If you are already a coffee drinker, it should be reassuring that after decades of research, no strong link can be found between coffee intake and cancer and, to the contrary, a number of health benefits seem to accompany coffee consumption. But, I’m not sure the evidence is powerful enough to recommend an increase in your daily habit. One reason is that we don’t know for sure that coffee consumption actually caused the health benefits observed in these studies. Some other, unmeasured factor could be responsible. Another reason is that the overall effect was small. And, it’s worth noting that some people are quite sensitive to the side effects of coffee.
Coffee is 99% water. While this may seem obvious, we often don’t take into account the quality of that water when brewing a morning cup. Start with the highest quality ingredients, and you will ensure that best coffee possible. This goes for the beans, too. Always opt for organic, and spend the extra dollars if you have to. Coffee is the most heavily sprayed crop in the world, pesticide-wise, so you really don’t want to go with beans of dubious quality.
Need a little boost to get you through your HIIT workout? A 2013 study from PLoS One shows that athletes who consumed coffee an hour before exercise had greater performance than those who drank decaffeinated coffee. Plus, a 2015 study from the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggests that people who drink coffee before a workout burn more calories after exercise, also known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). This means that even if your spin class is over, your body will continue to burn more calories. We’ll drink to that! ☕

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Let's take a quick jog down memory lane about how the research behind the benefits of coffee has changed over the years: In 1991, the World Health Organization classified the beverage as a “possible carcinogen.” Then, in 2016, the organization found that there was “no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect of drinking coffee.” And in between, most of the news about coffee was largely positive: That, instead of being harmful to your health, regular coffee consumption (in moderation, of course), is actually good for you.
How it works: There are several theories about how coffee may help prevent or protect against cognitive decline. One working theory: caffeine prevents the buildup of beta-amyloid plaque that may contribute to the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Researchers also theorize that because coffee drinking may be associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, a risk factor for dementia, it also lowers the risk for developing dementia.
We’re not talking about the inflammation caused by a killer workout, we mean the type of disease-causing inflammation that’s spurred and worsened by old age. Caffeine has an amazing influence on your immune system—so much in fact that nearly all the other health benefits below could be explained by its ability to fight and ward off disease (like type 2 diabetes and heart disease), according to research published in Nature Medicine. In short, caffeine blocks certain receptors on brain cells, which is how coffee has its stimulating “wake-up” effect. In impeding these receptors, caffeine also blocks pathways that product inflammatory molecules, the researchers found. So, as you age, don’t be wary of coffee. In this study, the older men and women who drank more caffeine had fewer inflammatory molecules; they also had lower blood pressure and more flexible arteries, more relatives who lived past age 90, and were healthier overall.
If you are already a coffee drinker, it should be reassuring that after decades of research, no strong link can be found between coffee intake and cancer and, to the contrary, a number of health benefits seem to accompany coffee consumption. But, I’m not sure the evidence is powerful enough to recommend an increase in your daily habit. One reason is that we don’t know for sure that coffee consumption actually caused the health benefits observed in these studies. Some other, unmeasured factor could be responsible. Another reason is that the overall effect was small. And, it’s worth noting that some people are quite sensitive to the side effects of coffee. 

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If you consider the “health” of your coffee as more than just what you’re putting in your body, but also how your coffee beans are grown, picked, and get to you, Swinney suggests you’re taking your coffee habit to a more beneficial level—not only for yourself, but for the world. “Drink clean and with a conscience. Choose fair trade or coffee with other certifications that help third-world farmers improve their living conditions. Give some thought to the packaging involved in single-serve coffee—it requires much more packaging and contains a larger carbon footprint for getting to the store.”
Don’t feel bad about those days you drink a little too much coffee: A 2016 study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry found drinking a high consumption—we’re talking more than four a day—can help reduce your risk of multiple sclerosis, a disease that causes the immune system to attack the protective covering of the nerves in the brain, spine, and eyes. And not just a little—by 31 percent.
There’s no need to try anything crazy; the only performance enhancer you really need is coffee. Research has shown its ability to give workouts a boost and increase athletic performance, and that’s exactly why you’ll find so many Olympians drinking it: One report from the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found the majority of the 20,686 Olympic athletes analyzed had caffeine in their urine.
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