How to Boost your Health with Delicious Coffee
There’s little better than a warm, aromatic, comforting cup of coffee in the morning. It is one of the most beloved drinks of Americans, in fact it’s estimated that 83% of the United States population drinks at least one cup daily. Most people would agree that the drink started out as a caffeine jolt (maybe during late nights studying for college courses, or in the first days of their new baby’s life). For most, the beverage gradually morphed into a daily ritual, something they could plan on. Coffee comes in many different mugs; some like it lightly roasted, others black and bold, and some can’t have it without a good dollop of sugar, cream or maybe even a little Bailey’s? Hopefully it goes without saying (though I will anyway), that all of these additives can break the benefits that come with a health conscious brand of coffee. Read on to learn whether coffee is good for you … spoiler alert, ~ 83% of you will be pleased with the findings, and the rest of you aren’t reading this article anyway! :)
Coffee is one of those habits that constantly receives mixed health reviews. Did you know that coffee is actually the richest source of antioxidants in the western diet, more than even ‘superfoods’ like blueberries and kale? This comparison is based on 100 gram weights of said food/drink. Antioxidants are important because they’re anti-aging, free-radical fighting compounds - these are the shields that defend our cells from damage (a.k.a cell oxidation = cell aging).
Coffee is valued for its high antioxidant value and phytochemicals, so it is no surprise that coffee has been linked to a lower risk for certain types of cancers. It also may promote longevity. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, "coffee drinkers may live longer than non-coffee drinkers, having lower risk of dying from many cancers – as well as other chronic diseases." You can read more about the research on the AICR website here.
Athletes know the benefits of caffeine too. Caffeine is technically a psychoactive stimulant drug that is metabolized by the liver. It’s absorbed within 30-45 minutes after ingestion and effects can linger for up to three to six hours (time varies based on an individuals’ ability to clear caffeine from their liver). Caffeine acts on the central nervous system (CNS) to influence vasodilation, a fancy term for blood vessel widening, triggers fat oxidation (fat metabolism, a good thing!) and decreases airway constriction to the lungs. All of these factors boost energy and decrease perceived effort, which means workouts feel easier than without caffeine. A little caffeine consumed post workout has been shown to have benefits too. Compared to carbohydrate repletion alone, a carbohydrate + caffeine combination was shown to increase muscle glycogen by 66% after intense exercise. This means athletes can workout harder and longer the next time around. As with any food or beverage in relation to performance, you want to make sure the specific suggestion works for you, and never try something new on game day.
Type 2 Diabetes
In a 2014 study participants who increased their coffee intake by more than one cup per day over a four year period had an 11% decreased risk of type 2 diabetes in the subsequent four years compared to those who made no changes to their coffee consumption. Participants who decreased their coffee intake by more than one cup per day had a 17% higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Similar results were not observed for decaffeinated tea and coffee.
This meta-analysis suggests a 40% reduced risk of liver cancer in coffee drinkers. Research also shows that coffee consumption results in a lower overall risk of other liver conditions as well. This is because coffee contains several bioactive compounds with potential favorable effects on health, including minerals and antioxidants, mainly phenolic compounds. In particular, chlorogenic acid and other antioxidant substances from coffee beans have been indicated to have an inhibitory effect on liver carcinogenesis.
This recent study suggests a lower risk of atrial fibrillation among men who consume 1-3 cups of coffee daily. Atrial fibrillation is a rapid and abnormal heart beat, as a result the blood does not move through the heart normally and can result in stroke. Additionally habitual coffee consumption has been linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease in women as well. Coffee isn’t gender specific!
For health-conscious coffee lovers then, the most important question isn’t, “Is it good for you?” but rather, “How do you take it?” Remember to limit the extra sugar (natural or otherwise), creams and flavors that can erase the benefits of coffee. Everyone must determine their own tolerance of coffee/caffeine, and remember that it is a stimulate. It’s a good idea to limit ones’ consumption before the hours of bedtime, for those extra sensitive, even limiting it up to 10 hours before bed.