Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD – Coffee is controversial. Depending on who you talk to, it’s either a lifesaving beverage, or a dangerous, addictive poison. So, what is the truth? Does coffee affect whole health? Well, coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. It can cause issues in some people, including sleep disturbances. Despite the potential for addiction and the precautions that should be taken when drinking coffee, there are also many good things to be said about it.
Does Coffee Really Cause Cancer?
In a June 2016 report, the WHO officially lifted coffee from the list of potentially carcinogenic foods. It went on to commission coffee as a potential defender against cancer of the uterus and liver. Coffee can boost energy, mood, and its active ingredient, caffeine, is one of a few natural substances proven to aid in fat burning.
Coffee Can Help With Energy And Performance
Pretty much everyone is familiar with the energy-boosting effects of coffee. Caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, which causes a stimulant-like effect, temporarily improving energy, mood, memory, and brain function overall. A study commissioned by the National Coffee Association surveyed 3,000 Americans about their coffee drinking habits. It found that 64 percent of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee every day, with many opting to consume caffeine regularly through the convenience of personalized coffee subscriptions rather than going on the daily Starbucks run.
A Better Metabolism
Caffeine has been proven to help burn fat, and specifically increases fat burning by up to 10% and can boost metabolism from anywhere between 3-11%. For this reason, it is found in almost every commercial fat burning supplement on the market. Stopping for coffee on the way to the gym could actually be beneficial to your workout. In addition to stimulating the nervous system, it increases adrenaline levels, which prepares the body for physical exertion. Perhaps the coolest benefit of caffeine for a work out is that it breaks body fat down, which frees fatty acids to be used as extra fuel. It’s been shown to improve physical performance by up to 12%.
What About Whole Health Benefits?
Did you know that your morning cup of Joe contains some essential nutrients? One cup of coffee can contain up to 11% of the recommended daily value of riboflavin (B12), 6% of pantothenic acid (B5), 3% of manganese and potassium, and 2% of niacin. Studies have shown coffee drinkers (those who drink from 4 to 5 cups a day) to have a 25-50% lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes, a 40% lower risk of liver cancer, and a 15% lower risk of colorectal cancer. The same amount of coffee can significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and can even lower the risk of Parkinson’s, which is the second most common neurodegenerative disease.
For many people in the US who adhere to some version of the Western Diet (comprised predominantly of processed foods, refined sugar, fats and flours), those daily cups can be their biggest source of antioxidants, providing more than fruits and veggies combined.
Everything In Moderation
Now, let’s look at how coffee affects whole health negatively. Caffeine on its own has no nutritional value. It will make you feel energized, however, over time, too much can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, drowsiness, and anxiety. According to studies, it is safe for most adults to consume up to 400mg of caffeine per day. Drinking coffee on a regular basis usually leads to a heightened tolerance in most people, and factors such as body mass, age, etc. can determine an individual’s tolerance. Women should limit their intake to between 200-300 mg per day when trying to get pregnant, and keep it around the same while pregnant.
Verdict About Coffee And Whole Health
Despite the fact that some studies carried out regarding coffee and health have been observational, they have all demonstrated strong and consistent associations meaning that coffee could have a positive impact on your health, both physical and mental. However, before you pour yourself another cup of Joe, experts say it’s important to remember that caffeine is a drug, and as with any drug, there are right ways and wrong ways to use it.