Americans LOVE their coffee.
It’s estimated that eighty percent of all adults drink caffeine on a daily basis and of those, over half are taking it in coffee.
Coffee has been studied probably more than any other beverage in recent years and the majority of conclusions are positive.
A healthy stimulant
Coffee improves memory, combats diabetes, contains antioxidants, and of course, increases our energy. Most people don’t realize that coffee reduces the risk of liver, oral, and skin cancers, and neurodegenerative disease:
“The findings of the previous studies are somewhat inconsistent, but most studies (3 out of 5) support coffee’s favorable effects against cognitive decline, dementia or AD. In addition, two studies had combined coffee and tea drinking and indicated some positive effects on cognitive functioning. For tea drinking, protective effects against cognitive decline/dementia are still less evident. In the CAIDE [current] study, coffee drinking of 3-5 cups per day at midlife was associated with a decreased risk of dementia/AD by about 65% at late-life.”
People drink coffee because it tastes good and provides a legal buzz that makes the morning zip by.
Get the most zip from your cuppa
If you want to get the most out of your (first) morning coffee, you may want to wait a little bit before you drink it. When you wake up, a hormone called cortisol (the “stress hormone”) that’s created by the adrenal glands kicks into gear to get all your systems functioning. You naturally get an energy boost.
By drinking caffeine first thing, you feed your energy level when it’s already revving up. If you wait ninety minutes to a couple of hours after you get up, your timing will jibe with your body’s natural energy flow and turn it up just as it starts to flag.
If you wake up at 7:00, let’s say, waiting until at least 8:30 before you drink any caffeinated beverage will get the most out of it, energy-wise. Caffeine works by blocking energy regulators called adenosine that tell your body you’re becoming fatigued.
Adenosine builds up during the day as you expend energy until melatonin is released as it gets dark outside to tell your body it’s getting time to wind down and go to sleep. By blocking adenosine, your brain doesn’t feel tired. Zippa-dee-doo-dah!
There’s a time for everything
The best time for caffeine is then mid-morning, between when you awaken and when you eat lunch to keep energy levels even. If you drink an afternoon cup, too, the same reasoning holds: about half-way between lunch and dinner. Watch that second cup, however: studies have shown that drinking coffee less than 6 hours before bed can interfere with your sleep.
Given our love of caffeine, there are some downsides to drinking it regularly: it can affect our sleep, is addictive, and can affect moods.
It’s all about moderation.