Don’t think of coffee as the bad guy – it may be helping your health in more ways than one.
It seems coffee is not the guilty pleasure we once thought it was. Researchers are providing us with good quality evidence suggesting that coffee is more helpful than harmful and could improve everything from brain health to working out.
Here’s a look at some of the latest science.
Coffee boosts brain health
The effects of caffeine on the brain have been studied extensively, with one review finding that caffeine helps to improve:
- Reaction time
- General cognitive function
The amount of caffeine consumed by the people studied was 37.5 to 450 mg per day (approximately 1-4 cups of coffee) which is classified as a low to moderate intake.
Coffee isn’t dehydrating
We’re often told to avoid caffeine because it is “dehydrating” – meaning it causes a loss of fluid in excess of the amount of fluid consumed.
The same study that looked at the effects of caffeine on brain health also reported that low to moderate caffeine intake of up to 400 g wasn’t dehydrating, even when combined with exercise.
Drinking coffee might reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which the body becomes resistant to insulin or can’t produce it. It’s a lifestyle disease that, like heart disease, is largely brought on by being overweight and inactive. Along with heart disease, type 2 diabetes is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a global public health concern.
More than one study has reported that coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. One of the largest studies, which looked at around half a million people, confirmed that drinking coffee lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes by 7%.
Coffee might protect against Alzheimer’s
As well as boosting brain health, coffee could help the ageing brain. Some studies have suggested that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease is lower in coffee drinkers. Research published in the European Journal of Neurology reported that caffeine intake was associated with a “significantly lower” risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
It appears that we still have a lot to learn about the brain health benefits of coffee, yet early research is looking promising.
Coffee improves your workouts
Over the years, there has been tons of research looking at the effects of caffeine on exercise – and caffeine is found in many sports supplements.
It’s fairly well established that 3-9 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight one hour before exercise can help enhance various types of physical performance, including running and cycling, according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Keep your intake moderate, though – the society warns there’s no further benefit when caffeine is consumed at higher dosages (greater than 9 mg per kilogram).
Enjoy your coffee responsibly
The best available evidence suggests moderate caffeine consumption has the most health benefits. Enjoy your coffee in moderation:
- Don’t add sugar or artificial sweeteners
- Reduce the amount of coffee you drink in the afternoon, as it may impact your sleep
- Opt for long blacks instead of too many lattes to reduce the amount of milk
- Aim for no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day (barista coffee tends to have a higher caffeine content than homemade, instant coffee)