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Is Coffee Good for You?

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Coffee is a glorious drink. It’s the only thing worth getting up for in the morning and, for us at Coach at least, the prospect of our morning joe is the last thing we think about at night. It drives workplaces all over the world, combating morning grogginess and post-lunch slumps, and provides the perfect foil for a first date.

Despite all of this, coffee has spent years being viewed with unwarranted suspicion regarding its impact on health. It’s loaded with caffeine, addictive and bad for you – some people even curse themselves as they sip their caffeinated and joy-free hot beverages. Well, we’re not going to stand by and let coffee take this undeserved flak any longer.

Coffee is not only not bad for you, but also has multiple health benefits, according to research. And sure, caffeine is addictive, but it’s hardly heroin. Cutting out caffeine might give you headaches for a couple of days, but it’s not going to result in hallucinations of swivel-headed toddlers set to Born Slippy.

Don’t take our word for it. In April last year a review of evidence relating to the health risks and benefits of coffee came down firmly on the side of the sacred bean, finding that its health benefits (or null effects) clearly outweighed the risks of moderate consumption. The review looked at all manner of diseases and conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, cancers and overall mortality.

If that’s not enough to make you want to immediately grab a cup of java, read on for ten more reasons why coffee is good for you.

1. Coffee is associated with a reduced chance of developing prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men with one in eight getting it during their lifetime (a number that increases to one in four among black men). One way you might be able to reduce your risk of prostate cancer is by downing three espressos a day, according to a study by the Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed (IRCCS) in Pozzilli, Italy.

The study tracked 7,000 men and their coffee consumption habits for four years. Those who drank three or more cups of espresso per day were found to have a 53% reduced risk of getting prostate cancer compared with those who drank two or fewer cups. The effect was most likely to be due to the caffeine in the coffee, rather than any other substance, so keep it real rather than opting for decaf when you order your espresso.

2. It helps guard against type 2 diabetes

A recent UCLA study found that six cups of coffee a day could reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes by up to a third. That’s a lot of coffee (beyond the recommended daily maximum intake of 400mg of caffeine – crazy scientists!), but daily consumption of any amount of the stuff lowered the likelihood of developing the disease.

3. It helps guard against neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s

Research published in the American journal Neurology found a link between regular coffee consumption – as little as one cup a day – and a lower risk of Parkinson’s.

4. It has a potential protective effect against Alzheimer’s

Research shows that coffee leads to enhanced firing of neurons in the brain, which improves cognitive function and so lessens your likelihood of developing dementia.

5. It decreases your likelihood of being depressed and suicidal

In 2013 researchers looked at studies that had followed more than 200,000 people over 14 years, and found that those who drank two to four cups of coffee a day were 50% less likely to commit suicide than those who either drank decaf or fewer cups of coffee.

6. It keeps the Grim Reaper at bay

When scientists collected data on the coffee-drinking habits of 130,000 men and women and followed them for over 20 years, they found that people that drink two to five cups a day have a slightly lower all-cause mortality.

7. It boosts your metabolism by anywhere from 3-11%

...which helps you to burn fat more efficiently.

8. It can be good for your blood pressure

Having analysed 36 different studies with 1,270,000 participants, researchers concluded that people who drank in moderation, defined as three to five cups a day, actually lower their risk of developing heart disease or stroke.

9. It improves your athletic performance

Coffee does this by breaking down body fat, releasing fatty acids into the blood stream, which are then used as fuel.

10. It protects your liver

Researchers at the World Cancer Research Fund International found that drinking two or more coffees a day cuts your risk of developing liver cancer by as much as 40%. The results suggest that if you drink three cups a day, the risks are reduced by more than 50%. Coffee is also heavily implicated in fighting off the effects of alcohol on the liver – drinking two or more cups of coffee every day can reduce the risk of death from liver cirrhosis by 66%.

The 5 Most Beneficial Times to Drink Coffee

1. After a marathon

Coffee is a diuretic (it makes you want to go), but it is not known to dehydrate you – and as caffeine has been shown to aid the absorption of carbohydrates, a coffee after the race will help you restock once you’re ready to eat.

2. When a headache or migraine threatens

Migraine patients report that a strong cup of coffee can stop an attack in its tracks. Caffeine is a key active ingredient in many prescription and over-the-counter headache medications and has been proven to make them 40% more effective than those without caffeine.

3. Between 10am and 12pm or 2pm and 5pm

Recent research shows early morning is the worst time of day for coffee due to the high levels of cortisol (a hormone released in response to stress and low blood glucose) in our bodies first thing. Taking in caffeine when cortisol levels are high can mean the body ends up producing less of it when it’s needed, so drink later.

4. A couple of weeks before a dental check-up

Research published in the Journal Of Applied Microbiology, Brazil found that coffee with a high caffeine content, drunk without milk or sugar, can protect your teeth. Coffee, especially the more acidic brews, has an antibacterial quality that can break down and kill the film of bacteria on teeth that causes plaque and leads to tooth decay.

5. An hour before a workout

Caffeine, a legal stimulant under International Olympic Committee rules, is the most popular drug in sports. Coventry University found that athletes performed 16% better if they had ingested caffeine 70 minutes beforehand. Caffeine boosts fatty acids in your system, allowing your muscles to absorb and burn fats for fuel.

Bridget Freer

Bridget was a freelance journalist who contributed features to the print edition of Coach in 2016.