The health benefits (and myths) of coffee – it may even boost your workout!


Guest Blog by Nutritionist Rob Hobson 

These days though scientists and health professionals are in agreement that a cup of Joe can actually benefit our health and may even help to improve your exercise performance. 

One way to reap the benefits of coffee is by including it in your daily protein shake.  That Protein’s Chirpy Chirpy Choca Mocha Organic Super Protein contains real organic coffee so you can reap the benefits!

Coffee may help you to live longer

There has been a huge amount of interest surrounding coffee and the impact of caffeine on health and wellbeing.  Studies have shown that moderate coffee consumption (up to four cups per day) may be linked with a longer lifespan.  According to one particular study published in the journal Circulation coffee consumption may be associated with a 15% reduction in the risk of death (1).

In light of these potential health benefits the World Health Organisation removed coffee from the possible carcinogen list and designated it as being potentially protective against cancer of the uterus and liver. 

So, what are some of the health benefits?

Coffee is very high in antioxidant compounds as well as being a source of micronutrients such as B vitamins and potassium.  It has also been suggested that a typical Western diet provides more antioxidants from coffee than fruit and vegetables combined.  

Type 2 diabetes 

A large review of the research linking diabetes to coffee concluded that people who drank 4-6 cups (caffeinated or decaffeinated) on a daily basis appeared to have a lower risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes (3). This is black coffee. 

While coffee may contribute to a reduced risk the best way to tackle type 2 diabetes is always going to be with a healthy diet and exercise. 

Combat tiredness and increase concentration

Caffeine in coffee acts as a stimulant that targets the brain by blocking the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine.  This in turn results in an increase in norepinephrine and dopamine which fire up certain neurons.  There are plenty of human studies that show how coffee improves memory, mood, energy and cognitive function. 

Athletic performance 

Coffee can be considered an ergogenic aid which means it can give you a mental and physical edge when exercising.  There are several reasons why the caffeine found in coffee may help to aid exercise performance.

 

  • Caffeine helps to improve focus and energy while also combatting fatigue as it activates specific areas of the brain (4).
  • Caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline which can help to increase performance (5).
  • Caffeine may affect a part of the brain called the motor cortex which signals muscle activation (6). 
  • Caffeine may help to increase the body’s ability to utilise fat while sparing the availability of carbohydrate in the muscles which may help to enhance endurance performance (7).   
  • Caffeine has also been shown to increase the amount of heat the body produces (thermogenesis) which can help burn more calories (8). 

 

One way to reap the benefits of coffee is by including it in your daily protein shake.  That Protein’s Chirpy Chirpy Choca Mocha Organic Super Protein contains real organic coffee so you can reap the benefits!

 

What are the most common myths about coffee?

 

The stigma surrounding coffee has led to many myths which have helped to shape people’s opinions on whether or not they should be drinking it or not.

Coffee causes dehydration

Research has shown that coffee doesn’t cause dehydration.  It is a mild diuretic and can make you need to urinate, but the fluid content tends to offset the effects of losses. 

Coffee is damaging to your health

Sticking to the recommended daily amount of 400mg - the equivalent four cups of coffee or eight cups of tea - has no lasting damage on the body.

Coffee can help to aid weight loss

Caffeine does not aid weight loss! The only way to increase your metabolism is by building more muscle and exercising regularly.

 Caffeine is addictive

Caffeine is not addictive by the defined definitions established by most authorities.  It may be addictive in the same way people refer to being addicted to TV, shopping or work but this is not true addiction. 

When regular caffeine consumption is abruptly ceased, some individuals may experience headache, fatigue or drowsiness. These symptoms usually last only a day or so and can be avoided if caffeine intake is reduced gradually.

Caffeine contributes to heart disease

 

Large-scale studies have shown that caffeine consumption does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and does not raise cholesterol levels. A slight, temporary rise in blood pressure has been observed with coffee consumption but more so in people who are sensitive to caffeine (9).

Is there a limit to how much coffee you should drink in a day?

 

Any potential limitations on coffee are associated with the caffeine content.  Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance (an alkaloid) found in the leaves, seeds and fruits of more than 63 plant species worldwide. 

The EU’s food safety watchdog advised a daily limit of 400mg for adults in its first guidelines on caffeine intake in 2015 (2).

Are there any side effects to drinking too much coffee?

The caffeine in coffee acts as a stimulant so the most obvious effects are feeling jittery and anxious.  Caffeine is also a diuretic so can cause an increased need to visit the bathroom.  Heartburn can also be triggered by drinking coffee and in some cases,  it may cause palpitations.  

Some people are more sensitive to coffee than others and this is to do with the variant of a particular gene called CYP1A2.  If you’re lucky enough to have the fast variant, then you metabolise caffeine four times quicker than those with the slower variant.

 

nutritionist Rob Hobson guest blog

 

Rob is a registered nutritionist with over 14 years of experience working in both public health (NHS and charities) and alongside many of the UK’s leading health and wellness brands. Rob is the author of two best-selling books, ‘The Detox Kitchen Bible’ and ‘The Art of Sleeping’, and has written hundreds of articles featured in publications including the Daily Mail and Women’s Health as well as being a trusted voice on both radio and TV. Rob’s infectious, no-nonsense approach to health and passion for food has led him around the globe educating people on how to eat well and sleep better.

 

References 

 


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