A cup of coffee does more than wake you up in the morning.
While caffeine sometimes attracts bad press, sensible amounts may be good for you, so hold off on going cold turkey on your favorite hot beverage. Caffeine is found naturally in everyday food and drinks like tea, coffee and chocolate, but this natural stimulant is also added to performance-boosting products, painkillers and even some specialist beauty products, so it does come with health benefits. Before I tout its benefits, let it be known that in some cases caffeine can worsen health conditions, such as migraine, high blood pressure and anxiety.
But what are the potential benefits of a low to moderate intake?
1. Caffeine can help you focus
For obvious reasons, many people reach for a cup of coffee to help them stay awake. In fact, caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant. Classed as a ‘nootropic’, this means it provides a short-term boost to your attention and focus. Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors in the brain to increase alertness, enhance attention and reduce the perception of fatigue. Some evidence even suggests that regular caffeine intake may have a protective effect against dementia, although more studies are needed to confirm this. It would seem that benefits are possible with moderate intake of 1-2 cups per day but higher than this there may be disadvantages.
2. Caffeine can help with athletic performance
Caffeine increases strength, stamina and endurance, making it popular among elite athletes to give a performance edge. Studies confirm that caffeine improves both muscle strength and power, especially in the upper body. There is currently more evidence of this effect in men - more studies are needed to determine the effects on women. Caffeine helps athletes to keep going for longer and can improve training intensity and performance in sports such as endurance cycling and running.
3. Caffeine boosts your metabolism
Drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee can increase your metabolic rate for about three hours, so you could supposedly burn more fat and generate more heat. This effect is also why caffeine is often added to over-the-counter painkillers, as it speeds up the action of other ingredients like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. It can mean an additional 5 to 10 per cent of people are helped by a particular medicine and these tablets contain a similar amount of caffeine to a cup of coffee.
So there you have it, your morning cup of Joe could be benefiting you in ways you had not thought of in the past. #butfirstcoffee