At one point or another, we have all encountered someone who is all too eager to lecture about coffee and the adverse effects it can have on one's physical well-being. Most of us have a caffeine-hater in our lives, but next time you come across them, here are some benefits of drinking coffee that might be good to have on hand.
Let’s Talk Antioxidants
Some claim coffee is healthy and energising, while others claim it is addictive and harmful. However, one thing we can all agree on is that if you look at the evidence, coffee is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet. This has something to do with why it has been linked to lowering your risk of some serious chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and even liver cirrhosis.
In fact, recent studies suggest that coffee delivers more antioxidants than any other food group. Believe it or not, but caffeine itself is an antioxidant, according to a study published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B by ACS.
Antioxidants play a huge role in keeping us healthy. They help fight against free radicals and oxidise them, ensuring harmful substances can then be flushed naturally out of the bloodstream and body.
On another note, a great way to optimise the absorption of these antioxidants is to take MCT oil with your coffee, as this improves absorption in the gut. A new animal study compared the effects of MCT oil versus safflower oil on the absorption of a specific class of antioxidants, and MCT oil enhanced tissue uptake of antioxidants to a much greater degree than safflower oil.
Can Coffee Improve our Memory?Whilst coffee has been the go-to beverage of choice for those seeking an energy boost, researchers at John Hopkins have recently claimed that consuming coffee regularly has been linked to improvement in memory. According to Michael Yassa, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at John Hopkins, coffee has been proven to have a positive effect on long-term memory, with caffeine enhancing certain memory functions for up to a day after it was last consumed.
If you talk to neurologists and toxicologists, caffeine is believed to affect areas of the brain responsible for concentration and memory. Therefore as a direct consequence, caffeine provides a boost to short-term memory as well as an individual’s concentration and acuity. Coffee helps to block a neurotransmitter called adenosine in your brain, which means it is freer to fire off dopamine and norepinephrine – the things that help to improve mood, memory, reaction time and overall cognitive function.
Dr Perlmutter, neurologist and author of 'Grain Brain', goes so far as to say "Coffee can save your brain. It activates our Nrf2 pathways, helping to fight off oxidative stress and protect against neurodegenerative diseases."
A happier heart
Cardiologists traditionally have advised patients to not drink coffee, but studies are now showing that coffee could help protect cardiovascular cells from damage, and also help them to repair. According to two large meta-analyses—one including more than 400,000 cohort subjects, and the other more than 1 million—there is no association between drinking coffee and the long-term risk of developing heart disease. In one of the latest and longest lasting studies, drinking coffee has been positively linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and coronary disease by up to 8% in some individuals.
What about weight loss?
Coffee contains caffeine, which is one of the few substances known to help mobilise fats from your fat tissues and increase metabolism. In controlled studies, it's been shown to boost metabolic rate by up to 3-11%, depending on the person and the dosage, with emerging research suggesting that caffeine may help boost ketone levels which is also great for maximising your fat burning potential.
As regard to diabetes, those who consumed 6 or more cups per day had a 22% lower risk of diabetes. A recent review of research conducted by Harvard’s Dr Frank Hu showed that the risk of type II diabetes decreases by 9% for each daily cup of coffee consumed. Decaf coffee decreased risk by 6% per cup.
Better Exercise Performance
Looking to pump those biceps or run that marathon? Well, you may be surprised to learn that coffee has some beneficial effects on athletic performance. When consumed before exercise, coffee can cause fat cells to be used as an alternative energy source, as opposed to glycogen. Not only does coffee obviously improve focus and endurance, but it also accelerates fat loss, decreases muscular pain, and increases your overall performance whether on the track or on the tricep press machine.
But what about caffeine, can it be harmful?
For some people yes, and for others no. Obviously, it’s not wise for anyone to drink huge amounts of coffee, as it can dehydrate the kidneys and over stimulate the adrenals, but in moderate amounts and due to having the right genes, it can be of great benefit.
There is one gene in particular, CYP1A2, which controls an enzyme – also called CYP1A2 – that determines how quickly our bodies break down caffeine.
One variant of the gene causes the liver to metabolise caffeine very quickly. People who inherit two copies of the “fast” variant – one from each parent – are generally referred to as fast metabolisers. Their bodies metabolise caffeine about four times more quickly than people who inherit one or more copies of the slow variant of the gene. These people are called slow metabolisers. The research is now showing that fast metabolisers are more likely to receive the benefits than slow metabolisers.
If you want to find out your if you’re slow or fast metaboliser, then, I recommend getting a 23andMe genetic test done, or a variation of this kind of genetic testing. However, if you feel jittery just looking at a cup of coffee, then more than likely you have two copies of the 'slow variant' from each parent, making you 'slow, slow' and should probably drink very little caffeinated beverages or just stick to decaf.
This brings me on to Coffee + Collagen which was created for both slow and fast metabolisers, as it contains slightly less caffeine due to it being just over 70% coffee, and the rest made up of grass-fed collagen and caffeine calming adaptogenic herbs. I carry the slow variant so am not great at dealing with caffeine, but absolutely love the bitter notes and antioxidant potential of coffee, so Coffee + Collagen is my go to for a deliciously smooth, but not overstimulating brew.