Coffee for WellnessLuke Coutinho
Legend has it that coffee was discovered in the Ethiopian plateau by a goat herder, who found that the goats were particularly energetic after having berries from a specific tree. These berries were then collected and taken to the monastery, where they created a beverage out of it. It was established that this berry drink kept them alert through the long hours of evening prayers. This drink was, in fact, coffee!
This is one of the primary benefits, or the reason why most of us head straight for our fill of coffee every morning.
Let us look at how coffee affects our body:
- Caffeine as a stimulant
Coffee contains a vital component called Caffeine. Caffeine is considered a psychoactive drug or a stimulant to the central nervous system.
People crave it, because it causes the adrenal gland to stimulate cortisol and adrenaline release. This gives us that go-getter energy. Caffeine also blocks the inhibitory neurotransmitter, “adenosine” in the brain, which in turn causes the other neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine to increase, leading to enhanced firing of neurons.
Caffeine helps to improve different brain functions such as memory, mood regulation, and reaction time.
- Fat burner
Caffeine is also known to boost metabolism, which increases calorie burning. It also stimulates the nervous system, which causes the fat cells to break down body fat, aiding in weight loss.
- Lowering the risk of diabetes
Green coffee beans are particularly beneficial for managing diabetes owing to their higher chlorogenic acid content.
- Superfood for brain health
Research shows that coffee blocks the adenosine receptors, hence reducing brain inflammation. This helps to avoid or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s in older people. Caffeine also helps to improve memory, and reduce cognitive decline or dementia.
Parkinson’s is another ageing-related brain degenerative condition. It is caused by the death of dopamine-generating neurons in the brain. Studies suggest that caffeine helps in reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
- Treats depression
Coffee is known to help reduce the chances of depression. However, you might want to be cautious with it, as caffeinated beverages also affect the circadian rhythm and sleep quality, which can cause more mood swings and depression. One can limit themselves to 1-2 cups a day, but not late in the night. It is ideal to have your coffee anytime during the day, but an hour or so before sunset.
- Boosts liver health
It is observed that coffee helps to reduce liver fibrosis by decreasing the activity of liver enzymes. It helps to lower the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, and liver cirrhosis too.
- Lower risk of colorectal cancer
Coffee within safe limits can also boost gut health. It has several bioactive compounds that improve colon health, helping to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
- Skin health
Coffee also has many external benefits, and this is because it has internal healing properties. Some of them are:
- It reduces cellulite’s appearance, as it dilates the blood vessels beneath the skin, and improves overall blood flow.
- Coffee grounds help to reduce the appearance of sunspots, redness, and fine lines.
- Chlorogenic acid in coffee helps to reduce pigmentation caused by inflammation.
- Trigonelline in the coffee bean is converted to vitamin B3 (niacin). Niacin prevents non-melanoma skin cancers.
- Chlorogenic acid also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, which make it beneficial for treating acne.
- Coffee grounds work as an exfoliant that helps get rid of dead skin cells and debris, and can become a part of your skincare ritual to get a flawless glow.
- Coffee application also helps to reduce under-eye circles.
Here’s a DIY recipe that you can try with coffee:
- Mix ½ tsp of coffee powder with ½ tsp of extra virgin olive oil. Add some water, and make a paste. Pat this under the eyes without rubbing.
- Leave the mixture on for 5 – 10 minutes.
- Rinse off with water.
In the case of sunburn:
- Brew a cup of coffee. Dilute it with cold water. Dip a cotton ball in it, squeeze out the excess, and dab this on the face.
- Repeat two times a day to reduce swelling and redness.
- Hair care
Coffee can also be used as natural hair colour to get a brown tinge on the mane.
Mixed with natural henna powder, it helps to intensify the colour of henna.Applying coffee to the scalp also stimulates hair growth, and stops hair loss, especially in men as it is known to be a DHT -blocker (dihydrotestosterone).
When does coffee become bad for us?
While coffee has numerous health benefits it is important to understand that it can also have adverse effects on the body, if you do not care for certain aspects.
- Choose a good quality coffee.
Good quality organic coffee has a great antioxidant profile, which boosts its benefits. On the other hand, instant coffee tends to be highly processed, and stripped of all its goodness.
2. The kind of coffee you make matters.
Coffee is best had black. All the cream, caramel, sugar, or ice-cream pumped into coffee makes it a useless drink. Drink coffee the authentic way. If you want to add milk, do so, but good quality and ethically sourced milk.
3. Never overdo.
Coffee is bad for you, if you overdo it. When it comes to coffee, less is more. Limiting coffee to two cups a day is important. Coffee can make the body very acidic, if we overdo it. An acidic body is a breeding ground for various microbes and bacteria.
Coffee also acts as a diuretic, which means it can flush out all the important minerals and nutrients from your body, through urination. For every cup of coffee, it is a good practice to have a glass of water to rehydrate the body and make it alkaline.
4. Coffee can damage your gut, if had on an empty stomach.
So many people start their day with a cup of coffee. This is detrimental to your gut. Coffee on an empty stomach can irritate the delicate intestinal linings, and cause inflammation. Do not have it on an empty stomach. Also, when we wake up, our body is already acidic. If you have an acidic beverage, such as coffee first thing upon waking up, it makes the digestive system all the more acidic. It is recommended to have an alkaline beverage upon waking up, such as plain water or even lemon water.
5. Never have coffee while fasting.
Drinking coffee while intermittent fasting can also harm our gut health, as it makes the body very acidic, and practically nullifies all the benefits of fasting. It is considered a wrong way to observe a fast.
6. Time it right.
Caffeine in coffee reduces the absorption of nutrients from food such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and many other vitamins and minerals. Make sure you do not have coffee with, or right after a meal. Keep at least a 20 to 30-minute gap between your meal and coffee.
7. Always remember to rinse your mouth after enjoying your coffee.
Caffeine leaves an unwanted stain on your teeth over time. Rinsing your mouth will help to prevent this.
So, coffee can be your friend as well as a foe. You only need to be wise and mindful of its consumption to reap all its benefits, while enjoying your morning cup of joy!