4 Major Health Benefits of Caffeine
I’m sure you love your morning cup of joe. It’s warm and cozy, right? But why do so many of us actually drink it each and every day? It’s the stimulation. We want a little extra hand getting up in the morning, and we want that nice boosted energy to last throughout the workday.
But as it turns out, caffeine may be doing even more to help your body than just waking it up.
This natural stimulant goes from the gut to the bloodstream to the liver. It’s there that it gets broken down into smaller compounds that can be used by our organs for lots of different purposes.
90% of the adults in North America are already consuming a caffeinated product each day, so we might as well learn how it’s helping us out. Below, you’ll find the top 4 ways caffeine benefits our health.
1. Live Longer
Let’s start off with the big bang… caffeine may keep you from dying!
In 2015, researchers discovered that regularly drinking coffee could lower your risk of death by 8% to 15%.
They’ve also found it may lower suicide risk in adults for those who drink 2 to 4 cups a day. This could be due to the fact that it’s been shown to lower depression.
2. Boost Brain Function & Memory
Without a doubt, the #1 organ affected by caffeine is the brain. After all, caffeine is technically categorized as a “psychoactive drug” – meaning it affects the mind (interesting fact: both cocaine and meth are also in the same category!)
There’s a reason why many of us drink coffee before work. Think of your brain when you get out of bed and compare it to your brain after a few cups of coffee. All that caffeine is not just making you more “energetic” or “awake” (though those help your brain too). It turns out it may be actually improving cognition. Caffeine can:
- Make you more alert
- Improve accuracy
- Elevate your mood
- Strengthen memory
To understand the basics behind the way caffeine affects your brain, check out this quick TedEd video:
3. Improve Disease
Since caffeine stimulates the brain and the central nervous system, it can affect many areas of the body. Fortunately, some of that stimulating can actually help prevent disease.
- Cardiovascular Disease: For a long time, people thought caffeine could harm the heart, but now we’re seeing it can actually reduce the risk of heart disease as well as the risk of stroke
- Type 2 Diabetes: Multiple studies have shown that regular coffee consumption is directly connected to lowered risk – an overview of over 450,000 people that drink coffee found each cup is associated with about a 7% lowered risk of type 2 diabetes
- Parkinson’s Disease: Lots of studies have looked at this connection, and the improvement rates vary from 32% to 60% (decaf coffee doesn’t help, so it’s clearly the caffeine
- Alzheimer’s Disease: Studies have shown that regular coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease
- Uterine Cancer: Regular consumption could lower your risk
- Liver Cancer: Regular consumption could lower your risk
- Colorectal Cancer: Multiple cups of coffee each day could lower your risk
4. Increase Physical Performance
Not only does caffeine help ramp you up for a harder workout, but it also helps your body break down fat for extra fuel which can allow you to really pump through a good workout. In the same way, caffeine can stimulate the brain, it can also stimulate the body.
Caffeine has been known to improve:
- Endurance athletics
- Rate of fatigue
How to Take Caffeine
This may seem like a silly subject – you just need to drink coffee, right? Maybe. But you have other options too!
Option #1 Coffee
Coffee itself is filled with antioxidants, so it certainly isn’t a bad choice for adding up your caffeine content throughout the day. But if you’re prone to creamers and sweeteners, you’re adding calories and inflammatory sugar or harmful chemicals to your diet each day.
Option #2: Supplement
Another option is to supplement the caffeine.
You should consider partnering that caffeine supplement with the amino acid found in green tea, l-theanine. L-theanine is an incredible supplement that can help combat any of the negative side effects of the caffeine – like the jitters or anxious feelings.
Plus, studies have shown that when paired together, these two supplements “are beneficial for improving performance on cognitively demanding tasks.”
How Much Caffeine Is Just Right?
No matter which method you chose (or if you choose both), it is important to know how much you should be getting.
A dose of around 400 milligrams is considered safe for most healthy adults. That’s about 4 cups of coffee on average or 1 to 2 espressos.
If you’re choosing to take the caffeine supplement, be sure to watch your food and drink caffeine intake throughout the day so you don’t overdo it. Too much of a good thing is too much! If you start having too much more than 400 mg, you may deal with problems like anxiety, stomach issues, insomnia, etc.
Who Isn’t Benefiting from Caffeine?
Not everyone is able to soak up caffeine’s benefits during all stages of life. Here are a few groups of people who should avoid caffeine:
- Pregnant Women: Of course, pregnant women need to greatly reduce that 400 mg number, and they really shouldn’t be taking caffeine pills. 300 mg a day or more is definitely considered a risk. So you may want to focus on getting 0 mg of caffeine a day – but definitely try to stay under 150 mg. Talk to your doctor to find what’s best for you.
- Kids: Studies have shown that caffeine and kids don’t mix well by harming their blood pressure and heart rate. Interestingly, boys may be more affected than girls.
- Certain medical conditions: There are various health conditions – like acid reflux, glaucoma, epilepsy, etc. that may not respond well to caffeine. Just talk to your doctor to find out if it’s right for you.
Enjoying the Benefits of Caffeine
As you can see, there are many benefits of caffeine that go way beyond helping you get over your sleepiness and conquer your day (but let’s be honest – that’s a pretty nice benefit too!). As long as you are a healthy adult who is sleeping well at night, you shouldn’t be worried about healthy caffeine consumption – you should actually feel really great about it.
Read Next: Why Stress Negatively Affects Your Body & Drains Your Energy (& What You Can Do to Increase It)