How Coffee Can Affect Your Brain Health

Would you rather give up your mobile phone or skip your morning cup of coffee, for a month?  Perhaps surprisingly, the choice is roughly an even split amongst British people, according to one recent social media poll.

Still, with more than 96 million cups of coffee consumed each day in the UK, you may wonder about the impact on your health.  A recent study confirms that the beverage you love probably poses little risk, unless you consume more than 6 cups a day.  At these levels research suggests that coffee can be beneficial to your health in a number of ways:

1. Coffee may help you to focus

Caffeine in moderation helps with increasing your mental alertness.

2. Coffee may boost your physical performance

Caffeine increases adrenalin levels in the blood which prepares your body for physical exertion.

3. Coffee may help with weight loss

Caffeine aids fat cells to break down body fat to use as fuel for training.

4. Coffee may reduce your cancer risk

Studies suggest caffeine can reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer.

5. Coffee may reduce your risk of having a stroke

Caffeine in moderation is believed to reduce the risk of having a stroke.

6. Coffee may reduce your risk of suffering from dementia

There’s evidence that coffee stimulates the brain that can help prevent the development of dementia.

7. Coffee may protect your body

Coffee contains many antioxidants that helps to prevent cell damage by free radicals.

8. Coffee may lower risk of Type II diabetes

Caffeine decreases your insulin sensitivity and impairs glucose tolerance, to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.

9. Coffee may help to stave off depression

Caffeine stimulates the production of neurotransmitters in the blood, such as serotonin and dopemine, which improves mood.

However, some studies indicate that drinking more than 6 cups of coffee a day may be the point at which coffee could shrink brain volume and increase the risk from stroke and dementia by 53%.  This research was conducted by the University of South Australia and is the largest of its kind to date.

It’s fair to say the health benefits and negatives of drinking coffee remains a controversial subject and an area that requires more research before firm conclusions can be confidently made.

As long as you consume coffee in moderation, you can probably enjoy the flavour, along with its many impressive health benefits.  Learn more about how to make your coffee habit work for you.

How to Drink Coffee in Moderation

The average American drinks about 3 cups of coffee a day, well under the FDA recommendation of 4 servings or less.

If you need to cut back, try these tips:

1. Taper down

Caffeine headaches are real.  If you stop abruptly, your blood vessels may suddenly enlarge and put uncomfortable pressure on the nerves surrounding your brain.  Slow down gradually instead.

2. Shrink your cups

How big is your mug?  The average mug holds about 300ml of liquid, so you may be drinking more than you realise.

3. Start later

Do you need coffee to wake up in the morning?  Consider a glass of water instead.  You’ll feel more alert when you’re rehydrated and you can sit down with your coffee when you get to work.

4. Change brands

Espresso tastes more intense, but it has less caffeine than regular coffee.  That’s because it’s made with arabica beans rather than robusta.  You may also want to try decaf or mix regular and decaffeinated coffee together.

5. Drink water

Heavy coffee consumption may leave little room in your diet for the water your brain needs.  Try to carry a refillable bottle around with you.

Other Tips for Brain Health

Your lifestyle has a major impact on how your brain functions.  Some changes are natural with age but you can slow down the process of cognitive decline.

Try these techniques:

1. Limit alcohol 

Even moderate drinking may shrink your brain and change its structure.  Schedule days off from alcohol and talk with your doctor if you need help.

2. Quit smoking 

Tobacco thins your cerebral cortex and interferes with circulation.  Make a plan and pick a date to say goodbye to cigarettes.

3. Exercise regularly

Your body and brain are closely connected.  Stay fit with a balanced programme of aerobic and resistance workouts.

4. Sleep well

There are many benefits from getting a good night’s sleep.  While you’re lying in bed, your brain is busy recovering from its daily work.  Give it the rest it needs.  Stick to a consistent early bedtime and keep your bedroom dark and quiet.

5. Manage stress

Chronic tension causes inflammation and premature ageing.  Slow down the process by finding relaxation practices that match your needs.  Do relaxing stretching exercises or listen to instrumental music.  Talk with a family member or friend when you feel low.

6. Stay engaged

Learning and socialising stimulate your brain.  Make room in your calendar for parties, reading and other fun activities.

Let’s be grateful that something as delicious as coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle!  Multiple studies have found that it sharpens your focus, boosts your mood and may even lower your risk for certain cancers.  Keep your body and brain in top shape with moderate coffee consumption and other positive habits.

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