Six reasons to love caffeine

Young woman using smart phone and laptop with cup of coffee in cafeDo you enjoy a cup of joe every morning? Who doesn’t, right? Turns out caffeine is more than an elixir of energy found in most American households. There are many health benefits to caffeine that go beyond waking you up. Here’s a look at a few of them, according to experts and the findings of research:

1. Aids in focus and mental clarity.
There’s a reason you feel more alert after a few sips and it’s because of a hormonal surge. That’s because caffeine activates the pituitary gland to make adrenaline, also known as the “fight or flight” chemical.

There’s also a feel-good component to it. Caffeine indirectly stimulates the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and GABA which are known to help attention and focus, making it easier to tackle your to-do list. Huzzah!

2. Boosts immunity.
Caffeine’s properties help enhance our antioxidant defenses, which in turn, promote whole-body health. There’s even evidence that suggests that caffeine can give the skin a pick-me-up and delay signs of aging.

3. Promotes optimal brain health.
Could your morning cup be good for your noggin? Caffeine reduces neural pathways and protects neurons, ultimately giving your brain a boost.

Caffeine packs a mean punch when it comes to brain benefits. It has a natural ability to sustain attention, improve alertness, help you find creative solutions, foster mental alertness and even boost mood.

4. Enhances exercise performance.
Whether you’re going for a morning run or trying to get amped before lifting, caffeine is an invigorating substance that can elevate your routine, elicit physical energy and optimize performance.

Again, you can thank science for surpassing personal records at the gym. Caffeine activates neural pathways and by proxy, the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is a powerful drug when trying to hit a new level of physical performance.

We mentioned coffee but other beverages and foods contain this health-promoting substance, too. That’s good news for people who can’t stand the acid in coffee or just enjoy the variety of tea.

There are other factors at play, too, that can influence how much caffeine is in your cup. Preparation technique and brewing time are two. As it relates to coffee, the caffeine content depends on how long the beans have been roasted. Light roasts have more caffeine than dark ones. Similarly, the longer black tea leaves are steeped, the more caffeine your tea will have.

5. Can help promote a healthy weight.
Could your morning routine help you enjoy a smaller waist? According to some research, coffee could help in the way of decreasing fat storage and supporting gut health, both of which may be beneficial for weight management. There’s also evidence that caffeine can result in lower body fat in both men and women. Good news for people looking to get into their skinny jeans.

6. Extends lifespan.
Recent studies found that coffee drinkers are less likely to die from some of the leading causes of death in women: coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

Caffeine is not relegated to the coffee or tea aisle either. Do you enjoy some dark chocolate as an after-dinner treat? What about java-flavored ice cream? Chocolate-covered espresso beans? Those can perk you up as well.

If you’re curious about the caffeine contents of other foods and drinks, here’s a breakdown:

  • Brewed coffee (8 ounces): 96 milligrams
  • Instant coffee (8 ounces): 62 milligrams
  • Espresso (1 ounce): 64 milligrams
  • Brewed black tea (8 ounces): 47 milligrams
  • Brewed green tea (8 ounces): 28 milligrams
  • Dark chocolate (1 ounce): 23 milligrams
  • Semisweet chocolate chips (1 ounce, or 60 pieces): 18 milligrams

It should be mentioned that you can consume caffeine in supplements, either on their own or combined with other ingredients. But a word of caution: Just like with the food and beverage sources of caffeine listed above, it’s also important to carefully consider your caffeine quota when ingested this way. You don’t want to overdo it or else you might risk-averse side effects like jitters, sleep issues, upset stomach and other counterindications. In other words, it’s important to know your limits. Some people are more tolerant of caffeine than others. Pregnant women will need to limit their intake.

As you learned above, caffeine certainly has a place at the table but it’s not for everyone. If you’re looking for some guidance on boosting energy naturally or concerned that you’re depending too much on caffeine to get through the day, we can help. Integrative medicine tries to recognize that each individual is unique and is facing unique circumstances that may be impacting their health and wellness. We believe that promoting the health of the body takes a complete approach to lifestyle, nutrition, addressing physical activity levels and sleep quality, and looking for any allergies or intolerances.

If you’re fed up with traditional medicine and want answers, that’s exactly what we offer. Give us a call at (703) 822-5003and breathe a sigh of relief knowing you’re closer to living a fuller life.