Coffee and tea are popular pick-me-up drinks in the morning for many of us needing that extra boost for the day. These drinks contain caffeine, which is the most widely consumed, socially accepted stimulant in the world. Caffeine speeds up the messages conveyed between the brain and the body, making us feel more awake, alert and energetic. Given their ability to perk us up, it comes as no surprise that we have our loyal supporters of coffee and tea.
Good news if you are a fellow coffee or tea lover! You will be pleased to know that the benefits of these drinks go far beyond that momentary stimulating effect. Whether you are team coffee or team tea, read on to find out three other health benefits that you can reap while savouring that aromatic cup of yours.
Protection Against Neurological Diseases
We know all too well the roles coffee and tea play in increasing mental performance and giving that extra energy boost. However, in addition to being brain stimulants, your morning cup of coffee or tea may also have a special role in brain protection. The relationship between coffee or tea and the risk of Parkinson’s disease has been described in several studies. Evidence shows that coffee or tea intake has been associated with a reduced risk for Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, coffee or tea consumption has also shown to have a small protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease (a type of dementia).
Decreased Risk for Diabetes
With the War on Diabetes going strong, one can rejoice in the knowledge that coffee or tea consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These beverages have also shown to improve sugar control in patients with diabetes.
How sweet is that? Battling one of the three highs whilst sipping your favourite cuppa coffee or tea. If this sounds too good to be true, it might be. Here’s the catch – these drinks have to be unsweetened. Adding sugar, milk or creamer in your coffee or tea may contribute to the glycemic load and counteract the beneficial effects these beverages have against diabetes.
Protection Against Liver Diseases
The liver is the largest solid organ in the body with more than 500 important functions to keep our body working. Good news is that coffee has a role to play in protecting this key organ of ours. Not only has coffee consumption been associated with a reduced risk for liver cirrhosis (decreased liver function as scar tissues replace healthy liver tissues), it was also observed to result in a decreased rate of disease progression in patients with hepatitis C infection.
Even as we get all excited over the health benefits of coffee and tea, we should be reminded that more does not always mean better. There is a limit to the amount of caffeine we should be consuming per day. It is recommended that we do not exceed 400 mg of caffeine a day, which equates to about 3 cups of coffee or 7 cups of tea a day (the average caffeine content in a cup of brewed coffee and tea are 133 mg and 53 mg respectively).
Excessive caffeine intake may negatively impact health, causing issues such as agitation, anxiety, headache, insomnia, palpitations, stomach upset and tremors. However, one should note that the effects of caffeine may vary from person to person. Hence, you might want to consider cutting down on your caffeine intake should you experience any of these symptoms. Exercising regularly and cultivating good sleeping habits may be good alternatives to help curb the need for a caffeine fix. They are good natural ways to enhance your mental performance, energy and mood, just like caffeine.
While coffee and tea may potentially offer the health benefits as discussed above, based on data that is currently available, there is insufficient evidence for promoting or discouraging regular coffee and/or tea consumption. So, if you need that cup of coffee or tea in the morning to kick-start your day, go ahead and enjoy it!
As with all good things, when it comes to drinking coffee or tea, moderation is the key to good health.
Here's a quick guide to ordering coffee, the fun way!
Photo credit: Fun Toast