We Love Coffee, but is it good for us?

A morning cup of coffee is a staple in the American diet. Seventy percent of Americans drink the beverage weekly and 62% drink coffee daily. Of these individuals, the average person consumes 3 cups a day! Furthermore, the number of coffee-drinkers is increasing. As the number of coffee drinkers continues to rise, it is important to consider why this is the case and if this trend is healthy.

Why is Coffee so Good?

Caffeine is one of the main chemicals found in coffee beans. An average cup of coffee contains around 95 mg of the substance. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, so it is a good choice for an early morning beverage. However, caffeine also releases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine has been popularized as the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and addiction, but there may be another reason coffee makes us so happy–the chemicals in coffee may also stimulate the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system regulates a wide range of functions such as cognition, blood pressure, immunity, addiction, sleep, appetite, energy, and glucose metabolism, and it can also modulate mood. In particular, caffeine may activate CB1 receptors which help regulate and control the brain’s limbic and reward circuitry (may contribute to addiction). Neurotransmitters in this system, such as 2-AG and anandamide, are especially associated with reward. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter in your brain that got its name from the Sanskrit word “ananda” which means “bliss” or “joy.” It is naturally found in chocolate, so that may be the reason coffee and chocolate is a popular combination! While coffee contains dozens of chemicals, there are a few that may explain why it makes us feel so good.

Is Coffee Good for Us?

Researchers at Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University have found that daily coffee consumption is correlated with positive health outcomes:

  • Healthy liver enzyme levels
  • Protection against dementia and Parkinson’s
  • Improve athletic performance
  • Less chance of heart failure or stroke
  • Decreased risk of some cancers

However, too much coffee consumption can cause problems. If your daily coffee beverage is loaded with sugar and fat, you could be increasing your chances of developing diabetes, cancer, or heart problems. Coffee can also raise your blood pressure and create anxiety, so consuming large quantities on a daily basis can cause physical or mental health problems. In fact, if you already experience anxiety or have an anxiety-related mental health diagnosis, coffee might not be for you.

Overall, the exact effects of coffee and its compounds are still being investigated by researchers. What we do know is that for most people, enjoying a daily cup of coffee can improve productivity and protect them from certain diseases.

Where Can I Get Coffee in Grand Rapids?

Here is a list of some of Health for Life Grand Rapids’ favorite places to get a cup of coffee in the Grand Rapids area:

References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-buzz-about-caffeine-and-health
https://www.ncausa.org/Newsroom/NCA-releases-Atlas-of-American-Coffee
https://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2018/07/02/coffee-8-cups-healthy
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-brain-food/201110/why-does-coffee-make-us-feel-so-good
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/9-reasons-why-the-right-amount-of-coffee-is-good-for-you

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