Is coffee good for you?
Caffeine is known to improve alertness but it’s less well-known that consuming it before exercising can help the body use fat cells as an energy source as opposed to glycogen, so you may burn off more than normal. Even if you’re not about to hit the gym, your brain can benefit from a caffeine hit – the chemicals in it enhance dopamine production, leading to feelings of motivation and pleasure.
REPLENISHING THE BODY
‘Coffee is full of antioxidants, which fight free radicals in the body,’ explains Harriet Matley from Percol Coffee. ‘Free radicals are cells missing an electron from their structures, so they ‘steal’ electrons from other cells and proteins within the body, causing damage and even leading to diseases. Antioxidants neutralise the free radicals in the bloodstream,’ she adds. The body naturally produces more of these free radicals than it does antioxidants, so you should top up your supply by eating fresh fruit and veg – and drinking a few cups of coffee. Research also suggests drinking coffee has other benefits. Last year, a study published in the Journal Of The National Cancer Institute found drinking coffee could reduce the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by a fifth.
COFFEE BEAN BEAUTY
You don’t even have to drink coffee to see its benefits – ground beans can be used to make a scrub. Mix the beans with water, let the mixture sit and thicken. This makes a natural exfoliator which is also better for the environment, as the plastic microbeads in many shop-bought exfoliators are known to be harmful to marine life when they enter the ocean through waste and are consumed by fish. ‘Applied topically, coffee scrubs are said to reduce cellulite by tightening the skin and adding antioxidants to the skin. It’s not just your skin that can benefit, either. Surprisingly, a coffee scrub can also remove stains from household appliances and placing a coffee scrub in the fridge will act as a deodoriser,’ says Harriet Matley from Percol.
A quick ‘coffee nap’ is a superb way to boost energy. Drink a coffee, then have a 20-minute siesta straightaway before the caffeine kicks in. The caffeine blocks off adenosine, which makes you tired, so when you wake you’ll feel refreshed. The prime time for a nap is in the middle of the day, between 1pm-3pm. However, the half-life of caffeine in the body is six hours, and since adenosine reception is central to good sleep, avoid drinking coffee later than six hours before you go to bed for the night.
According to an Ethiopian legend, a 9th century goat herder learned of coffee’s stimulant properties when he noticed his animals were decidedly more excitable after grazing coffee plants.
Try not to drink more than 300mg of caffeine a day (four to five cups, based on a 2.5g tsp serving).
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