When a group of volunteers received a dose of 100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, about as much contained in a single cup of coffee, Austrian researchers found a surge in the volunteers’ brain activity, measured by functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI), as they performed a memory task. The researchers noted that the memory skills and reaction times of the caffeinated volunteers were also improved when compared to the control group who received a placebo and showed no increase in brain activity.
Haendeler, who drinks six cups of coffee a day, says it can be part of a healthy lifestyle—but is no miracle cure. And she is quick to point out there are no shortcuts to good health. “If you hear about this study and decide to drink coffee but you do nothing else—no exercise, no proper diet—then, of course, this will not work,” she says. “You cannot simply decide, ‘Okay, I’m sitting here and drinking four, five or six cups of coffee and everything is fine.'”
One UCLA study even famously reversed some symptoms of Alzheimer’s. What was the methodology used? A Paleo diet and lifestyle! Since a typical Paleo diet includes coconut oil, it is wise to add a little bit of this fat to your morning coffee. I personally love the taste of coconut oil in coffee, even though I am typically not a coffee drinker. Yum!
One of the benefits of coffee beans is that they contain an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid (CGA) in addition to other antioxidants. Raw beans contain roughly 9 percent CGA by weight, which can help with weight loss and is a neuroprotectant. Coffee beans also help reduce inflammation, which is associated with a number of health concerns. In addition, the caffeine in coffee beans provides benefits such as reducing headaches. Understanding these health benefits can help coffee-drinkers appreciate more than just the taste of their next cup of java.
To support this argument, consider this. A recent in-depth research done in Turkey last year revealed an inverse relationship between consumption of coffee and blood levels of all liver enzymes. Conventionally, increased levels of liver enzymes reflect damage and inflammation to the liver. Simply, the more coffee drank, the lesser their enzyme levels.
If drinking a cup or two of coffee tends to make you feel good mentally, there’s a reason for that: A 2013 study published in the World Journal of Biological Psychiatry found drinking coffee actually acts as a mild antidepressant by boosting feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain. After examining 44,000 men and 74,000 women, they found a few cups of brew reduced the risk of suicide by 50 percent.
While they say that the results support moderate coffee drinking as a relatively healthy habit, both Poole and Guallar say the findings don’t go far enough to prompt anyone to change their coffee-drinking habits in the hopes of improving their health. The study did not confirm, for example, that people who do not currently drink coffee should start adding a cup or two a day in order to lower their risk of getting heart disease or any of the other chronic conditions studied. The data also do not support the idea that current coffee drinkers should drink even more coffee to enhance whatever benefits they might be receiving. Too much coffee, the data suggest, starts to bend the benefit curve back down.