What are the benefits of consuming coffee?

By Syafiqah Sidik Khan

Napoleon once said “A very strong coffee resurrects me. It causes an internal stewing, a singular gnawing, and a pain which is not without pleasure.” Coffee is actually very healthy. It is loaded with antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that can improve your health. Studies show that coffee can boost brain function, burn fat and more. Coffee’s effectiveness as high-performance brain fuel makes it liquid gold, and it’s not surprising that coffee’s primary active ingredient, caffeine, is the globe’s most commonly used psychoactive drug.

For each one master who broadcasts that coffee is one of the most advantageous beverages we can consume, there seems to be at least one other expert who proclaims the exact opposite which says that quitting coffee is a prerequisite for establishing a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes there could be some disadvantage of drinking coffee (for example, coffee caused insomnia and restless to some people) but studies always shows that consuming coffee is beneficial for the average person’s health, especially if the coffee is sourced from high-quality, organic beans.

Coffee also boosts the brain function and helps to burn fats. Coffee beans are one of the world’s greatest sources of caffeine. A study published in Psychopharmacology found that as little as 32 milligrams of caffeine (less than that found in a single cup of coffee) “significantly improved auditory vigilance and visual reaction time.”

A review featured in Nutrition Bulletin also found that caffeine had beneficial effects on mood and mental clarity. According to researcher Bertil B. Fredholm, caffeine’s cognitive benefits stem from its ability to block the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine in the brain. When adenosine is blocked, the amount of other neurotransmitters, including the “motivation” neurotransmitter dopamine will increases, leading to a greater firing of neuron. So, drinking a cup of coffee before an important intellectual event, such as taking an exam, could help improve performance.

Caffeine indeed helps a lot in losing weight. Most commercial fat-burning supplements, contains high amount of caffeine. A study which was conducted and published in the American Journal of Physiology showed that caffeinated coffee increased lipid oxidation (the degradation of fat) by 10 percent in obese women and a whopping 29 percent in lean women. This effect tends to diminish with age, however, and it is more pronounced in younger people. In addition, studies show that caffeine can increase our metabolic rate by up to 10 percent depending on the amount consumed (larger doses tend to produce greater effects). Therefore, if you think that your sluggish metabolism might be contributing to your inability to lose weight, consider adding more coffee to your diet and see if it helps.

Moreover, by consuming coffee, it helps make your reproductive systems happy. By consuming coffee, it can lower your risk of prostate cancer, and for ladies it can lower the risk of endometrial cancer. A 2011 study found that men consuming at least six or more cups a day reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 20 percent! Another study published in the Journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found that women who drank more than four cups of coffee a day had a 25 percent lower risk of endometrial cancer.

It is also scientifically proven that, by consuming coffee, it may help you strengthen your muscles and your DNA. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, causing it to send signals to the fat cells to break down body fat. Caffeine makes the fat cells break down body fat, releasing them into the blood as free fatty acids and making them available as fuel.

A study in the journal Cell Metabolism found that caffeine actually had a similar effect to our DNA molecules in our muscles as exercise (now, this does not mean you can stop exercising). The study looked specifically at DNA changes of muscles in sedentary individuals and found that positive effects from coffee were similar to effects derived from exercise.

The most interesting factor in the study was the fact that these positive changes were seen rather quickly. Given these effects, it is not surprising to see that caffeine can improve physical performance by 11-12%, on average. Because of this, it makes sense to have a strong cup of coffee about a half an hour before you head to the gym.

Many people might not know that coffee is related to diabetes in a good way. This is a good news for avid coffeeholic because by consuming coffee, it can prevent us from type 2 diabetes. Researchers at UCLA identified that drinking coffee increases plasma levels of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG controls the biological activity of the body’s sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) which play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.Dr. Simin Liu, one of the authors of the study, said that an “inverse association” exists between coffee consumption and risk for type 2 diabetes.

There is also another research been carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers, which conclude that the diets of the participants were evaluated using questionnaires every four years, with participants who reported having type 2 diabetes filling out additional questionnaires. In total, 7,269 study participants had type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that the participants who increased their coffee intake by more than one cup a day (on average, an increase of 1.69 cups per day) over a 4-year period had an 11% lower type 2 diabetes risk over the subsequent four years, compared with people who did not change their intake.

There are some people who would definitely want to avoid or severely limit coffee consumption, especially pregnant women. People with anxiety issues, high blood pressure or insomnia might also want to try limiting coffee for a while to see if it helps. There is also some evidence that people who metabolise caffeine slowly have an increased risk of heart attacks from drinking coffee.

It’s important to keep in mind that many of the studies in the article are observational studies, which cannot prove that coffee has caused the beneficial effects. But given that the effects are strong and consistent among studies, it is a fairly strong indicator that coffee does in fact play a role. Despite having been demonised in the past, the evidence points to coffee being very healthy, at least for the majority of people. If anything, coffee belongs in the same category as healthy beverages like green tea. ***

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