Science Says 'Yes' to Your Morning Hillside Run

The lines at Hillside and the Chocolate Bar are long in between classes with students lining up for their morning caffeine boost. These students may be getting more from their cappuccinos, mocha lattes and espresso shots than they thought, as new scientific evidence has suggested that drinking coffee comes with many health benefits.

As college students, we know how helpful caffeine is when pulling an all-nighter before a midterm, but it does more than just keep you awake. Caffeine was found to affect the areas of the brain in control of concentration and memory. Researchers concluded that caffeine boosts short-term memory, making that cup a coffee doubly helpful when you’re trying to memorize your study guide.

Photo courtesy of Emilie Rhaupp / Flickr

Photo courtesy of Emilie Rhaupp / Flickr

Green tea and cocoa are both rich in antioxidants, but coffee was found to contain even more than these “antioxidant superstars.” Antioxidants fight inflammation and many chronic diseases, such as arthritis, several types of cancer, cardiovascular disease and artheroschlerosis. There are approximately 1,000 antioxidants that have been identified in raw coffee beans and, during the roasting process, hundreds more are developed.

Antioxidants found in coffee, known as polyphenols, demonstrate anticarcinogenic properties, suggesting that coffee may decrease the risk of certain cancers such as liver, colon, breast and prostate.

Moderate coffee drinkers, defined as drinking between two to four cups a day, have a lower risk of heart disease, according to a Dutch study. Thanks to the link between drinking coffee and reducing inflammation, it is suggested that coffee promotes heart health by protecting against inflammation that can cause damage to the arteries.

The risk of developing diabetes is significantly lower for moderate to heavy coffee drinkers, dropping by as much as seven percent for each cup of coffee drunk daily, according to a 2009 study. Scientists suggest that coffee helps the body use insulin and protects cells that produce insulin. Coffee also contains an element that reduces abnormal protein deposits in the body, a risk factor associated with type 2 diabetes. Inflammation, another risk factor for type 2 diabetes, is also kept at bay by drinking coffee.

Another memory benefit for coffee drinkers, researchers in Finland have found that drinking coffee is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. As type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for dementia, scientists think that the lower risk of type 2 diabetes associated with drinking coffee may also lower the risk of dementia. Caffeine also prevents the buildup of plaque that may contribute to Alzheimer’s.

Haley Cormier / Gavel Media

Haley Cormier / Gavel Media

Drinking coffee is associated with a lower risk of depression, according to multiple studies. Caffeine helps to control mood by activating neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, possibly suggesting how coffee helps to curb depression.

Although fitness experts recommend against drinking coffee before and after a workout, research has suggested that moderate caffeine consumption isn’t dehydrating enough to interfere with exercise. In fact, caffeine strengthens muscle contractions, reduces the perception of pain and supports endurance. Drinking coffee before going to the plex may enhance performance and endurance to get through leg day.

In addition to coffee, many college students drink a lot of alcohol which can be damaging to the liver. Coffee has been linked to a lower risk of cirrhosis, the degeneration and inflammation of the liver commonly caused by alcohol consumption. Drinking coffee may help to balance out the damage done to your liver last weekend.

Although these findings are exciting for coffee drinkers, it’s important to remember that there can be downsides to drinking coffee, including irritability, nervousness, anxiety and insomnia when consumed in high doses. Sugar-filled coffee beverages also aren’t as healthy as a simple black coffee.

The next time you indulge in a coffee at Hillside and the Chocolate Bar or grab one to-go at Lower, you can give yourself a pat on the back for the many health benefits that that caffeine boost is giving you, and feel more confident in taking on the Plex or the midterm you have coming up next week.

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