I’m writing this week’s article in McDonalds of all places but before you label me a fraud I’m only in here to sample their fine coffee and wifi, two of the best things you can get from McDonalds in my opinion.
I was never a huge coffee drinker; I only started taking coffee a few years ago before I hit the gym to give me a caffeine lift. Now I might have one or two cups a day and when I meet up with friends or family for a coffee in town.
The coffee drinking culture has grown in recent years even in your local shop you will find a Barista Bar or Costa coffee machine. In the UK alone there are 70 million cups of coffee consumed per day, but is it good or bad for you?
There is research out there to support both sides of the argument but it seems to come down to the type, amount and when you consume your coffee that will have a positive or negative effect on your health.
Like anything if it is consumed in moderation, in this case four to five cups per day, then it may not have the negative side effects associated with caffeine – but you must remember what is moderate for one person may not be the same for someone else.
Let’s look at the positives to make us all feel a little better about our coffee habits.
COFFEE CAN MAKE YOU SMARTER
Coffee doesn’t just keep you awake, it may literally make you smarter as well. This is where the science comes into play.
Caffeine potently blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, leading to a net stimulant effect.
Controlled trials show that caffeine improves both mood and brain function. However, high doses of caffeine can produce anxiety and tremors.
COFFEE MAY DRASTICALLY LOWER YOUR RISK OF TYPE II DIABETES
Type II diabetes is a lifestyle-related disease that has reached epidemic proportions, having increased ten-fold in a few decades and now afflicting about 300 million people.
This disease is characterised by high blood glucose levels due to insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.
Drinking coffee is associated with a drastically reduced risk of Type II diabetes. People who drink several cups per day are the least likely to become diabetic.
COFFEE MAY BE EXTREMELY GOOD FOR YOUR LIVER
The liver is a remarkable organ that carries out hundreds of vital functions in the body.
Coffee appears to be protective against certain liver disorders, lowering the risk of liver cancer by 40 per-cent and cirrhosis by as much as 80 per-cent.
COFFEE MAY DECREASE YOUR RISK OF DYING
Many people still seem to think that coffee is unhealthy. Coffee consumption has been associated with a lower risk of death in prospective epidemiological studies, especially in Type II diabetics.
COFFEE IS LOADED WITH NUTRIENTS AND ANTIOXIDANTS
Coffee isn’t just black water. Many of the nutrients in the coffee beans do make it into the final drink, which actually contains a decent amount of vitamins and minerals. It is also the biggest source of antioxidants in the modern diet.
COFFEE CAN HELP YOU BURN FAT AND IMPROVES PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE
There’s a good reason why you will find caffeine in most commercial fat burning supplements like the Herbalifie Herbal Tea. Caffeine raises the metabolic rate and helps to mobilise fatty acids from the fat tissues. It can also enhance physical performance.
If using caffeine to increase performance, try consuming it 30 to 60 minutes before the event/exercise.
Blood levels of caffeine are maximised about 60 minutes after consumption, but effects are noticed by 30 minutes.
Personally I like to take my herbal tea 30 minutes before competition but experiment with it – if you haven’t experimented with caffeine try it out before training to be safe.
If you are a competing athlete try to use caffeine when you actually ‘need it’. Repeated caffeine consumption can create a tolerance and lessen the benefit.
Three to five mg of caffeine per kilogram of bodyweight can provide a performance effect without health risks. At three mg/kg, an 80 kg person would need 240 mg of caffeine (a large black coffee)
I will just leave you with a word of caution – the caffeine limits in this article are based on what the latest research tells us and should be used as a general guide.
There are just too many variations in the human population to determine a safe limit for caffeine use in all people.
Caffeine should be treated as any other drug and used with caution until a person understands how it interacts with his/her particular genetic make-up and health profile.
It’s also important to understand that a person’s safe limit of caffeine can change over time as a person’s health evolves over his/her lifetime.
So when you’re having a coffee make sure you enjoy it and the company you’re in, after all good company makes the coffee taste even better.