Many of us indulge in at least one cup of coffee per day. It’’s like a magic potion that wakes up our brains and helps us to focus. An interesting fact about coffee is that its magical energizing properties were first found because of goats.
It was an Ethiopian shepherd who noticed that when his goats ate the leaves of the cocoa plants, they had more energy. So essentially, you can thank goats for the fact that you’re able to keep yourself awake to work. But recent studies seem to indicate that your daily cup of coffee might just be fabulous for your longevity.
What is coffee?
If you drink coffee to help you stay awake, you aren’t alone. According to the Mayo Clinic, millions of people worldwide rely on coffee to stay alert and improve their concentration. Though we don’t think of caffeine as a drug, it is addictive.
So, though you may feel like what you need is your daily cup of joe, actually what you’re actually craving is the caffeine that it contains. If you feel like you ‘need’ your morning coffee in order to function normally, it’s likely more reliance as opposed to an actual addiction. However, when we drink coffee daily, we build up resistance to the caffeine and, long term, become dependent on it.
According to the Addiction Centre, more than 90% of adults in the U.S. regularly consume an average of 200mg [or more] of caffeine per day.
It’s full of antioxidants
But why is this important? Well, antioxidants are good because they reduce the negative effects of oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress can lead to the onset of some nasty diseases, such as cancer. It’s also a major cause of premature aging.
It also contains polyphenols, which are the most potent antioxidants and are most commonly found in fruits, vegetables, coffee, and tea. CGA polyphenols can prevent the growth of tumors and even prevent them (at least to some extent) from spreading. This is achieved by limiting the production of blood vessels that commonly feed tumors.
CGA polyphenols also promote the destruction of cancerous cells. They have been found to be highly beneficial in protecting against cancers. CGA offers protection against “oral, esophageal, gastric, colorectal, and liver cancer by suppressing tumor growth”.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that coffee is better than any other food group when it comes to providing these antioxidant properties. It does mean that people who tend to drink more coffee will naturally contribute positively to a healthy antioxidant level. This is of course only true when combined with a healthy, balanced diet.
People who drink more coffee appear to be less likely to die of disease
Several studies seem to show that the regular consumption of coffee is linked to “a lower risk of dying from various serious diseases”.
A 2012 study on coffee consumption that included 402,260 people aged 50–71, found that, on average, those that drank more coffee were significantly less likely to die during the course of the 12-year study period.
But as with many things, there is a ‘sweet spot’. It seems, based on the studies, that an intake of “4 to 5 cups a day” was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of early death. Around 4 to 5 cups, both men and women had between a 12% and 16% reduced risk of early death. It’s also worth noting that any more than that provided no obvious additional benefits.
But there’s no way I can drink that much
If you’re currently reading this wondering how on earth you might drink that much coffee, don’t worry. As it turns out, even moderate consumption (as little as a cup a day) can help. Drinking just one cup of coffee a day is associated with a 5–6% lowered risk of early death. Which is still pretty impressive.
What could my coffee habit do for me?
Well besides its antioxidant benefits and association with a lower rate of early death, coffee drinkers were also found to be “less likely to die from infections, injuries, accidents, respiratory disease, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease”.
More recent studies on the popular beverage appear to support this. It does need to be said that these are, at least largely, observational studies. This means that it cannot be proven beyond doubt that it was the coffee itself that caused the reduction in risk. At the very least, though, it seems that your coffee habit is likely good for you. So, when you make your next cup, you needn’t feel guilty.
But how would I know if I’ve had too much of a good thing?
Drinking too much coffee over a short amount of time can have some pretty nasty side effects, including:
- Upset stomach
- Fast heartbeat
If you experience any of these symptoms after drinking only a small amount of coffee, you may be caffeine sensitive. But can you die from a caffeine overdose? Well, theoretically yes. However, it’s almost impossible to die from caffeine alone. You’d have to drink more than 100 cups, which is equivalent to 23.7 liters, in a single day.
So, essentially, if you keep your coffee intake well under 100 cups, you’ll be okay, That being said, there are a few rare cases of people dying from a caffeine overdose, but in all of these cases, caffeine supplements were involved.