredient that helps prevent this.
There is no known cure for these and so It’s worth doing your own research on this. There are certainly more questions to be answered than have been, but good to know that there is some credible research to back this claim out there.
Can coffee reduce your risk of heart disease?
Coffee may cause mild increases in blood pressure, which usually diminish over time. This should probably to be taken into consideration, especially if you already have issues with high blood pressure. With this in mind, it is often said that because of this, coffee drinkers have a greater risk of heart disease. Although inconsistent, the conclusive findings of several studies, did not support the idea of coffee increasing risk but in fact reduced the risk of heart disease. A separate study in Japan looked at the coffee consumption, along with other beverages, of over 80,000 people and concluded a reduced risk of stroke.
We’ve found it, the cure for cancer!!
Obviously this isn’t true… or is it? One of the leading causes of deaths worldwide, cancer, which is the uncontrollable growth of cells in the body, is again something that many of us have been affected by. Cure, definitely not but prevention is becoming a real possibility.
Coffee has been shown to reduce the development of both Liver and colorectal cancers by 15-40% by drinking anything up to 5 cups a day. Backed by almost 30 separate studies this is some really positive news but again, isn’t a suggestion that everyone takes up drinking lots of coffee.
Do most people really get most of their anti-oxidants from coffee?
Anti-oxidants are key to prevent damaged caused to cells in the body by what are called 'free-radicals' the product of a chemical reaction through oxidation. Many people source most of the anti-oxidants they consume through fruit and veg including onions, garlic, grapes and apricots. Coffee is rich in powerful antioxidants. In western civilisation it is alleged that a large number of people actually consume more anti-oxidants by drinking coffee because of the poor diet for most.
So there we have it, my top 10 health benefits to drinking coffee and in conclusion, there are definitely benefits, most of which can be backed up by scientific research and study. However these fantastic benefits are already present within your normal, everyday coffee and you don't need to pay through the roof prices for a coffee claiming to be something else. Drinking coffee in the right way, at the right time and in the right quantity will give you some great health benefits... dare I say it, even prolong life for some.