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20 Wonderful Health Benefits Of Coffee

20 Wonderful Health Benefits Of Coffee

You might not know this but I’m a bit of a coffee addict (and that’s putting it lightly). Therefore, I literally jumped at the chance to write an article highlighting all of the awesome things that coffee can do for you health.

It seems like every day or so there’s a new report on the news granting some new magical property to coffee, and thus is can be a bit difficult to keep track of all of them. Therefore, I am going to lay out a bunch of the most significant ones in this list. That way, you’ll be able to save this link and have easy access to a list of coffee health benefits whenever you need it! (It should be especially handy during those times when you have to convince folks that it’s totally reasonable to be on your third cup of coffee before noon)/

Before we begin, stow away all of those preconceived negative notions you have towards the coffee bean. Trust me, it won’t stunt your growth or anything like that. If anything, after reading this you’ll be wishing that you started drinking coffee earlier!

To start, coffee is great because…

1. It could lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

You might think that coffee harms your heart more than it helps it, especially since your heart beats a bit faster when you’re hyped up on caffeine. The truth, however, is that drinking three to five cups of coffee a day reduces your chances of acquiring heart disease.

And, even if you drink more than five cups a day, you’re chances of having a heart attack are no higher than those who don’t consume coffee at all.

2. It bolsters your brain cells.

As a stimulant, coffee enables your brain to produce more dopamine and adrenaline than usual.

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This can have a number of positive effects, such as improving your memory and reaction times. In college, I remember hating morning tests…until I started guzzling down a cup of coffee before going to class. While under the effects of caffeine, my test scores improved measurably. It puts the pep in your step you need to get going.

3. It negates the effects of sleep deprivation.

This one might seem obvious, but you might be surprised by just how powerful of an effect coffee can have on a drowsy individual. Indeed, it’s so effective that the mere smell of coffee beans is enough to give most folks a slight energy boost.

4. It adds years to your life.

There are some well-documented side effects to coffee consumption that keep many from trying it. These can include anything from the “jitters” to the headaches we coffee connoisseurs get when we don’t get our caffeine fix.

That said, research out of Harvard has found that those who stay caffeinated could live longer lives than those who abstain from it. The study also concluded that the dreaded side effects of frequent coffee consumption have inconsequential effects on the body in the long run. So sip away!

5. It decreases your chance of having a stroke.

Similar to heart disease, consuming two to six cups of coffee a day has been found to lower one’s risk of having a stroke. You don’t have anything to lose!

6. It makes you run faster.

Simply put, drinking coffee before a workout allows your muscles to better convert your fat to fuel, meaning you’ll feel more energized. Personally, I’ve noticed that I can run about a mile more than usual when I drink coffee about an hour before starting my workout routine.

7. It helps you burn fat.

Let’s face it: it’s summer, so we all want to look good in a bathing suit. What better way to do that than to shed a couple pounds? Coffee can help you reach your weight loss goals, as seen by a study where green coffee extract was found to be a significant factor in assisting several “pre-obesity” test subjects reach a normal weight.

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8. It substantially lowers your risk for type II diabetes.

With our increased consumption of sugary products over the years, we’ve seen the number of cases of diabetes skyrocket. Luckily, you might be able to protect yourself by drinking a few cups of unsweetened coffee a day.

Indeed, studies have found that coffee consumption greatly reduces one’s risk of acquiring type II diabetes. For every cup of coffee a day that test subjects consumed, researchers found that their chances of getting diabetes went down by 7%. (If you currently sweeten your coffee a lot, simply start with just a little less sugar per day and work your way down).

9. It fortifies your mind against diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

While coffee certainly has short-term mental benefits, it might also prove to be great for your brain in the long run as well.

Indeed, frequent coffee consumption has been shown to greatly lower the risk of acquiring degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.

So if you’re wondering why your great-grandmother is still sharp as a tack, ask her if she’s a coffee drinker!

10. It can replace your daily facial scrub.

Ok, so maybe it won’t replace it entirely, but coffee grounds do in fact work extremely well as an exfoliant. By mixing fresh or used coffee grounds with coconut or olive oil, you can create a paste that works similarly to most store brand facial cleansers. You’ll smell great afterwards too!

11. It drastically improves the quality of your naps.

I wrote all about “coffee naps” in a previous article, so check that out if you want an in-depth rundown of what that entails. To put it succinctly, drinking a cup of coffee right before a nap will make you feel much more energized afterwards compared to if you took a nap without drinking coffee beforehand.

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It might sound counter-intuitive, but trust me, it works!

12. It can hold off Father Time.

Not only can coffee be used to make you look younger, but it can make you feelyounger as well. Indeed, scientists have discovered that consumption of coffee helps your body fight off all of the typical effects of growing old, such as declining reflexes and deteriorating memory.

13. It makes your hair shine.

Interestingly enough, coffee grounds can make your hair appear shinier by exfoliating the individual hair strands, stripping away any grime or old hair-care product stuck on them. Just don’t do this if you have lightly colored hair…coffee can stain your locks if you aren’t careful!

14. It combats depression.

Coffee is so filled-to-the-brim with antioxidants and other chemicals (like caffeine of course) that it’s nearly impossible to get down on yourself while drinking the stuff. Indeed, the National Institute of Health found that people who drink four or more cups a day are 10% less likely to become afflicted by depression.

15. It does great things for your liver.

Maybe this is the reason people tell you to drink coffee when you have a hangover? Speculation aside, coffee has been found to decrease your chance of being afflicted by cirrhosis of the liver by up to 80%. Those who drink four or more cups of coffee a day were found to have the biggest defense against liver disease.

Not only can coffee combat the effects of alcohol on your liver, but it has also been found to reduce the risk of liver cancer by up to 40%.

16. It can make you more social.

When people drink a lot of alcohol at parties, they’re usually doing so to reduce their inhibitions, and thus be more open to social interaction. Well, I’ve found that coffee makes you just as talkative as alcohol, withoutall of the downsides associated with the latter. (Seriously, I’ll talk your ear off if you give me a good latte!) And in my mind, this is definitely something that benefits your health, because even an introverted person like me feels better when they’re able to more easily open up to friends and acquaintances!

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Oh and not to mention, most people get their coffee from a shop populated by a bunch of people, which is sure to lead to some nice random interactions.

17. It prevents eye disease.

Scientists have found that drinking coffee decreases one’s chance of experiencing vision loss and acquiring eye diseases like glaucoma, thanks to an extremely powerful antioxidant present in coffee.

So put the carrots aside…if you really want to protect your eyesight, grab a mug filled with coffee instead!

18. It shields you from skin cancer.

While you shouldn’t stop applying sunscreen or taking other precautions just because you drink coffee, you can also rest easier knowing that consuming your favorite caffeinated beverage daily reduces your risk of acquiring melanoma.

19. It makes your pains go away.

I’m not being metaphorical or anything. Coffee literally alleviates some of your physical pains, much like ibuprofen or other pain medications, as seen by this study. Seeing all of the other health benefits of drinking coffee listed above, it should come as no surprise that it’ll make your entire body will feel better as a result.

20. It simply makes every morning better.

Well, there really isn’t much more for me to say. Coffee just makes your mornings better! You now know that coffee has a bundle of health benefits, ranging from improving your intellect, to lowering your risk of acquiring a number of different diseases.

The last point I’ll touch upon is more intangible than the others, and comes from my personal experience of being something of a coffee addict. There’s just something about waking up, brewing a good cup of coffee, and enjoying the sunrise. While this feeling I get isn’t a measurable health benefit, per se, it is something that keeps me coming back to my favorite mug day after day. And, along with all of the other reasons listed here, it’s why I continue to be a dedicated member of club caffeine to this day! Would you care to join me?

Featured photo credit: Columbia Coffee/McKay Savage via flic.kr

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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