Drinking coffee in the morning can actually be a healthy habit if it’s done correctly. Coffee can provide several wonderful and almost instant benefits that can make your day a lot easier and stress free. The secret to enjoying the best of what coffee has to offer in terms of health benefits is moderation and a minimum knowledge of one’s nutritional needs and other health requirements. In other words, drinking coffee can be good for you as long as you keep your intake moderate and consider existing health issues.
The greatest benefits of drinking coffee are the short term ones and they have to do primarily with the stimulant effect of caffeine. The nervous and digestive systems benefit the most from the immediate effects of caffeine which produces several short term, short lived benefits. Just as important, these benefits are determined by how much coffee you drink and when you drink it. A moderate intake is the most likely to produce the most benefits and few to none side effects. Here are 5 instant benefits of drinking coffee in the morning:
1) Generates more drive, increases alertness and productivity. What coffee does is increase the production of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone because it’s produced in higher amounts in response to a perceived danger or stress. Its role is to prepare the body for massive action and, to do so, it employs various mechanisms such as increasing blood pressure, urging bowel movements to clear the digestive tract and allow for faster movement, altering glucose metabolism to cause hyperglycemia that gives the body resources to go on.
Cortisol basically ups alertness and generates more energy, more vitality. And since caffeine stimulates the nervous system to produce more cortisol, drinking coffee helps you be more alert, generates drive, motivation and eagerness, pushing productivity. The stimulant nature of coffee promotes good disposition and can help improve mood in the short term.
2) Enhances memory and learning. By modulating nervous system activity, coffee supports learning and memory, stimulating intellectual effort and increasing cognitive performance. However, sleep is needed in order to consolidate memories, meaning that coffee drinking should be done responsibly if you are looking to maintain a steady level of cognitive performance.
3) Relieves constipation. Higher cortisol levels is a call to action and the digestive system is one of the first to respond. Clearing out food from the digestive tract as soon as possible is part of the fight or flight response and aims at making the body lighter in order to flee danger. Drinking coffee increases the production of cortisol and the body responds by emptying food from the digestive tract, hence the rather urgent trips to the bathroom most coffee drinkers experience soon after their first cup. This can be good in the short term because it helps shorten transit time, relieve constipation and prevent the unwell sensation or feelings or weakness or dizziness accompanying constipation. Also read Constipation and feeling unwell.
4) Good for headaches and migraines. A small cup of coffee can actually help get rid of headaches, especially tension headaches, and sometimes migraines and has been shown to even amplify the effects of headache medications. Coffee works best for headaches and migraines in people who don’t drink it every day or in great amounts.
5) Combats mental and physical fatigue. The reason most people drink coffee in the morning is because they wake up feeling tired, unmotivated, brain-fogged. Coffee increases mental alertness and offers an almost instant sense of vitality, helping combat brain fog and fatigue. People working late hours may resort to drinking coffee later in the day in order to elude sleep and preserve that push that caffeine gives them that allows them to have the long, productive day they were hoping to.
But what is the best time to drink coffee in the morning? There are actually certain windows of opportunity when drinking coffee can help you maintain that ideal level of mental alertness paired with a good disposition and motivation to be productive. Drinking coffee first thing in the morning is actually counterproductive because your body will already be producing significant amounts of cortisol to help you get your day started. The best time in the morning to drink coffee is actually after you’ve had your breakfast, from around 9:30 to 11:30 (read more about what the best hours to drink coffee are and why).
This way, the boost your coffee gives you will not be competing with that natural drive, but continuing it for sustained productivity and a steady level of good disposition and energy. Moreover, you will be avoiding the harshness of coffee on an empty stomach, which is to be avoided anyway, more so if you are dealing with gastritis or ulcers (read more about 6 biggest side effects of drinking coffee).
How much coffee should you be drinking? Despite some studies showing there are benefits to drinking coffee everyday and in large amounts (more than 2 cups a day, up to 5-6 cups a day), coffee remains a double edged food product which is best consumed in limited amounts and only occasionally. The benefits of drinking coffee in small amounts and only occasionally far outweigh those of drinking coffee everyday or in high amounts and remains the safest option for everyone.