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Are There Any Health Benefits Of Caffeine?

Caffeine’s most popular benefit is increased energy levels. It also enhances focus by improving the communication between different parts of the brain. You’ll feel happier and less stressed, thanks to caffeine’s ability to boost dopamine and serotonin, two “feel good” neurotransmitters. The analgesic effects of this drug can also treat pain, especially in the form of headaches. Additionally, caffeine stimulates thermogenesis and reduces appetite, resulting in weight loss.

If you, like about 85 percent of the American population, cannot begin your day (or get through it) without a cup or two of hot coffee, here’s some good news for you! As much as you may have been reprimanded by your “health freak” friend for being so dependent on the stimulant, you don’t really have to quit caffeine! If you’re not a coffee person, we don’t recommend that you transform into one, of course, but if you are, there’s no reason to give up your loyalty to caffeine.

If you’re worried about the potential health hazards of caffeine, you may breathe a sigh of relief as it’s not as harmful as we believed all along. Research indicates that when consumed in moderation, the benefits of caffeine might actually cloud its side-effects! Here are 10 ways in which coffee may be good for you.1

1. Energy Boost

This might be the most obvious advantage of caffeine. It’s exactly why coffee is a morning staple! Caffeine is perfect for a pick-me-up, especially if you didn’t get enough shut-eye. It may even motivate you to exercise.2

Of course, sleep is the healthiest way to refuel. No amount of caffeine can replace a good night’s rest. However, in small doses, caffeine can help kick start your day. Just be sure to take it before 3 p.m., so it’ll wear off by the time bedtime rolls around.

2. Increased Focus

The energy benefits of caffeine consumption also enhance concentration. In young people, caffeine improves the brain’s functional connectivity. It’s also easier to figure out tasks, like writing papers or doing chores.

These caffeine benefits also help the elderly. A low dose has been shown to boost the communication between different parts of the brain.3 The result is a better attention span and memory. This may be especially useful for post-menopausal women, who often report difficulty concentrating.

3. Better Mood

Aside from clearer thinking, caffeine will also make you happier. Low doses are linked to reduced levels of anxiety, stress, and nervousness.4 It’s all thanks to caffeine’s positive influence on dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters associated with good mood.5

These effects are more prominent in older and fatigued people, but others can still take advantage of these caffeine benefits. For the greatest effect, caffeine should be consumed in the morning.6

4. Headache Relief

When you don’t get enough sleep, headaches are likely. They can also happen from stress or tension. So why not sip some coffee or tea? The caffeine in these drinks will increase your level of adenosine receptors, which play a role in pain relief.7 Taking caffeine with ibuprofen will also exhibit stronger effects.8

However, keep in mind that caffeine can be useful for minor headaches. Extreme cases warrant immediate medical attention.

5. Weight Loss

Weight management takes time and patience. But caffeine can actually speed things up! It has the ability to increase thermogenesis, the amount of heat your body makes. This process burns calories even when you’re at rest. At the same time, caffeine has been shown to suppress appetite, therefore lowering energy intake. Between the boost in thermogenesis and the decrease in appetite, you’ve got the perfect recipe for weight loss.

Caffeine benefits also include fat breakdown. This is known as lipid oxidation, and it has the greatest impact on obese individuals.9

6. Keeps Your Heart Healthy

You unconditionally love coffee with all your heart, no doubt, but does your heart return the affection? Turns out, it actually does! Moderate coffee consumption is linked to a reduced risk of stroke, heart failure, and heart disease. It also reduces your risk of mortality due to heart conditions. However, if you consume more than 5 cups of coffee a day, your heart health could suffer.10 11

7. Reduces Your Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

If you have prediabetes or are at a risk of developing diabetes, you might have been asked to regulate your caffeine consumption. But, if you’re a coffee lover, here’s some great news for you – you don’t have to quit coffee! According to Harvard researchers, reducing your daily coffee intake by one cup can actually increase your type 2 diabetes risk by 17 percent.

The cherry on top of the cake is that you can even drink one extra cup! In fact, drinking one extra cup of coffee every day (as long as you don’t end up consuming over 5 cups a day) for a period of 4 years can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 11 percent.12

8. Delays Alzheimer’s

Do age-related cognitive disorders (like Alzheimer’s, dementia, or Parkinson’s disease) run in your family? If yes, coffee might just be your savior! The results of most studies that explore the protective advantages of coffee against Alzheimer’s have been consistently positive. Individuals who drank between 3 and 5 cups of coffee in their midlife had a  65% reduced risk of developing dementia in their later ages. Thanks to the antioxidants present in it, coffee may also help delay the onset and reduce the severity of dementia and Alzheimer’s in people with an increased risk.13

9. Prevents Certain Cancers

There is sufficient evidence to say that coffee could fight certain type of cancers. Studies observe that by increasing your daily coffee intake by one cup, you can reduce your risk of liver cancer by a significant margin. It is also noted that coffee could fight oral, colorectal, and endometrial cancers, although results across studies are mixed. However, coffee seems to have no effect on cancers of the stomach, pancreas, lung, breast, ovary, and prostate.14

10. Reduces Premature Mortality

The more coffee you drink, the longer you live! A study reveals that people who drink between 1 and 5 cups of either caffeinated or decaf coffee every day are at an 8–15 percent decreased risk of mortality than non-drinkers. We’re not telling you to gulp down cup after cup of coffee, of course, as coffee is helpful only if you drink less than 5 cups a day and any more than that could prove harmful. 15

Safety Notes

Caffeine benefits are dependent on dosage. They are linked to low doses, which is about 100 to 200 mg per day. To put it in perspective, an 8 oz cup of coffee has 100 mg caffeine, while two 8 oz cups of tea have 120 mg.

Excessive intake is another story. It can have unpleasant side effects like tremors, anxiety, depression, dehydration, and trouble sleeping. Over time, it can stop calcium absorption and contribute to osteoporosis.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid consuming too much caffeine. An intake of 300 mg or more per day might contribute to miscarriage.

If you’re already dealing with intense stress or sleeping problems, skip the caffeine. It might just make your conditions worse. The same goes for acid reflux, stomach ulcers, and high blood pressure.16

References   [ + ]

1. Mitchell, Diane C., Carol A. Knight, Jon Hockenberry, Robyn Teplansky, and Terryl J. Hartman. “Beverage caffeine intakes in the US.” Food and Chemical Toxicology 63 (2014): 136-142.
2. Randolph, Derek D., and Patrick J. O’Connor. “Stair walking is more energizing than low dose caffeine in sleep deprived young women.” Physiology & Behavior (2017).
3. Haller, Sven, Cristelle Rodriguez, Dominik Moser, Simona Toma, Jeremy Hofmeister, Indrit Sinanaj, Dimitri Van De Ville, Panteleimon Giannakopoulos, and K-O. Lovblad. “Acute caffeine administration impact on working memory-related brain activation and functional connectivity in the elderly: a BOLD and perfusion MRI study.” Neuroscience 250 (2013): 364-371.
4, 6. Cao, Chuanhai, David A. Loewenstein, Xiaoyang Lin, Chi Zhang, Li Wang, Ranjan Duara, Yougui Wu et al. “High blood caffeine levels in MCI linked to lack of progression to dementia.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 30, no. 3 (2012): 559-572.
5. Ruxton, C. H. S. “The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks.” Nutrition Bulletin 33, no. 1 (2008): 15-25.
7. Baratloo, Alireza, Alaleh Rouhipour, Mohammad Mehdi Forouzanfar, Saeed Safari, Marzieh Amiri, and Ahmed Negida. “The role of caffeine in pain management: A brief literature review.” Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine 6, no. 3 (2016).
8. Diamond, Seymour, Timothy K. Balm, and Frederick G. Freitag. “Ibuprofen plus caffeine in the treatment of tension‐type headache.” Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics 68, no. 3 (2000): 312-319.
9. Harpaz, Eynav, Snait Tamir, Ayelet Weinstein, and Yitzhak Weinstein. “The effect of caffeine on energy balance.” Journal of basic and clinical physiology and pharmacology 28, no. 1 (2017): 1-10.
10. F Whayne, Thomas. “Coffee: A Selected Overview of Beneficial or Harmful Effects on the Cardiovascular System?.” Current vascular pharmacology 13, no. 5 (2015): 637-648.
11. The latest scoop on the health benefits of coffee. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.
12. Coffee may help reduce type 2 diabetes risk, say Harvard researchers. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.
13. Eskelinen, Marjo H., and Miia Kivipelto. “Caffeine as a protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 20, no. s1 (2010): S167-S174.
14. Alicandro, Gianfranco, Alessandra Tavani, and Carlo La Vecchia. “Coffee and cancer risk: a summary overview.” European Journal of Cancer Prevention 26, no. 5 (2017): 424-432.
15. Ding, Ming, Ambika Satija, Shilpa N. Bhupathiraju, Yang Hu, Qi Sun, Jiali Han, Esther Lopez-Garcia, Walter Willett, Rob M. van Dam, and Frank B. Hu. “Association of coffee consumption with total and cause-specific mortality in three large prospective cohorts.” Circulation (2015): CIRCULATIONAHA-115.
16. Caffeine in the diet. U.S.National Library of Medicine.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.