For a lot of people, nothing compares to a cup of heavenly coffee first thing in the morning. Whether your usual order is pitch black, a shot of espresso, or a latte macchiato, this beverage has the magical powers of waking you up, getting your gears started, and powering you through your morning tasks. But are coffee and caffeine good for your health?
The answer is both a yes and a no. See, the way coffee affects you will depend on a number of factors, including the time you consume it, how you drink it, how much of it you get during the day, as well as your overall health and activity levels. The great news is that it can be an excellent beverage to include in your everyday routine – as long as you stick to a few ground rules.
When to drink coffee
Most people have a cup of joe the moment they wake up. But science has shown that this might not be the best practice. In fact, it’s very important to be aware of your internal clock (the circadian rhythm that is in charge of your sleep-wake cycles), and adjust your caffeine intake to work best with it.
Because our bodies release higher doses of cortisol, the stress hormone, at certain times of the day, it’s crucial that we avoid drinking coffee during these hours. For the average person, this will be around 8 am, noon, and 5 pm, but it will differ from person to person, based on the time they wake up and go to bed.
So, if you want to get the most out of your brew, without feeling too jittery or unable to fall asleep, save your cup of joe for around 11 am (later if you’re a late sleeper).
How much coffee to drink
Coffee has a number of amazing health benefits, but that doesn’t give you the excuse to overdo it. Yes, it can protect you from diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and keep your liver in top shape. But too much can also cause anxiety, make you stressed, and even increase your chances of osteoporosis.
That’s why it’s important that you keep an eye on your daily intake. Try not to go over 400mg of coffee per day, which translates to about three large cups. It’s also not a bad idea to take a monthly rest period. Simply switch to decaf for one week every month, so that you avoid caffeine cravings that might make you consume more than is healthy.
Choosing (and storing) the best coffee
One thing to keep in mind is that the way you choose, store, and prepare your coffee can have a number of positive or negative effects. A rule of thumb for anyone drinking this beverage for its health benefits is to stay clear of low-quality and instant sorts. Those will simply not have the effect you’re looking for. Instead, make sure that you choose the highest quality beans you can get your hands on. You’ll need to know the origin of your coffee, as well as the date on which it was roasted (this will tell you how long it will keep). It’s also not a bad idea to go with organic coffee so that you can keep your favorite drink as pure as possible.
The next thing to know is the proper way of storing the beans. This will not be in the fridge or freezer, nor on your countertop. You’ll need an opaque, airtight container. Don’t grind the beans in advance. In order to get the most out of them, the brewing process will need to be done within 15 minutes of grinding.
Lastly, you can add a number of ingredients to your morning (or midday cup) to give it a unique taste or some additional health benefits. Mushroom coffee, for example, is a popular choice right now, but so is adding MCT oil and butter to your morning cup. These can have a positive effect on blood sugar, inflammation levels, and your body’s ability to burn fat. If you’re looking to get more out of your daily ritual, they’re definitely worth trying out.
Enjoying your cup
Last but not least, don’t forget about the psychological benefits of sitting down with a tasty hot (or cold) beverage. Whether you’re starting the day or taking a break, drinking coffee is a ritual you perform by yourself or people dear to you. The simple feeling of holding a hot cup in your hands can be a comfort. Meanwhile, establishing these kinds of daily routines can help fight anxiety and similar disorders.
There’s plenty of scientific data that shows how good caffeine is for you, as long as you consume it in moderation. In addition to helping you wake up, it can also protect you from neurodegenerative disorders, or improve your sports performance. Just remember to drink it responsibly, and to ditch those nasty single-use paper cups.