Seven wellness benefits of caffeine

steaming cup of black coffee sitting on bed of coffee beans

The jury has been going back and forth for years on whether coffee is actually good for you, but a study may have just provided the excuse you’re looking for to treat yourself to a flat white today (thanks, science).

Research by the universities of Southampton and Edinburgh, published in the British Medical Journal, found that drinking three or four cups of the delicious brown stuff every day could lower your chance of death by 17 per cent.

The large review of more than 200 previous investigations into coffee concluded that it is “more likely to benefit health than harm it”, after finding a lower risk of liver disease and some cancers in coffee drinkers.

Read: Coffees from around the world you can try at home

So if you can’t form whole sentences without drinking your coffee in the morning, here are seven reasons to keep sipping (in moderation).

1. It’s said to boost mental function
Do feel like you can concentrate better when you’ve had your first coffee of the day? Caffeine is known to improve cognitive function, particularly alertness and vigilance.

A meta study found that the optimal daily intake to boost both mental and physical performance, without causing dehydration or affecting sleep patterns, is 0.3 to four cups of brewed coffee. Of course, it varies though – four cups of coffee may affect some people’s sleep.

2. It ‘improves physical performance’
Ever noticed you run for the train that little bit faster when you’ve swigged an Americano with your breakfast? That’s probably because coffee can actually improve athletic performance. It does this by using several mechanisms, including mobilising fatty acids from your body’s fat tissues.

Coffee also stimulates the adrenaline levels in the blood – the ‘fight or flight’ hormone designed to make our bodies alert and ready for physical exertion.

That’s why caffeine can improve your fitness performance. A meta-analysis of 40 research papers found an increase of 12.3 per cent on average.

Read: Are you drinking your coffee too early?

3. It can make you happier
There aren’t just physical benefits to being a java junkie – it may help to brighten your mood too.

That post-latte buzz might feel temporary, but regular coffee consumption could make you happier in the long run. A study from the US found that women who drank two or more cups a day were 20 per cent less likely to become depressed. Why? Apparently, it’s all down to caffeine, which binds to neurotransmitter receptors associated with your mood.

4. It’s a source of nutrients
Coffee contains a number of nutrients, including vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B5 (pantothenic acid), which help with energy production.

Plus, a Norwegian study found that coffee was the biggest source of antioxidants in Western diets. Antioxidants help to neutralise harmful free radicals.

5. It may even protect your liver
A study of patients who developed cirrhosis of the liver, a condition caused by long-term liver disease, found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had up to 80 per cent less risk of developing the disease.

Caffeine alone wasn’t responsible for the effect, but the same correlation wasn’t found for tea drinkers.

6. Some studies have found it to lower the risk of certain cancers
Coffee may also protect the liver from cancer, with one research paper from Japan showing a 40 per cent lower risk of the disease.

Meanwhile, an American study comparing tea and coffee drinkers found that those who consumed four to five cups of coffee a day had a 15 per cent lower risk of developing colon cancer.

Read: Why are we still debating whether coffee is good or bad for us?

7. It may protect against Alzheimer’s disease in some cases
Researchers from the universities of South Florida and Miami found that people older than 65 who had higher blood levels of caffeine developed Alzheimer’s disease two to four years later than others with lower levels.

Dr Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the University of South Florida, 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.”

Do you drink coffee? How many cups do you have each day? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

– With PA

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Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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