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Last Updated on March 29, 2018

20 Health Benefits of Coffee (And How to Get the Maximum Benefits of It)

20 Health Benefits of Coffee (And How to Get the Maximum Benefits of It)

Coffee often gets a bad rap, based on everything ranging from its caffeine content to the stains it leaves on your teeth. But the truth is that the benefits to this beverage far outweigh many of the perceived negatives associated with it. What’s often overlooked is the fact that coffee is so much more than just caffeine.

In its original form, it’s a whole food that contains a plethora of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. The key is knowing where to find high-quality coffee and how to avoid losing any of its health benefits by decreasing its nutrient content or adding harmful substances, like artificial ingredients.

Let’s look at the amazing health benefits of coffee in this article.

Health benefits of coffee (that will also make you happier)

1. Help you burn more calories

In one Spanish study, athletes who drank the equivalent of 12 ounces of coffee before working out burned roughly 15% more calories for as much as three hours after exercising.[1]

Even if you don’t work out, drinking coffee has also been proven to boost your metabolism by 10 to 20%, for those who drink one to two cups per day. As a result, you can burn some calories (and even help you to lose weight if you’re on a diet and do exercises.)

2. Improve your circulation

Drinking a five ounce cup of coffee has been proven to cause a 30% boost in capillary blood flow according to a Japanese study.

This level of increased blood circulation results in better oxygenation of your body’s tissues which has a number of benefits, such as improved performance in physical activities.

3. Have a pain-reducing effect

Research from the University of Illinois determined that two to three cups of coffee can decrease participants’ perceived level of pain, in this case following a workout.

These findings were repeated in a University of Georgia study where participants reported a 48% decrease in muscle soreness, vs. 30% and 25% with naproxen and aspirin, respectively.

4. Improve your endurance

Not only can coffee decrease your perceived level of pain during physical exertion, it can also decrease your perceived level of exertion. By reducing the amount of energy you feel, you’re expending (by more than 5%), and your exercise actually feels easier.

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As a result, drinking coffee before working out can improve exercise performance by more than 11%, since you feel like you’re exerting less energy.

5. Help preserve your muscle tissue

When you drink coffee, your brain releases a substance called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which supports the powerhouse of your muscles. Without this essential factor, muscles are more likely to experience atrophy.

Essentially, the caffeine in coffee helps stave off age-related strength loss which can also reduce your risk of injuries.

6. Make you smarter

Caffeine in coffee induces feelings of alertness and increased energy as a result of its interactions with adenosine receptors in the brain.[2]

This causes an improvement in various areas of brain function such as reaction times, vigilance, and general cognitive function.

7. Improve your memory

Another important brain function supported by coffee consumption is enhanced memory.

Drinking two eight-ounce cups of coffee per day has been proven to improve long-term memory.[3]

8. Lower your risk for depression

Coffee has also been linked to a lower rate of depression, especially in women. Those who consume as many as four eight-ounce cups per day have been found to lower their depression risk by as much as 20%.

This lowered risk is due to the fact that coffee also has an impact on the production of brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.

9. Reduce your risk of some cancers

So far, coffee has been linked to a lowered risk for both liver and colorectal cancer, the world’s third and fourth most common cancers.

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Coffee drinkers appear to be at a 40% lower risk for liver cancer and a 15% lower risk of colorectal cancer if they drink four to five cups per day. Links have also been found between coffee drinkers and a lower risk of basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.

10. Reduce your risk for heart disease

Studies over the years have claimed that consuming caffeine can increase your blood pressure. While this is true, the effect has been determined to be quite small and generally only present in those who don’t drink coffee regularly. There is no study found to support the idea that coffee increases the risk of heart disease.

However, evidence shows that coffee can reduce the risk of heart diseases in some individuals, particularly in women. Coffee drinkers are also at a 20 percent lower risk of stroke.[4]

11. Protect your liver

In addition to preventing cancer of the liver, coffee has also been shown to prevent other common diseases affecting the liver, such as hepatitis and fatty liver disease.

Coffee can protect against cirrhosis of the liver, where the organ is majorly damaged by scar tissue, by as much as an 80% lower risk in people who drink four or more cups each day.

12. Helps to combat gout

Gout is a condition caused by an increase in uric acid in the blood. Men who drank four to five cups of coffee a day had a 40 percent lower relative risk of gout compared to men who didn’t drink coffee.[5]

Decaf coffee also modestly lowered gout risk

13. Help you obtain numerous nutrients and antioxidants

Coffee has been found to contain a tremendous amount of antioxidants. In fact, many people in Western culture get more antioxidants from coffee than they do from fruits and vegetables combined.

Other important ingredients include riboflavin (11% of the RDA), potassium (3%), magnesium and niacin (2% each). These amounts are increased if you drink more than one cup per day.

14. Lower your risk of type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes is an affliction that currently affects around 300 million people across the world. Coffee drinkers have the ability to reduce their risk with every cup of coffee they drink.

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Results from various studies seem to indicate around a 7% reduction in risk for every cup consumed, with the heaviest coffee drinkers lowering the risk by as much as 67%.[6]

15. Make you more energetic

This benefit seems pretty obvious. It’s the reason many people turn to their morning cup of coffee.

There’s no doubt coffee can give you that extra boost you need, especially when you’ve had insufficient sleep. This is due to the caffeine which acts as a stimulant that helps you feel more alert and focused. It also gives you a boost in energy and helps you keep going when you’re low on stamina.

You can even boost your productivity if you drink coffee strategically, here’s how: How to Drink Caffeine With Strategy to Boost Your Productivity

16. Lower your risk of Alzheimer’s

Studies at both the University of Miami and the University of South Florida have found a proven link between coffee consumption and a reduced risk in dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is one type.

In fact, those who consumed around three cups each day were also 65% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Coffee drinkers also have a lower risk, around 32 to 60%, of developing Parkinson’s disease, another top neurodegenerative disease.

17. Make you feel less stressed just by smelling coffee

Researchers at the Seoul National University found that sleep-deprived rats who were exposed to the scent of coffee experienced a decrease in brain proteins that cause stress.[7] It’s worth noting that this reduction in stress was tied specifically to stress resulting from sleep deprivation.

That’s a piece of good news for those who don’t prefer the taste of coffee.

18. Make you feel happier

Being happy is healthy, right? And for those who love coffee, there’s nothing better than that familiar warmth and taste that gets you going each morning, or any time of the day.

19. Help you live longer

While it’s uncertain in exactly what ways drinking coffee lowers your risk of death, there definitely seems to be a correlation.

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Research performed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) determined that people who drink three or more cups each day are at a 10% lower risk of death. Perhaps the most important ramification of this study is that drinking coffee does not seem to adversely affect your health, as earlier research seemed to indicate.

20. Promote sustainability

Recent years have seen the increasing popularity of fair trade coffee which protects small coffee farmers worldwide.

As fair trade organizations work to improve farmers’ rights and earning potential, they also promote social, economic, and environmental sustainability. They encourage shade-grown and organic coffee, part of what makes the beans grown in places like Costa Rica superior to those you might get from larger commercial distributors.

Any potential risks of drinking coffee?

There are a few important factors you should consider if you want to enjoy the benefits of coffee:

  • Since many of these benefits are directly linked to the caffeine in coffee, you won’t get the same perks from decaf. You can also decrease the health benefits by adding things like artificial sweeteners and creamers.
  • While coffee can certainly help you resist fatigue, drinking it in excess can lead to adrenal exhaustion.
  • Coffee is also a diuretic. Drinking too much of it can result in dehydration.

As you can see in the following infographic, coffee can be both an angel and evil. If you’re not drinking too much of it, it can cause negative results:[8]

    You can find out more about the side-effects of drinking too much coffee in this article: What Drinking Coffee Does to You

    How to get the maximum benefit from coffee?

    To get the maximum benefit from your coffee, opt for whole coffee beans and grind them right before you’re ready to brew your coffee. Black coffee is recommended if you want to experience more of the benefits.

    You’ll also want to go with organic coffee beans since those that aren’t pesticide-free are often among the most heavily-sprayed crops in existence.

    The best way to find beans that are free of chemicals is to look for the 100% Organic seal or visit a local coffee farm and buy them directly from the grower. Your taste buds and your health will thank you.

    Featured photo credit: Kaboompics via kaboompics.com

    Reference

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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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