According to Statista.com, coffee is still one of the most popular beverages among Americans of all ages. In fact, nearly half of young adults age 18-24 drink coffee. But by far, seniors are more likely to drink the delectable beverage and they tend to drink roughly three times as many cups as day as well!
Not only is coffee one of the most satisfying and beloved beverages around, but it also comes with a bit of controversy and mystery. There are those health experts that claim coffee is beneficial to your health and those that claim it is NOT beneficial to your health.
Of course, most of these claims have to do with the caffeine content in the coffee. So what is the truth about caffeine? Is it good or bad for us? Well, the answer is – it’s both!
Let’s take a deeper dive into the pros and cons of caffeine.
It Makes Us More Alert
Let’s take a look at the most obvious benefit people experience from drinking coffee and that is it does help to give us a jolt of energy and make us feel more alert and awake. Caffeine has also been shown to improve response time and accuracy. So there really is something to people saying, “I can’t even think until I’ve had my first cup of coffee!”
It Puts Us in a Better Mood
Beyond making us more alert, caffeine can actually perk up our mood and flood us with positive feelings. Health experts believe this positive impact on our mood is what gets most people hooked on caffeinated drinks.
May Improve Memory
While more human studies are necessary, caffeine has been shown to improve long-term memory. In fact, worldwide studies have found that moderate caffeine consumption reduces the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. In Finland, where coffee consumption is higher than anywhere else in the world, people have the lowest risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Disruption of Normal Sleep Patterns
When we drink caffeinated beverages later in the day, they can interfere with us getting a good night’s sleep. This makes us feel sleepy the next day, which then makes us reach for more and more caffeine, and the vicious cycle continues.
Increased Production of Stress Hormones
Caffeine prompts our adrenal glands to produce more of the stress hormones norepinephrine, adrenaline, and cortisol. This is really bad because cortisol release contributes to both fatigue and insomnia.
On top of this, the increase of stress hormones in our bloodstream can cause us to have an exaggerated reaction to everyday stressful events. A traffic jam can send us reeling, as can our neighbor’s barking dog and a telemarketer calling at dinner.
Health researchers have found a link between the habitual use of caffeine and inflammation. Now when you combine this with caffeine’s tendency to raise blood pressure (thanks to those stress hormones!), you have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Of course, how caffeine will affect you will have much to do with your own genetic makeup and how much you drink. Your best option when it comes to caffeine consumption is to use moderation and to monitor how caffeine makes you feel and go from there!