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Is Coffee good for me?

We all love a good cup of joe. The smell of coffee wafting from a cafe is one of the finer things in life. Coffee is a staple in many Australians diet. However, whilst coffee has its benefits it also has a lot of downsides when used in excess or timed poorly.

Let’s start with the benefits:

  1. Coffee can improve physical and mental performance
  2. Coffee can make you feel more alert and awake
  3. Coffee may help prevent neurological diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, it might also lesson your chances of Parkinson’s disease (more proof needed)
  4. Coffee may even reduce your chances of developing Diabetes, and liver cancer!
  5. Coffee may reduce your risk of depression!

So many wonderful possible benefits, more research is needed on these in order to form a scientific consensus. Much of these outcomes are based on studies that find correlation rather than causation, such as cohort studies based on questionnaires.

Most people now agree that coffee in moderation is not unhealthy and may even provide health benefits. However, as with all things, the primary question is how much coffee is too much. Most health organisations recommend no more than 400mg of caffeine per day (coffee contains caffeine). However, all coffee is not created equal. Cold brew coffee for example can contain up to 200mg of caffeine per serve, whilst most espresso shots are between 60-100 mg.

So, what happens if we have too much caffeine in our system?

The number one concern here is the effects on sleep. Caffeine has a half-life of around 4-6 hours. So, if you are enjoying caffeine in the afternoon to get through the remainder of the day. That caffeine will still be present with you when you are trying to sleep. And if you’ve read any of our previous blogs on sleep, this is a BIG problem.

Poor sleep increases your risk of just about everything – for example a group of American researchers found that heart attack risk jumps up 24% when losing one hour of sleep, whilst it drops 21 percent when we gain an extra hour. Isn’t that crazy?!

The advice that we would give to you, based on what evidence there is, is that a cup of coffee in the morning is a nice thing to enjoy, but not a good thing to rely on. Certainly, don’t be exceeding 400mg caffeine per day if you expect to sleep well and be healthy. Try to have your coffee in the AM (decaf is a better choice after midday). If you need coffee to function, you should invest some time in optimising your sleeping patterns. Coffee may provide wonderful health benefits, but a lot of people are relying excessively on caffeine to function – a symptom of poor sleeping patterns.

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