Caffeine is a stimulant that affects the heart and central nervous system by raising blood pressure and exciting hormones. It’s often described as a ‘mood drug’, giving the mind a quick boost before wearing off and bringing it down to earth with a bump.
Over the years, caffeine has been blamed for everything from stress and sleep deprivation through to sugar cravings and sharp mood swings. However, a flood of recent studies indicates that caffeine may also offer a host of key health benefits. As long as you don’t go downing espressos, it may well aid your body in a variety of ways.
Potential health benefits of taking caffeine
- Caffeine can speed up your metabolism — Whilst some researchers argue that an excess of caffeine can lead to stronger cravings for fatty, carb-rich foods, this stimulant has also been known to speed up the metabolism. It boosts the body’s blood sugar levels and can actually make you feel less hungry as a result. If taken before physical exercise, caffeine can also break down fats up to 30 per cent more efficiently. Just keep it in moderation!
- Caffeine can lift your mood — Caffeine and stress often go hand-in-hand, with hormone changes leading the body to suffer mood swings and even sleep loss. However, whilst there is clearly a danger in drinking too many cups of strong coffee or booster drinks, in smaller doses caffeine can really lift your mood to give you a short-term, positive boost. Just don’t overdo it on the black coffees …
- Caffeine can help to ward off Alzheimer’s disease — Research suggests that caffeine may reduce the risk of people contracting Alzheimer’s disease, by lowering the damage that fatty foods can have on the brain. Studies in the US suggest that tea and coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer from this illness, as caffeine protects a vital barrier between the brain and the main blood supply, preventing complications from arising.
- Caffeine can boost exercise endurance — Over-consumption of caffeine can cause problems to fitness fanatics, leaving the body feeling immensely tired after an all-too-short boost. However, if taken in small doses and at the right time, caffeine has actually been found to enhance physical exercise by extending the body’s endurance and burning off more fat.
- Caffeine may reduce the risk of gallstones — Contrary to popular belief, caffeine-rich coffee may actually help the body in its battle to avoid developing gallstones and kidney stones. Although research is still growing in this field, it seems that coffee may be able to break down the unwanted bile deposits which later cause problems in the gall bladder.
- Caffeine can improve skin condition — Research suggests caffeine could have a positive impact on the skin by constricting certain blood vessels in the face, thus reducing flushing. If taken carefully, it could help you out if you’re a rosacea sufferer, with blood vessels that dilate but fail to contract.
So next time you reach for that jar of decaf, why not pause for thought and consider some of the positive health effects caffeine could actually have on your body? It may not be wise to overdo it, but in moderation caffeine could offer you plenty of key benefits.