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The Science Behind The Health Benefits of Coffee

The Science Behind The Health Benefits of Coffee

in Nutrition by
The Science Behind The Health Benefits of Coffee
By: epSos .deCC BY 2.0

You might think of coffee simply as a delicious, energizing drink, but recent studies have shown that coffee can actually have a positive effect on health as well. In fact, some of the findings behind coffee have been quite remarkable.

It Increases Neuronal Firing In The Brain

Most of us know what it feels like to drink a cup of coffee – you feel a sense of alertness and focus.  It feels amazing. This effect is a result of caffeine, which is probably the most popular stimulant in the world. Caffeine works by blocking Adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter with inhibitory effects. By blocking Adenosine, caffeine actually increases neuronal firing in the brain – this not only makes you more focused, but studies have shown that subjects on caffeine exhibit superior cognitive performance. Does that make coffee a smart drug?

It Boosts Metabolism

The caffeine in coffee also has a positive effect if you’re trying to lose weight. It’s no coincidence that you find caffeine in most over the counter fat burning supplements – it’s in there because it works. Because caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, it increases your body’s metabolic rate, meaning you will burn more calories.

Of course, if you’re drinking caramel lattes at Starbucks and expecting to lose weight, you might want to rethink your strategy.

It’s Linked With Lower Rates of Type II Diabetes

Type II diabetes is the type of diabetes associated with poor eating and lifestyle choices. It’s the diabetes that individuals experience due to an improper diet, lack of exercise, and obesity. Unfortunately, we’re seeing an unprecedented rises in type II diabetes rates in recent years.

Studies have shown that coffee is linked with a lower risk of diabetes. The results have shown risk reduction of 23%, and even as high as 67% among coffee drinkers. In fact, the same studies showed that each extra cup of coffee reduced a subject’s risk of diabetes by seven percent. Of course, since the majority of these studies have been observational, it’s entirely possible that it’s not the coffee itself that is reducing the risk of diabetes, but a 3rd lifestyle factor i.e. people who drink more coffee are more active. Still, even the positive correlation between coffee drinking and lowered risks of type II diabetes suggests that coffee drinkers are doing something right when it comes to health.

It’s Linked With Lower Risks Of Liver Disease

The modern diet is not kind to the human liver. Between all of the high fructose corn syrup and alcohol in the average person’s diet, Cirrhosis and liver cancer rates have been skyrocketing. Yet there have been numerous studies demonstrating that coffee can lower a person’s risk of Cirrhosis by up to 80%, while lowering a person’s risk of liver cancer by approximately 40% as well.

It’s Rich In Antioxidants

Antioxidants are extremely important for a healthy heart. These are molecules that inhibit oxidative stress, which is linked with a number of common diseases, including stroke, coronary heart disease, and even cancer. In fact, coffee is so rich in antioxidants that it is the largest source of antioxidants in the typical western diet.

Final Notes

We’ve seen that coffee can have a surprising number of health benefits, but it’s also important to keep in mind that drinking too much coffee can have negative consequences as well, just like drinking too much of anything. People also tend to drink their coffee with lots of sugar and cream, which can be very unhealthy.

However, what we’ve seen is that – contrary to popular belief – coffee is not bad for you at all. In fact, all the evidence seems to suggest that drinking coffee carries with it a number of health benefits, so the next time you’re enjoying your morning coffee, know that you’re not just boosting your energy – you’re boosting your health as well.

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