If you’re among the millions of people who can’t start the day without a decent cup of coffee first thing in the morning, you’ll already be know how the drink can help you feel more alert and energised. But is your daily cup of coffee doing you any good? We take a balanced look at the benefits and risks of your favourite drink.
Health benefits of coffee
s well as the common energising benefits, studies have shown that drinking coffee could have some lesser-known advantages for your health advantages.
According to research, coffee can help stave off Alzheimer’s disease and decrease the risk of gout (an extremely painful disease in which a build up of uric acid causes arthritis) in men over 40. It also protects against liver diseases such as cirrhosis.
According to a 2012 study*, caffeine can increase the effectiveness of common painkillers such as paracetamol. The study compared the pain-relieving results of with and without added caffeine, and concluded that there was a small but statistically significant benefit of added caffeine used at doses of 100 mg or more (roughly equivalent to a standard mug of coffee) for all pain conditions and painkillers. Painkillers with added caffeine are now routinely available without prescription.
Coffee has also been shown to help improve memory, particularly in the elderly, and to help prevent type 2 diabetes. Finally, the chemicals found in coffee are being investigated with a view to creating new drugs to treat heart disease.
Health risks of coffee
If you’re a longterm coffee drinker, you probably already know that drinking coffee (particularly strong, black coffee) can cause tooth discolouration over a period of time. To help mitigate this, clean your teeth afterwards with a toothpaste containing baking powder and visit your dentist for regular checkups.
A 2010 study claimed that coffee decreases blood flow to the heart, but on investigation the National Health Service stated that ‘the actual effect was modest and unlikely to have any adverse health effects. It is normal for arteries to dilate and constrict throughout the day, for example, with exercise.’ More information on the effects of coffee and decrease blood flow can be found on the NHS website here.
In an article published in the Daily Mail on 14 November 2014, Dr. Duane Mellor, assistant professor of dietetics at the university of Nottingham, said he was aware of all the studies and that he doesn’t advise his clients to give up coffee as they were a healthier alternative that sugary soft drinks.
He did, however, advise steering clear of coffee drinks that were high in sugar. He added that it is a myth that coffee and tea are dehydrating.
* Derry CJ, Derry S, Moore RA. Caffeine as an analgesic adjuvant for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012 Issue 3. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009281.pub2