Is drinking coffee good or bad for you? This question has been circling around the world for ages. In the UK we drink around 70 million cups of coffee every day and it is the second most traded commodity in the world, after oil. In recent decades, scientists have studied the positive effects of coffee on various aspects of psychophysical health and have debunked many negative myths on consuming coffee. Read on for our Top 5 Hidden Health Benefits Of Coffee and why drinking it sensibly is actually helpful!
1. Type 2 Diabetes
In 2009 a Dutch scientist examined that drinking at least 3 cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is because caffeine decreases insulin sensitivity as well as impairs glucose tolerance. This has potentially important implications in light of the already high and increasing prevalence of this disease. There are many studies analysing the association between the intake of coffee and type 2 diabetes and overall the reduction in risk ranges from 23% and rises to 67%. However once a sweetener is added to coffee the benefits seem diminished and in turn may increase the risk of developing diabetes.
2. Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease
Several published papers including research in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2010 found that drinking coffee regularly – two to three cups a day, reduces the risk of developing Parkinson’s by a quarter. Also a 2009 study from Sweden reported that those drinking 3-5 cups of coffee a day were 65-70% less likely to develop dementia and that caffeine could significantly reduce cognitive decline. In one animal study the intake of caffeine concluded many positive results including improved learning and memory, reduced mediators of inflammation, increased production of CSF (a fluid in the brain that acts as a mechanical and immunological protection) as well as a rise in blood flow within the brain.
To date there are over 500 studies from across the world that have evaluated the potential link between coffee drinking and the risk of developing cancer. One study concluded that drinking 3 or more cups of coffee compared to 1 decreased the risk of developing breast cancer by 48%. In another study it showed that coffee may decrease the risk of developing prostate cancer in men by 20%. Research has examined that caffeine can prevent the development of basal cell carcinoma which is the most common type of skin cancer.
4. Physical activity
Many studies support that drinking 1 cup of black coffee 1 hour prior to physical activity can improve endurance exercise performance by 12%. One of the reasons is because caffeine increases adrenaline levels in your blood that is the body’s ‘flight or fight’ hormone, which helps to prepare for physical exertion.
However to get this benefit, 3mg of caffeine is needed for every kilo of body weight prior to exercise. (e.g. a woman in the UK who weighs 70kg would need 210mg of caffeine before exercise). Caffeine ingestion also significantly reduces muscle pain, helps recovery after exercise as well as help burn fat as caffeine boosts metabolism up to 11%. Furthermore there are around 1000 different antioxidants in the coffee bean which protects the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called ‘free radicals’ which can lead to micro mutations.
5. Mood and depression
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and boosts the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline which elevates mood, fights depression as well as lowers the risk of suicide. Harvard research suggests that 2 cups of coffee a day prevents the risk of suicide by 50%.
So, yes coffee has many health benefits, as explained above however too much coffee as with any consumable substance can be bad for you. Drinking more than 5 cups of coffee especially without hydration can cause fatigue, dehydration and even insomnia. So drink in moderation. Not only is it good for you, coffee has a great aroma, taste and can be made into many other drinks and desserts. In cold winter climates, coffee can certainly give you that much needed jump-start required for heightened mood and a productive day!