Study better, focus longer, improve memory retention, avoid dementia, fight cancer, get high (sort of): these are just some of what studies prove as part of the profits of a few daily cups of joe. Most studies that include both pros & cons of caffeine (the most important ingredient of coffee) have 1 thing in common: for the majority of people, caffeine in appropriate doses does more good than harm. Yes, now my excuses to drink perpetually from morning till night are founded on solid (Wikipedia) evidence.
Ok, so for skeptics out there (and Wikipedia critics), lets glance at a few of the major benefits of coffee. (Resources listed below)
Caffeine is a mild stimulant. It keeps the chemical we all have called ‘Adenosine’ from attaching to ‘receptors’ that would slow down our brian. When adenosine is blocked, our neurons can speed up instead of slowing down. This point makes me happy.
Even small doses of the black goodness might boost brain functions. In a number of studies (especially a study of over 7000 – Martin, 1993) there is a correlation between caffeine intake and better performance on tests. This point would have made me happier in college, darn it. ??
Drinking regularly might lower risk of dementia later in life. Yep, you heard right. There are some studies that show a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease for regular drinkers (the lowest risk being 3-5 cups per day).
Adrenaline hormone is sometimes released after drinking. The body does this because of the increased neural activity. This, of course, creates that tiny boost of energy from additional sugars released in the blood (the ‘high’ I referenced above), increased heart-rate, slight blood pressure rise, and breathing tubes opening up. ??
Some caffeine can help with headaches. Caffeine additives make pain relievers 40% more effective in treating headaches, and helps the body absorb headache medications more quickly, bringing faster relief.
Coffee could also (summarizing so the Semi Editor doesn’t kick my butt): fight cancer, prevent diabetes, protect against Parkinsons’, and even Fight Cavities. Dang!
Of course, caffeine is found in other drinks too -including tea & chocolate. However, we all have to be careful about drinking coffee too much. For those with heart problems, over three cups isn’t recommended. If used excessively, caffeine can be too stimulating and cause anxiety, sleep problems, muscle twitching, or abdominal pain. Pregnant women should also consult a doctor about appropriate caffeine intake. Not me though – I just brewed another cup after writing this!
Update (Jan 7, 2010):
The Wall Street Journal published this article recently that is extremely interesting. My favorite highlight from that article – “University of Madrid assessed data on more than 100,000 people over 20 years and concluded that the more coffee they drank, the less likely they were to die during that period from any cause.” 😉
The Semi is the weekly school paper for Fuller Theological Seminary. Please let me know what you think, and what topics you’d be interested in for future articles.