This appears to be a similar phenomenon to what we find with red wine. Moderate consumption of red wine comes with all sorts of wonderful health benefits, but drinking too much can be harmful. The same, from what I can tell, can be said about our consumption of coffee and caffeine. Let me count the ways.
Coffee Fights Dementia
Earlier this morning, I received a tweet from @panamajack pointing me toward an interesting article on Canada.com. As it turns out, coffee fights dementia. The scientists haven’t gotten as far as human trials just yet, but they did run an experiment using mice that were predisposed to dementia symptoms. You could say that they were Alzheimer’s mice. Researchers used tests to confirm that the mice involved were exhibiting signs of memory impairment.
Half of the mice in the trial were given plain water. The other half were dosed with caffeine as part of their drinking water. After two months of this arrangement, the caffeine-dosed mice “performed much better on tests measuring memory and thinking skills, performing as well as mice of the same age without dementia.” Does this mean that caffeine can improve memory and reverse the effects of dementia in people? Maybe.
Coffee Really Does Hydrate
It is commonly accepted that we should drink more water each day, but many people also believe that caffeinated beverages don’t count toward that “eight glasses a day” for water consumption. Well, that’s wrong. A recent study “found no significant differences” in hydration when comparing plain water with any combination of caffeinated beverages, including coffee. We retain at least half of the fluid in the coffee, which isn’t all that shabby. If you’re thirsty, coffee can hit the spot.
Coffee Cures Headaches
There are many things that can cause a headache and one of these happens to be caffeine withdrawal. I realize that this becomes a bit of a chicken-and-egg phenomenon, but if you are already addicted to caffeine, one of the easiest ways to overcome your headache is to drink a cup of coffee. As mentioned above, the cup of coffee can also hydrate you; dehydration is one of the more common causes of headaches as well.
Coffee Improves Life-Work Balance
Since I work from home as a freelance writer, I don’t get much in terms of “real” human interaction over the course of a regular work day. Staring at the same monitor and the same four walls can drive me absolutely batty, so I oftentimes look for excuses to go outside. Simply getting outside of the house can work wonders for my sanity and one of my more common destinations is the local coffee house. This achieves two fundamental goals.
First, I am out of the house and that helps with finding some semblance of sanity. Second, I can once again feel like I am a part of society, interacting with a real person (the barista), albeit briefly. With these two elements in place, my overall sense of work-life balance is vastly improved.
Coffee Isn’t All That Bad
Whether you must have some fancy steamed beverage at Starbucks or you are perfectly satisfied with fast food coffee, that invaluable cup of caffeine certainly has its benefits. I’d be wary of over-indulging or over-spending, of course, which is partly why I choose to brew most of my own coffee at home.
What about you? What’s your perspective on our communal coffee addiction?