It’s deeply breathing in the delicious scent from your mug, easing you into another day. The dark, rich color. The “ahhh” moment of your first sip. For many people, coffee transcends the level of average beverages to something much more meaningful.
According to the Coffee Research Institute, 54 percent of adults in the United States enjoy coffee every day, and another 25 percent drink it occasionally. It does much more than just help them wake up. Studies repeatedly show that coffee’s effects help both the body and mind work better.
Coffee and your mind
Coffee helps you think. According to a 2006 report by the National Coffee Association, more and more people are recognizing the mental boost they’re getting from coffee. Studies show it improves cognitive function, short-term memory and concentration, so you’ll be able to understand and process new information quickly.
Currently studies are looking at how coffee does this by acting on the brain’s prefrontal cortex. In a study at the Medical University in Innsbruck, Austria, a group of people who were given coffee had significantly increased activation in parts of the prefrontal lobe than those who had received a placebo.
This activated area of the brain is important for “executive memory.” For example, when you look up a telephone number in the yellow pages and mentally store it before dialing. The elevated activation of the prefrontal lobe also aids in concentration, attention, planning and monitoring.
Coffee and your body
Not only can coffee help enhance your mental performance, but it may be just what you need to take your physical performance to the next level as well. Experts at the Harvard Medical School have reported that coffee has been shown to improve endurance performance in long-duration physical activities.
In a different review of studies on caffeine and exercise, researchers found that caffeine improved physical performance by at least 10 percent. Even small amounts of caffeine proved beneficial to exercise, sometimes as little as 90 mg. (One cup of coffee usually contains 50-120 mg.)
So whether you’re doing your taxes, running a mile or just taking a break, coffee will be there to help you along. And you’ll have even more reasons to sit back and enjoy every sip.
Harvard Women’s Health Watch. “Coffee Health Risks: For the Moderate Drinker, Coffee Is Safe,” Harvard Health Publications. www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/coffee_health_risk.htm
International Coffee Organization. “Coffee and Health—Some Surprising Findings.” www.positivelycoffee.org/topic_exercise_overview.aspx
International Coffee Organization. “Coffee and Mental Performance.” www.positivelycoffee.org/topic_mental_revision.aspx
National Coffee Association. “National Coffee Drinking Trends 2006.”
Paluska, SA. “Caffeine and Exercise,” Curr Sports Med Rep, Aug 2003, 2(4):213-219.
Vince, G. “Coffee’s Effects Revealed in Brain Scans,” NewScientist.com, December 2005. www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8401