Few things in life are as satisfying as that first sip of coffee on waking up or the aroma of freshly ground beans when you're in danger of dozing off after a generous meal.
So why does drinking coffee make our senses feel so alive? That's because it contains caffeine - a stimulant that blocks adenosine (which makes you feel sleepy), leading to a rise in livelier neurotransmitters. Several controlled studies have concluded that coffee actually improves brain function - so you may certainly experience increased productivity after a steaming hot cuppa.
Now we all know that anything is excess is usually bad for us. But four cups of coffee a day could work magic on your system in a number of ways. Here's how:
1. Coffee can help you lose weight.
Caffeine speeds up the metabolism and helps burn fat. Also, you may notice diminished appetite after a cup of coffee. Of course, don't have it just before meals.
2. Coffee can counter depression.
More than one study has concluded that drinking four or more cups of coffee a day can guard against depression. Regular coffee drinkers are also less likely to commit suicide.
3. Coffee helps you perform better in sports.
Caffeine spikes the levels of epinephrine, better known as adrenaline or the fight-or-flight hormone, in the blood. It also encourages the fat cells in the body to break down body fat. This then gets released into the bloodstream and fuels whatever physical activity you're pursuing - be it a sport or an hour at the gym. So sip away before you head to the court for a game of tennis.
4. Coffee drinkers are at reduced risk of developing Type II diabetes.
Type II diabetes affects around 300 million people across the world. But coffee may act as a shield, with studies concluding 23-67% lower chance of developing this disease among regular coffee drinkers.
5. Alzheimer's, Dementia and Parkinson's Disease have a significantly lower chance of affecting coffee drinkers.
Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease are the leading neurodegenerative diseases in the world and both have no cure. The good news is that coffee offers significant protection against both. The beverage has also proven effective in preventing dementia.
6. Coffee may protect against cirrhosis.
According to one study, folks who down four or more cups of coffee a day have an 80% lower risk of developing cirrhosis, a condition that usually affects the liver. So to enjoy this benefit, you have to be a dedicated coffee drinker!
7. Coffee may lower the risk of stroke.
Drinking coffee lets you get away with 20% reduced chance of suffering stroke.
8. Coffee reduces the risk of developing liver and colorectal cancer.
Studies have shown that coffee drinkers have a much lower chance of developing liver or colorectal cancer. As per worldwide statistics, they are the third and fourth leading reasons for cancer deaths respectively.
A note of warning: In some people, coffee can raise blood pressure. Although this isn't the case with habitual drinkers, do take care if you see spikes in blood pressure after drinking coffee. However, be rest assured - it's a myth that coffee raises the risk of heart attacks.
Finally, let's not forget that coffee beans are rich in riboflavin, pantothenic acid, manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin. And all these nutrients are present in a tasty cup of coffee as well. So don't hesitate to brew yourself a strong cup of this potent drink.