We hear conflicting reports in the news about the health effects of coffee; some research studies say it increases tension, elevates blood pressure or gives people blotchy skin. But the truth is almost everyone either drinks it or tries it from time to time. Coffee is consumed everywhere in the world, and judging by the number of Starbucks stores in the United States alone – 10,924 in 2012 – Americans love their caffeine.
Workers, obviously, rely on coffee more heavily when they are tired or just worn-out, but new studies indicate that this could actually be a good thing: coffee might have distinct benefits for our brains, skin, bodies, and general sense of wellbeing. So let’s review the purported advantages to being among the 54% of Americans over 18 who drink coffee everyday (this figure must be higher here in Washington State!) Researchers have listed the 10 reasons below that we should go ahead and indulge our coffee cravings…
We absorb more antioxidants from coffee than anything else.
According to a 2005 study, no food or beverage product comes “anywhere close” to providing the level of antioxidants we get from coffee. As most of us know, fruits and vegetables also have an impressive amount of antioxidants, but the human body can absorb the most from coffee.
Just smelling coffee could make you less stressed.
A research team at Seoul National University monitored the brains of mice who were stressed by sleep deprivation and found that the group exposed to coffee aromas experienced changes in brain proteins tied to that stress. Interestingly, this aroma study doesn’t counteract stress itself, only the stress experienced as a result of inadequate sleep.
Coffee mitigates the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
In 2012 ScienceDaily reported that coffee consumption might help people with Parkinson’s disease control their movement. The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Ronald Postuma, explained that “Studies show that people who use caffeine are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, but this is one of the first studies in humans to show that caffeine can help with movement symptoms for people who already have the disease.”
Coffee is beneficial to the liver (especially for folks who drink alcohol).
A study published in 2006 that indicates that people who drink one or more cups of coffee a day are 20% less likely to develop liver cirrhosis, an autoimmune disease brought on by excessive alcohol and often leading to cancer or liver failure. The study included 125,000 people over the age of 22. The author of the study, Arthur L Klatsky, told The Guardian that regular coffee consumption may have protective benefits against alcoholic cirrhosis, “and the more coffee a person consumes the less risk they seem to have of being hospitalized or dying of alcoholic cirrhosis.”
In addition, some research has demonstrated that java can stave off the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). An international team of medical researchers led by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School demonstrated that drinking four or more cups of coffee or tea a day may be beneficial in preventing the progression of NAFLD.
Coffee makes many people feel happier.
The National Institute of Health conducted studies indicating that people who drink four or more cups of coffee each day are at least 10% less likely to feel depressed than those who’ve never touched the stuff. And apparently it isn’t due to the “caffeine high” – soft drinks also give drinkers a caffeine high, but they are linked to depression. Study author, Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, explained to Prevention.com that the likely reason coffee produces an elevated mood is because of its dose of antioxidants.
Coffee consumption has been traced to lower levels of suicide.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health determined that drinking between 2 and 4 cups of coffee may lower the risk of suicide in men and women by nearly 50 percent. Again, the proposed reason is that coffee acts as a mild antidepressant by aiding in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline
Coffee might lower women’s skin cancer risk.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School studied 112,897 men and women for nearly 20 year and found that women who drink three or more cups of coffee per day are much less likely to develop skin cancer than those who don’t. (Although perhaps this is because they’re sitting in Starbucks rather than at the beach all day … or perhaps they just live in rainy Seattle).
Coffee enhances athletic performance.
The New York Times reports, “Scientists and many athletes have known for years, of course, that a cup of coffee before a workout jolts athletic performance, especially in endurance sports like distance running and cycling.” Caffeine increases the number of fatty acids in the bloodstream, which in turn help our muscles absorb and burn those fats for fuel, therefore saving the body’s small reserves of carbohydrates for later points in our exercise when we really need them.
Drinking coffee could help keep your brain healthier for longer
Scientists at the University of South Florida and the University of Miami have found that people over the age of 65 showing higher blood levels of caffeine developed Alzheimer’s disease two to four years later than others with lower caffeine. Dr. Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the USF, and co-author of the study, said, “We are not saying that moderate coffee consumption will completely protect people from Alzheimer’s disease. However, we firmly believe that moderate coffee consumption can appreciably reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s or delay its onset.”
Coffee may make you more intelligent.
This is good news even for those who already consider themselves to be in perfect health, coffee drinkers or no. Not only does coffee keep us awake when we’re sleep-deprived; that jolt of caffeine also makes us sharper. CNN reports that coffee allows your brain to work in a much more efficient and smarter way. TIME reporter, Michael Lemonick, says, “When you’re sleep-deprived and you take caffeine, pretty much anything you measure will improve: reaction time, vigilance, attention, logical reasoning — most of the complex functions you associate with intelligence.”
This research compilation brought to you by the coffee-lovers at Emery Reddy, who represent and assist both caffeine-enhanced and decaf workers in employment lawsuits, third party injury claims, workers’ compensation claims, and L&I claims.