Throughout history, coffee has been a very important social and productive stimulant. People have been drinking coffee before work for centuries, as they quickly picked up on the positive effects on their focus and wakefulness. While this is part of the charm of drinking coffee, we’ve since figured out that there’s a lot more to our friend caffeine than previously thought. It has quite a few effects on our brains, and a couple ways that it affects our bodies.
There are a bunch of benefits that come from drinking coffee on a regular basis that people don’t know about. Everything from productivity to general satisfaction is a part of our daily consumption of caffeine. It’s hard to keep track of them all, but there are a few that are worth taking note of. Here are some examples of ways that drinking coffee affects us, as long as we drink it right.
How does coffee work?
We all know coffee as the miracle drink that keeps us awake and focused throughout the day, but how does it work, exactly? People often know very little about the coffee they’re drinking every day. Which part of coffee gives it that specific punch that jolts us awake? The obvious answer would be caffeine, as it’s the main ingredient, but that’s not the whole story. Lots of other drinks, like tea, contain caffeine, but they aren’t quite as strong. Coffee is as rich as its taste, and it contains quite a few substances that give it that specific touch that we love so much.
When coffee gets absorbed by our bodies, the caffeine molecule enters the bloodstream whole, but it doesn’t stay that way. Once it enters the liver, it gets broken down into three distinct molecules: theobromine, paraxanthine, and theophylline. Together, with the original caffeine molecule, they enter the brain and stimulate the flow of nutrients. This gets the brain active and boosts your focus and athleticism for a short time.
A cup a day boosts cognition
You might have noticed that whenever you’re drowsy and tired, your memory and focus seem hazy. After a cup or two of coffee, you start getting back to normal and your mind is back on track. This isn’t just coffee jolting you and returning you to the baseline either. Coffee actually boosts your cognitive functions and improves them significantly.
It’s not just a one-time effect, either. Coffee has been shown to improve cognitive function on a regular basis. As you drink coffee, you’re able to sustain your attention for longer periods of time, and your working memory improves. This is something that’s very desirable for work and study, but it’s also great for older folk. As you get older, you find that memory gets a bit hazy and attention spans suffer. It’s theorized that coffee could help keep our brains more active as we age, offsetting the aging process, albeit only slightly. Drinking it keeps productivity up, so it’s a win either way.
Caffeine offsets fatigue
One of the most familiar effects of drinking coffee is that it keeps you awake. Whenever you wake up drowsy and fatigued, getting coffee in your system revives you pretty quickly. It’s no wonder that people like drinking coffee first thing in the morning. Being tired while you go to work or head to school isn’t pleasant. You can’t focus and you’re a lot less alert than you could be.
Coffee also improves your mood slightly. Drinking it releases a hormone called dopamine, which is known as the “feel-good” hormone. This helps stabilize your emotions and keeps you from being moody. With a better emotional state, you can get more work done without anything clouding your mind.
It comes with health benefits galore
Coffee doesn’t just affect your mind, either. The various substances and metabolites that come from drinking coffee also affect your body in different ways. It can provide quite a few health benefits from time to time, as long as you drink it right.
Caffeine actually helps reduce inflammation throughout the body. This can serve as quick pain-relief for many inflammatory diseases. It’s not something that will act as a cure, but it will delay the pain and make you feel better.
Interestingly, coffee has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The exact mechanism is unknown, but it has to do with sugar regulation and how coffee stimulates our body. Of course, this depends on how you drink it. It would stand to reason that drinking coffee with lots of sugar wouldn’t be as effective at reducing diabetes risk. Black coffee might be the better option for taking advantage of this benefit.
There can be potential sleep issues
One of the most major benefits of coffee is also one of its biggest drawbacks. Coffee does keep you awake, but there are periods during the day where you don’t really need this effect. For most of us, this is at night. However, it’s not uncommon for people to drink coffee well into the night to help them stay awake. Sometimes, it’s to finish up work, while other times, the caffeine helps them prepare for an important exam.
We’ve all been in this situation, and it’s not necessarily harmful. It becomes an issue if you let it become part of your routine. If you find yourself staying wide awake at night and sipping coffee just to stay productive, you’re going to mess up your sleep schedule. Drinking coffee about eight hours before bedtime can disrupt your sleep and make it less potent. This will only leave you tired the next day, which will force you to drink more coffee. As you might have even more work to do, coffee will be your solution to drowsiness later on. This turns into a vicious cycle that ruins your sleep and keeps you tired for long periods. Drinking coffee responsibly and avoiding it deep into the night would help prevent this.
Caffeine boosts physical performance
While coffee is often hailed as a mental stimulant, it’s also quite a bit of a physical stimulant as well. It’s something you’ve probably noticed if you’ve had a few cups too many during your day. You start getting jittery and have the need to move around a bit. This might not be great for when you’re stuck at the office or in a lecture, but it’s most certainly great when you need to get your sports groove on.
Endurance sports benefit from coffee more than any other type. Not only does coffee get you moving at a solid pace, but it also provides other physical benefits. Your heart rate goes up slightly, giving your whole body more oxygenation. This preps your muscles for some extra work. The coffee will improve your warm-up and produce better results as you go on.
Caffeine also helps muscles relax
Speaking of athletic benefits, coffee also works for your post-workout needs. After you’re done with your exercises, you’re probably going to be pretty sore. This is where caffeine could come in handy. The reason your muscles hurt is that they’re inflamed from the workout. The notable anti-inflammatory effects of caffeine reduce this pain and help your muscles recover from the workout.
Your muscles also require extra sugar stores to recover, as workouts drain them completely. The good news is that caffeine also seemingly has a solution for this as well. It helps form glycogen in the muscles, which is then stored for later use. As the muscle recovers, it uses the glycogen up for energy and repairs.
It stimulates neurotransmitters
While we did mention dopamine a while back, this isn’t the only hormone released by drinking coffee. Caffeine can also stimulate the production and release of serotonin and noradrenaline, which are crucial for several different cognitive functions. So, what does this mean for our bodies when we drink it?
Well, the hormones released regulate different functions. Serotonin is the hormone of happiness, which is particularly useful for offsetting depression. While coffee might not be able to cure depression on its own, it can slightly mitigate the effects or reduce the risk of it developing. Noradrenaline stimulates our sympathetic nervous system and has a wide variety of effects. It improves focus, memory retention, and the processing of sensory inputs, among other things.
Decision-making is improved
As we’ve established, coffee drastically improves cognitive functions. You’re able to focus better and retain memory, while also staying in high-alert. This isn’t just great for working long periods of time, it can also help you when you need to make quick decisions.
Have you ever wondered why seemingly every workplace has automatic office coffee machines? It’s not just to provide a luxury for the employees. It’s a strategic move that helps improve productivity and decision-making. When employees are drowsy and tired, they can’t get all their work done efficiently.
Making an important decision requires that you’re fully alert and ready to tackle a problem. This is why coffee is so important in the workplace. Getting a quick cup of joe during the workday will enhance the working experience and produce even better results.
It builds routine
If you have a daily ritual of drinking coffee at certain points in the day, you’ve probably noticed that it makes you feel better. Even before you take your first sip, you can basically already feel the effects of the caffeine. That’s your brain anticipating the effects of the caffeine because you’ve established a regular routine.
This can have quite a few benefits for your schedule. You know that you’ll drink coffee and get right to work when you start your day, and this routine improves your productivity. Similarly, the act of drinking coffee prepares you for productive work, whether it’s studying or working on a project. This kind of routine provides you with stability throughout your week. You can kickstart your alertness with a cup, so that’s probably the method you use when you’re facing lots of work.
Overdoing it isn’t fun
Coffee is definitely a tool worth using in everyday life, but it’s not something you want to overdo. If the problems with sleep weren’t enough, coffee can also leave you fatigued when you overdo it during the day. It’s not a magic potion that will increase your productivity the more you drink it.
We normally don’t feel too much of the side-effects of coffee. In fact, there aren’t really any notable side-effects when you drink it in moderation. The problem arises when you overdo your coffee drinking. You start to feel even more fatigued than when you started. Your heart rate goes up and you get a little too jittery. This isn’t exactly pleasant, nor does it help you complete your daily tasks. It’s a pretty common situation, as people often use coffee as a crutch for when they’re tired or unproductive.
This isn’t a problem coffee can solve indefinitely, and more coffee won’t do the trick. Sleep and hydration are equally important for keeping you awake and alert, while coffee just acts like a small boost when you really need it. Don’t overdo it and you’ll feel more of the positive effects whenever you choose to drink it.
There’s seemingly no shortage of effects that coffee has on us. Some of these effects are positive, while others we want to avoid entirely. With all this in mind, it’s hard to argue against drinking a bit of coffee on a daily basis. With all the ways that it positively affects our mental and physical state, people should be drinking coffee all over the world right now. Since this is the case, it’s obvious that the world has caught on to the coffee craze and utilized it well.
If people knew about the other positive effects, perhaps coffee would be even more popular. Either way, it’s great that coffee is a part of our daily lives, as it’s a boon to our mental and physical well-being. At least, it is when we don’t drink a little too much of it.