I love my coffee. It’s such a big part of my life that I often take for granted. From the sound and smell of a freshly brewed coffee pot in the morning, to people chatting about their daily lives in a coffee shop, to that moment when I raise that hot cup of coffee and taste java, I love the entire experience.
With all of the coffee I drink in a day (about 4 cups), I had to wonder if it was actually helping me in ways I didn’t even realize. Of course, we’re all different and have different reactions to coffee, but I wanted to know if coffee actually had benefits other than jump-starting our morning and keeping us awake. There are many health benefits to drinking coffee, but some of these reasons to drink coffee might surprise you.
1. Coffee can help you build positive habits.
We often hear about people who say they are addicted to caffeine and have developed bad habits around drinking coffee. In my experience, coffee can actually be used as a reward for building up positive habits.
One powerful habit that is beneficial to me is my morning routine. I tested out some ways to get up earlier, and the one thing that always motivated me to get up and get going was my morning coffee. So, I set up a reward system for getting up to meditate, shower, and eat breakfast. When I did all these three things, a nice cup of coffee was my reward. If you prefer other types of coffee, try making your favorite espresso drink, buying iced coffee packets, or simply purchase an automated coffee pot.
2. Coffee can help you live longer.
Several studies have shown that people who drink coffee live longer. It turns out that coffee has hundreds of other compounds besides caffeine. Many of these compounds are antioxidants, which prevent oxidation in the body by blocking free radicals. Antioxidants are believed to slow the aging process, as well as fight off cancer and heart disease.
Even more good news: the magic number of coffee drinks (8 ounces) per day is between four and five. Any more than that, didn’t seem to make any difference.
3. Coffee can help you nap.
Say whaaaat? Yes, it’s true. Ever heard of a coffee nap? According to a Japanese study, the coffee nap is the most effective way to combat sleepiness and increase performance level.
Why does this work? The key is to take the nap immediately after consumption (before the caffeine kicks in), and it takes about 20 minutes for that caffeine to kick in. Napping helps to clear out a chemical called adenosine, which at increased levels, can cause fatigue. Then caffeine (an adenosine blocker) swoops in just in time. In my experience, the coffee nap is the best way to combat that afternoon slump.
4. Coffee can help your liver.
An interesting new study shows that drinking two cups of coffee per day can decrease your chances of getting alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver by as much as 43 percent.
Why is that? Researches aren’t 100 percent sure yet, but suspect it has to do with coffee’s antioxidant or anti-inflammatory compounds. This is not to suggest we should all now safely consume more and more alcohol, but it does show that coffee can help counter the effects of toxins in the liver.
It will be interesting to see if certain compounds in coffee will be used to protect the liver or other vital organs.
5. Coffee can be relaxing.
Coffee affects people in all different ways. For some, it can cause people with anxiety to become ever more anxious. Or, it can cause some people to get the jitters, but it doesn’t affect everyone this way.
According to best-selling author Dr. Sanjiv Chopra, coffee can be relaxing for some people. Not only can some people drink coffee at any time of day with no physical effects, many also find the ritual of drinking coffee relaxing: the hot coffee, the smell, the taste. It can become a deeply ritualistic and relaxing experience.
If you coffee does affect you negatively, you may try tea instead for a similar effect. But for some, coffee provides unique relaxing benefits counterintuitive to what one would think.
Coffee is now the number one consumed beverage worldwide. All this coffee consumption has hidden benefits that many of us don’t even realize. There are even more reasons why drinking coffee is beneficial to our well being. So the next time you brew your favorite cup of coffee, remember these five counterintuitive reasons to love your coffee.
Featured photo credit: Victor Hanacek via picjumbo.com