For many of us, our morning routine isn’t complete without a good cup of coffee. But is our mindless pouring a healthy habit or one we better break?
Stereotypically, we’re a nation of tea drinkers. Even so, we’re pretty into our coffee too, drinking approximately 95 million cups of coffee a day according to the British Coffee Association. It’s no secret that coffee tastes great, and the hit of caffeine is what carries most of us through our day. So, how does it work? As the chemical adenosine builds up in our bodies, it makes us feel sleepy. Caffeine binds to the adenosine receptors in the brain and stops the sleep signal in its tracks, making you feel more alert. It also has an effect of the nervous system and increases adrenaline. While this may sound a good idea if you’re feeling the 3pm slump at work, it can cause an irregular heartbeat and higher blood pressure, which should be avoided if you suffer from high blood pressure already.
Caffeine isn’t the only compound found in coffee. In fact, coffee contains many different chemicals that effect the body often presumed to be caused by caffeine. Coffee is also rich in polyphenols, a plant-based compound found in many fruits and vegetables. Polyphenols are high in antioxidants and are believed to contribute towards heart health and reduce inflammation. So, it seems the jury is still out on coffee. In the meantime, BBC series ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor’ recommends opting for a lighter roast to get the most polyphenols and not to drink more than a couple of caffeinated drinks per hour to keep your caffeine levels safe (and less for pregnant women). While we will be more aware on our coffee consumption, our cafetières aren’t going anywhere soon.