By Lillie Wright

There are several benefits to drinking coffee outside of boosting energy levels. While most people only think of the caffeine benefits, many active ingredients in both regular and decaf coffee provide surprising benefits.

One of the benefits of coffee in the morning is improved brain health. Caffeine aids in alertness and attention, allowing us to make better decisions and increase productivity. It keeps us sharp, focused, and ready for the day ahead. There is another lesser-known benefit–warding off Alzheimer’s disease. The caffeine in coffee provides significant protection against this terrible disease. Johns Hopkins Medicine states that women 65 and older who drink two to three cups of coffee daily are less likely to develop dementia, possibly saving millions of lives. They also claim drinking coffee may benefit those with Parkinson’s disease. For those struggling with the illness, caffeine may help control the tremors and movements associated with it. For those not yet afflicted by the disease, it may lower your chances of developing it. According to Johns Hopkins, women who drink coffee regularly are also thought to reduce their risk of stroke significantly, the fourth leading cause of death in women.

Multiple studies prove drinking coffee regularly reduces the rate of Type 2 Diabetes. According to Cleveland Clinic, it doesn’t have to be caffeinated–both regular and decaf coffee contain acids that slow blood-sugar concentration and absorption in the intestines. It also does amazing things for the liver, fighting off cirrhosis and Fatty Liver disease. Unfortunately, liver benefits only come from the caffeinated coffee variety. Caffeine protects the liver from these conditions, along with antioxidants and other compounds, and decaf does not have the same kick. Some studies suggest a positive link between Hepatitis C and coffee since the disease affects the liver. Most doctors recommend drinking it black, but for those who can’t stomach it, they suggest artificial sweeteners instead of sugar and skim or plant-based milk rather than cream.

Experts recommend three cups daily to ward off Fatty Liver disease–more if you already have it. But they warn interested people to speak to their doctors before taking on this lifestyle, especially since coffee must contain caffeine to reap its benefits. According to one study by Men’s Health, drinking two cups of coffee a day reduced the risk of liver cancer by 43%. Researchers believe that the lowered risk is due to specific compounds in the coffee that slow the production of liver enzymes and disease progression. Liver cancer is the second deadliest, so finding a simple way to reduce the risk is hopeful. Men’s Health also states that coffee helps avoid kidney stones due to its laxative effects. The same goes for tea, wine, and beer.

Drowsy Driving is one of the leading causes of death in motor vehicle accidents. Driving is a tedious, complicated task requiring significant concentration, which can be challenging to maintain when tired. Drinking caffeine, specifically coffee, may help avoid this dangerous habit. Rough night; need more sleep? Grab some coffee and save a life! A study from the Netherlands found that people who drank one cup of caffeinated coffee while participating in a driving test swerved less, maintained better speed, and rated their driving as better than those who did not drink coffee. Coffee also helps people remember things better, like road rules and navigation, meaning less time spent fumbling around for a cell phone or map and more time watching the road.

A lesser-known benefit of coffee in the morning, especially dark roast coffee, is DNA protection. Dark roast coffee has specific properties that defend against breakages in DNA strands. This may not sound like much since these strands break down naturally, but too much breakage can lead to the development of cancerous tumors. Tumors develop due to unregulated cell division within the body. Damaged DNA spreads to nearby cells, infecting them and continuing the cycle. Antioxidants naturally found in coffee help prevent DNA from becoming damaged in the first place, effectively shutting down any unregulated growth. These antioxidants benefit both men and women and help protect against various cancers.

Everyone wants to protect their Mental Health, and simple solutions often benefit the most. Coffee, or caffeine in general, is not an accredited pharmacological treatment, but more and more studies are coming to the same conclusion: Coffee helps depression. An article from Psychology Today proposed that coffee’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce the release of chemicals in the brain attributed to feelings of sluggishness, lack of energy, and low mood. So you may not be imagining that warm, positive feeling that comes from sipping your favorite cup of joe. By blocking the release of negative chemicals, caffeine allows more dopamine (the brain’s pleasure chemical) to release into the body. Dopamine makes us feel energized and excited about the day rather than tired and sluggish–affecting a part of the brain responsible for decision-making, pleasure, and motivation. The more dopamine available to our systems, the better we’ll be at these critical tasks and the more we will enjoy doing them. Depression is characterized by a lack of motivation and an inability to feel pleasure. If coffee can increase these feelings, it could be a game changer in the fight against Mental Illness.

Another benefit of coffee in the morning is improved physical performance. Many people consume caffeinated pre-workout supplements before hitting the gym, often with unregulated ingredients and dangerous levels of caffeine. Switching out these products for coffee provides a natural alternative to pre-workouts. Coffee also has post-workout benefits. Drinking coffee after a hard workout can help alleviate muscle pain and soreness, allowing for a faster recovery. It also improves glycogen replenishment, creating more stable blood sugar levels and eliminating the post-workout “crash” that leads many people to overeat. It is important to remember to drink water after a workout, as coffee tends to dehydrate the body.

One benefit of coffee in the morning that is often overlooked is its social benefit. e less isolated, depressed, and lonely. Many enjoy meeting with friends or anxiously awaiting a first date at their local coffee house. Coffee Culture has spread worldwide and brings people together from all walks of life. People who venture out to coffee shops and enjoy their drinks amongst the patronage tend to be less isolated, depressed, and lonely, something the recent COVID-19 pandemic made much more prevalent. Loneliness is an epidemic in much of the world today, and people long for the days when humans existed in a community. Hosting events like book clubs, Bible studies, and meetings at coffee shops force people to interact with the public in a way that would be impossible to achieve over Zoom. Humans are social creatures, and we desperately need to be around each other to remind ourselves that people still exist. We must be exposed to people different than us and learn to see the world from different angles.

Customers start conversations with each other, asking about their drink of choice or what made them choose this particular shop. Regular customers form relationships with the staff and look forward to seeing a friendly face when they visit. Coffee shops have become a community gathering place where people feel comfortable slowing down, enjoying a delicious beverage or treat, and taking in all life has to offer. Coffee is a universal language synonymous with goodwill, kindness, and quality. When someone offers to make coffee, they are often met with excitement and gratitude. It is a way to show someone that you care.