Do you know what a cup of coffee does to your body? It’s time to learn.
The age-old question goes “Coffee, tea or me?” Both beverages are popular, and many people pick the first. Few people can resist a hot cup of java in the morning.
People have conflicting opinions about coffee, owing to the wealth of information available about the beverage. So is it beneficial or harmful? How much caffeine is safe?
What a Cup of Coffee Does to You in Six Hours
The pros and cons of a cup of coffee are debatable. Before you decide whether you should have your next cup of java, here is a breakdown of what happens after you drink one.
Ten minutes after sipping your coffee, caffeine enters your bloodstream and causes your heart rate to rise. You will also experience a sharp increase in energy. According to researchers at the University of Barcelona, the effect is more pronounced in men.
After twenty minutes, you probably feel energetic. Caffeine induces adenosine, the neurotransmitter that reminds you that it is bedtime. It allows the brain’s stimulants, dopamine, and glutamine, to take effect. You will feel lively and raring to go.
Half an hour after you sip your coffee, you produce adrenaline, which increases your energy further. This hormone helps blood flow to your muscles. For this reason, fitness professionals use it as a pre-workout drink.
Forty minutes later, your brain starts to regulate serotonin, the chemical that determines your mood. A person usually perks up after having his morning cup, and it is because of this hormone.
An hour after drinking coffee, you will find yourself feeling more content than before. Researcher Dr. Owen Bain explains that caffeine increases dopamine levels, which may explain why your mood is positive.
Three hours after you drink coffee, you will feel a reduction in your energy because the caffeine starts to lose its effect. Your body, however, has not stopped processing it. Six hours after you have had your coffee, caffeine begins to act as a diuretic and prompts the kidneys to produce urine.
The Benefits of Coffee
Like all stimulants, caffeine has advantages. That cup of coffee may have more of those than you might believe.
1. Raises energy levels and improves cognition
Caffeine is one of the most revered stimulants in the world. Many studies, such as CHS Ruxton’s exploration of caffeine’s effect on mood, show that about 400 mg of caffeine per day affects emotions positively.
About 1-4 cups of it a day helps you to stay focused and alert. A study in the European Journal of Neurology shows that coffee drinkers have a 65% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Weight Loss
Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that caffeine can aid metabolism and fat burning up to 11%. Coffee, consumed without sugar, helps weight loss.
3. Lowers risk of obesity-related diseases
Since caffeine helps to keep weight in check, it comes as no surprise that it can prevent obesity-related diseases. Type 2 Diabetes, characterized by the body’s lack of insulin, causes high blood sugar levels. Research shows that caffeine can reduce diabetes by up to 67%.
There are claims that coffee raises blood pressure, but there are many counterclaims as well. A study by Wu Jiang Nan et al. shows that participants who consumed coffee in moderate amounts had lower rates of heart disease.
4. Improves Physical Performance
Caffeine causes your cells to break down body fat and release it into the blood as free fatty acids. It then becomes available as adrenaline. A study by Samuel Bellet shows that regular coffee increased adrenaline, or the “flight or fight” response (FFA) in participants more than decaffeinated coffee.
5. Filled with Essential Nutrients
Coffee beans have nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy. Happily, a lot of them make it into the final brew. One cup of coffee has 11% of your required Vitamin B2 intake. It also contains Pantothenic Acid, Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium, and Niacin.
6. Prevents Parkinson’s
Coffee may not only protect your intelligence but your motor skills as well. Studies show that coffee aficionados have a lower rate of Parkinson’s disease than those who did not consume the beverage. A study by Miguel A Herman et al. revealed that the risk of Parkinson’s was 0.84 for non-coffee drinkers and 0.69 for coffee lovers.
7. Protects the liver
Caffeine can prevent liver diseases such as Hepatitis and Fatty Liver Disease. These illnesses often lead to cirrhosis or the scarring of liver tissue. Studies show that caffeine can reduce the incidence of cirrhosis by up to 80%.
8. Fights depression
Depression, a severe mental disorder, affects about 4.1% of Americans. A study by Harvard researchers Michael Lucas et al. showed that women who drank about four cups of coffee in a day had a 20% lower risk of depression. 53% of them were less likely to commit suicide.
9. Lowers cancer risk
Coffee appears to reduce the risk of colorectal and liver cancers. Quantitative studies showed that it reduces liver cancer by up to 43%. According to another study by Rashmi Sinha et al. drinkers of regular coffee had a 15% lower occurrence of colorectal cancer compared with those who drank decaffeinated coffee.
10. Lengthens your life
Since coffee reduces the risk of so many diseases, it makes sense that it will help you live longer. Studies show that it leads to a 20% lower rate of death in men, and 26% in women. It seemed to have the most effect on people with Type 2 Diabetes.
A 20-year study of diabetics showed that those who drank coffee had a 30% lower risk of death.
11. An Antioxidant Source
Coffee contains a wealth of antioxidants. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that coffee was one of the main contributors of antioxidants in the Spanish diet.
12. Improves Fiber Intake
A cup of coffee contributes up to 1.8g of your recommended fiber intake, according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. It aids digestion and reduces inflammation.
13. Strengthens Genetic Profile
Coffee drinkers tend to have stronger DNA. Researchers Bakuradze T et al. found that the white blood cells of coffee drinkers had fewer strands of DNA breakage.
14. Lowers the risk of multiple sclerosis
Taking in four cups of coffee a day may help to prevent Multiple Sclerosis, as studies show. Caffeine prevents the inflammation that leads to the development of the disease.
15. Prevents damage to the retina
Cells in the retina become damaged due to oxidative stress. Researchers Holim Jiang et al. found that chlorogenic acid in coffee beans prevented retinal damage by hypoxia.
16. Prevents cavities
Brazilian researchers found that strong black coffee gets rid of the germs that cause tooth decay. Of course, adding milk or sugar will nullify this benefit.
The Side Effects of Coffee
Drinking coffee can be beneficial, but too much of it has its drawbacks. Here are some risks of coffee drinking:
- Coffee that is not top grade can have lots of impurities, which can harm your immune system. The body can tolerate up to 13 g of caffeine. Amounts higher than this will induce vomiting.
- Having coffee too close to bedtime can cause insomnia. You must know by now how much coffee you can consume. How much coffee you can take in is written in your DNA. If you are pregnant, your baby may be sensitive to caffeine if you drink it in excessive amounts.
- Coffee has two compounds, cafestol, and kahweol, which appear to increase LDL or bad cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol levels, choose filtered coffee.
So, is a cup of coffee a friend or enemy?
1-6 cups is a reasonable amount of coffee to take in a day. It will help you to experience the benefits of disease prevention and weight loss. Any more than that can have ill-effects.
- PubMed – NCBI –   
- Wiley Online Library –   
- Science Direct –  
- Authority Nutrition
- Caffeine Informer
- Science Direct
- ACS Publications
By Michelle L.