Hands up all those who feel guilty about drinking coffee!
I have to confess, I love my coffee, and have usually had two cups by 6am. With 3 children to look after, 5-7am and 8-11pm are the only times I can get peace to work. Coffee wakens me up and sharpens my mind, so that I’m not sitting staring blankly at the laptop screen, and hopefully so that what I write isn’t incoherent drivel. Freshly brewed is my preference, however, instant will do. I’m not too fussy.
So 4 cups a day. EEEK, should a dietitian admit to that?! According to a wealth of reliable studies I shouldn’t be feeling guilty, in fact I am being positively virtuous. Hurray!!
A 2012 study following 400,000 people over 14 years found a multitude of health benefits for coffee drinkers, which backed up findings from earlier studies. Here is a summary of the benefits of coffee drinking:
- reduced risk of death from heart disease, stroke, diabetes and infections.
- 10% chance of living longer than non-coffee drinkers (3 cups/day)
- less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia
- helps control symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Coffee is choc-a-bloc full of antioxidants. 1300 in total after roasting.
Caffeine in sport….
There is sound evidence that caffeine may enhance sports performance, specifically, endurance sports (more than 60 min), brief sustained high-intensity sports (1-60 min), and team/intermittent sports (improved work rates, skills and concentration).
The affects of caffeine in coffee is variable, depending on the sensitivity of each individual. Some people find they get jittery after a few sips, I on the other hand can guzzle a fair few cups before experiencing any side effects. Common side effects include:
- restlessness, insomnia, irratibility, headache, gut disturbances.
What about dehydration?
A review of 10 scientific research studies, concluded that when you drink coffee, the body retains some of the fluid and that caffeine only causes mild fluid elimination from the body. There is no evidence that consumption of caffeinated beverages causes fluid abnormalities. A person who regularly consumes coffee/caffeine has a higher tolerance therefore would have to consume more coffee to have a diuretic effect compared to someone who does not drink coffee regularly.
So, it’s best to know your own body and how much caffeine you can tolerate before experiencing these side effects. Limit yourself to a maximum of 6 cups per day. Certain groups such as pregnant women and people with high blood pressure should limit this further. Pregnant women should have no more than 200mg of caffeine (approximately 2 cups of coffee).