Coffee has become a routine beverage in American lives. Many have hailed it as the motor oil that greases the engine of our economy, while others have pointed to the over caffeinated state of our society. So where are we with coffee and what should we make of it?
Well, the average American consumes 3 cups of coffee per day. Wow! And another third consume coffee occasionally, making America one of the leading countries in the world for coffee consumption.
Coffee is derived from coffee seeds, so it is “natural.” But what are the benefits, and what is too much? Here’s the scoop:
Coffee is filled with antioxidants. Antioxidants are great for your health, as well as fighting inflammation, which is a primary cause for arthritis, cancer, and more.
Coffee can boost your mood. Many of us can attest to this, and research does show that coffee consumption can lead to a decrease in depression-like symptoms.
Coffee improves your mental performance. This is probably why many of us drink it in the first place. But that initial focus you get when you consume coffee is real indeed, and helps you get through your day in a productive manner.
What are some of the issues with coffee? Well, the way the caffeine in coffee works is by blocking the receptors in your brain responsible for sleep. The adenosine molecules in your body would normally bind to it to signal sleep, but with caffeine, they can’t get to it. So the caffeine in coffee is a potent inhibitor of sleep, which can be good or bad. If you consume caffeine later in the day, it can impact your ability to sleep, and for quite a while. With a half-life of 5-7 hours, that means a morning cup of coffee will still have about 10-20% of the caffeine in your body at nighttime. An afternoon cup will give you about 50% of your caffeine amount at nighttime, making it much harder to sleep.
Each person is different, so learn how your body works. If you have trouble sleeping, shift your caffeine consumption (from all sources, not just coffee) to the mornings and cut out any consumption of it after lunch. You can also try decaf, which does have some caffeine in it still, but much less. You can also try alternatives such as green tea, which does have most of the benefits and with less caffeine in it.
Drink and be merry!