Does a coffee work its magic to bring you to life each morning? While there’s no scientific proof that coffee has magical powers, in all its wonderful and delicious forms, it’s still pretty super.
Coffee is incredibly popular, ranking as the second most popular beverage behind tea. On average, we each consume almost 2 kilograms of coffee a year. That’s a lot of liquid gold! Not to mention that we collectively spend 3 billion dollars on coffee each year in Australia. So, it’s a precious commodity.
But why is coffee now lauded as a healthy beverage with therapeutic benefits?
Well, research shows that drinking moderate amounts of coffee may be good for the brain, reduce risk factors for nasty diseases and improve our blood sugar control. That’s pretty sweet news, right? But this only scratches the surface. Let’s explore the science.
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The health benefits of coffee
It has been well reported that the caffeine in coffee can delay fatigue and give us a mental boost. Caffeine’s mode of operation is to block an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, therefore acting as a stimulant. This action serves to increase the production of noradrenaline and dopamine, which helps to increase alertness and reaction time. For this reason, it has gained lots of attention in the sports nutrition space, with research showing that caffeine can boost sporting performance.
Further, with the rise of dementia, it is heartening that coffee may help to combat cognitive decline. Coffee appears to be better than tea in reducing the risk of dementia in the elderly. Studies have shown that regularly drinking 3-5 cups of coffee can reduce one’s risk of developing dementia by a whopping 65%. This impressive outcome is likely attributed to coffee’s antioxidant content and ability to improve insulin sensitivity. After all, Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia, has been termed type 3 diabetes. This is because there appears to be a link between insulin resistance and cognitive impairment later in life.
And because of coffee’s ability to improve insulin sensitivity, some studies have shown that having a daily cuppa resulted in a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Once again, this phenomenon is believed to be related to the high polyphenol content in coffee, which acts to reduce inflammation in the body. Thereby, making the body more responsive to the actions of insulin.
Further, there is some promising research indicating that coffee may lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease and certain cancers.
Need any more reason to jump-start your engine with a cup of coffee?
How much is too much?
Yet, there may be some merit in cutting back if your intake is excessive. Downing too many cups of coffees can lead to an increase in anxiety, and cause difficulty sleeping, headaches and irritability. So, if you’re prone to anxiety and these concerns, it’s best to cap your intake to 3-4 cups a day.
Beware liquid calories
If you add sugar, syrups or simply drink too many milky coffees, you may risk tipping the scales. So, it’s best to steer clear of extra calorific additions to your cup of coffee.
In any case, drink your coffee mindfully and savour each drop. And be careful not to overdo it.
So by all means enjoy your coffee, but remember that it can have some drawbacks if you drink too much of it. Nevertheless, the evidence overwhelmingly supports the regular inclusion of coffee in our diet.
Just don’t expect it to give you magical superpowers even if it does make you feel fa-brew-lous.