Many of us enjoy caffeine as something of a guilty pleasure.
We tend to feel as though it’s a beverage that is probably doing us some harm, even though we can’t quite put our finger on why…
Well, it’s true that caffeine isn’t perfect. It is addictive, and when taken too close to bedtime, it can also harm our sleep.
But the good news is that caffeine also comes with a plethora of health benefits.
So many in fact, that you can probably put caffeine in the “good for you” column overall, and stop feeling guilty about that Americano!
Here are 11 amazing things caffeine does for you.
Yep, caffeine is an antioxidant, which means that it helps to protect your cells against the damaging effects of free radicals. While this actually has a number of benefits, the most important is that it helps to combat cancer. That’s because it prevents damage to the cells that can eventually lead to DNA damage!
2. Improves Memory
Caffeine has been shown to help improve memory in the long and short term. This might be a combination of greater attentiveness and focus which helps us absorb more information to begin with, along with greater memory storage perhaps enhanced by increased dopamine production and plasticity. The result is that with some caffeine flowing through your system, you can learn more, more quickly!
Just make sure not to use all that caffeine at the expense of good sleep seeing as this is when we actually do the most learning.
3. Improves Focus
Caffeine helps to improve our focus and attention. This is extremely important in many walks of life and can even be life-saving. The most important example is when driving: if you are very sleep deprived when in charge of a vehicle, then you will significantly increase your chances of having a serious accident (to a level comparable to drinking alcohol).
Drinking caffeine is one way to undo some of this damage, and to help get back your focus and attention. Caffeine is also useful if you’re the “highly distracted” type.
4. Combats Tiredness
That focus is in part the absence of tiredness. Caffeine’s main “trick” for many of us, is to help us work longer hours and to wake up in the morning when we’re still feeling the effects of sleep inertia (that groggy feeling you get after just waking up!).
Caffeine fights tiredness by blocking a substance in the brain called adenosine. Adenosine is produced as a byproduct of the energy processes that go on inside the brain and body, and as it builds up, it reduces brain function. Because caffeine reduces the action of adenosine, it helps us to feel more awake AND focused.
5. Prevents Hair Loss
Caffeine is great in your hot beverages and workout supplements, but it isn’t just for drinking and eating! You can also apply caffeine to your skin, and particularly on your scalp where some research seems to support the notion that it can stimulate the growth of hair. This is why you’ll find caffeine in nearly all hair loss products!
6. Fights Dementia
By improving memory and focus, caffeine can make you “smarter” on some measures. But it doesn’t just boost brain function in the short term: it might also protect it in the long-term by fighting against the deleterious effects of aging and conditions such as dementia.
7. Increases Physical Strength
As I mentioned a moment ago in passing, caffeine is also found in high quantities in many a workout supplement. That’s because caffeine has been shown to improve muscular strength, thereby improving workouts!
8. Raises Metabolism
Caffeine will increase your heartrate and metabolism, putting you into a more catabolic state. For those interested in losing weight, this is very good news indeed. As such, weight loss supplements also tend to come packed to the brim with caffeine!
9. Increases Gene Expression
Gene expression describes the ability of your body to make changes to your genetic code by “blocking” the actions of some genes in your DNA.
This can partially explain the positive effects of exercise, meditation, and even learning. Perhaps more exciting still, is that gene expression is something you pass down to your kids: so if you train hard in the gym and get into good shape, you may actually have healthier and stronger offspring!
Caffeine enhances this process, giving you yet another reason to drink coffee!
10. Improves Mood
Caffeine can help to improve your mood. It does this by combating tiredness and lethargy, and by increasing production of the neurotransmitter (brain hormone) called dopamine.
Dopamine is the reward hormone and is produced when the brain thinks it is working toward something important. In other words, caffeine makes you more driven, determined, and therefore positive.
Of course caffeine can also make you a bit anxious. The solution? Get your caffeine from green tea, where this effect is counterbalanced by the calming l-theanine.
11. Reduces Numerous Diseases
Finally, caffeine has been shown in studies to help combat endless diseases and conditions. These include: type 2 diabetes, erectile dysfunction, asthma, skin cancer, mouth cancer, liver cancer, and liver disease. As you can see then, caffeine is, in fact, something of a wonder supplement and you really shouldn’t feel bad about having that morning coffee!
Just consider cutting back if you need that coffee in order to function normally!
Mich is a 38-year-old semi-professional sports person who enjoys extreme ironing, drone photography and ferret racing. She is fit and disciplined, has a degree in sports science and has a severe phobia of cats.