On 1 October, coffee drinkers around the world will celebrate International Coffee Day, dedicated to those cups of java that are central to billions of people’s daily routines.
Data shows that the world is obsessed with that morning brew, with the British Coffee Association reporting that around 2 billion cups are consumed every day – 98 million of which are drunk in the UK.
Just as consuming any other food and beverage will have pros and cons, drinking coffee comes with a variety of health benefits and potential drawbacks, largely influenced by the caffeine it contains.
So, find out about some of the health considerations to take into account with drinking coffee.
3 health benefits of drinking coffee
1. Can supercharge your workouts
One benefit of coffee that has been observed is the way that the caffeine contained within can give you a lift in your physical performance.
A clinical review available on the National Library of Medicine assessed nine previous studies to determine how effective coffee could be in improving “training intensity and competitive performance” among endurance athletes.
The findings showed that the athletes who drank caffeinated coffee saw significant improvements in endurance performance, while also reducing the perceived exertion required.
So, drinking coffee around 45 minutes before endurance workouts could boost your performance.
2. Boosts your cognitive function
As well as giving you a hit of energy for physical workouts, coffee can help your brain to function.
A study available from the Journal of Nutrition on the Oxford Academic website found that caffeine intake was associated with greater cognition.
Similarly, a review of trials published over the past 15 years available from the Wiley Online Library indicates that coffee can give your brain a boost in the short-term. So, a cup of coffee might help you embed and recall information about an upcoming match.
These effects have also been shown to be effective in the long term. A study on the National Library of Medicine suggests that caffeine consumption can reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
That means you could be doing your brain a favour for the future, too.
3. Helps your body to heal damaged cells
Interestingly, there’s evidence that coffee helps your body to recover and heal damaged cells.
Coffee contains polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, which a study on the National Library of Medicine found to improve recovery from muscle soreness and injuries.
That could mean drinking it throughout the season might potentially help you to keep fit, or recover from injuries in those unfortunate months when you’re side-lined.
3 potential drawbacks of drinking coffee
1. May interrupt your sleep cycle
One of the most notable downsides of coffee is that caffeine can interrupt your sleep cycle.
You may have read our previous article in which we discussed the importance of sleep for professional footballers in helping your body to stay in peak condition and even recover from illness and injury.
As a result, anything that disrupts this could be potentially hazardous to your health.
Caffeine has an average “half-life” – the time it takes your body to remove half of the drug – of around three to five hours. How long this will take for you will depend on elements such as your height, weight, and metabolism.
This means that the caffeine from a post-dinner coffee at 9pm might not reduce by half until beyond 2am. So, if you drink coffee, try to make sure you only do so in the mornings to give your body the best chance of metabolising any caffeine before you go to bed.
Decaffeinated coffee can also make a difference here – although it’s worth noting that decaffeinated is not the same as uncaffeinated, meaning there will still be some caffeine remaining in these alternatives.
2. Can make you feel anxious
There’s research to show that the caffeine in coffee can also increase feelings of anxiety.
A study accessible on the Cambridge University Press website shows a clear link between anxiety and caffeine, noting that it can cause, maintain, or worsen anxiety disorders.
The research even cites specific caffeine-related syndromes such as caffeine-induced anxiety disorder.
It may be worth monitoring how coffee makes you feel after drinking it if you’re concerned about this. After all, the last thing you want is a sense of anxiety on matchday.
3. There are other physical drawbacks
Another drawback of coffee and the caffeine contained within it is that it may come with a range of other physical drawbacks.
It can temporarily increase blood pressure, according to a National Library of Medicine study, although it’s worth noting that this doesn’t necessarily correlate to an increased risk of medical complications such as heart disease or stroke.
Caffeine is also a powerful psychoactive drug, meaning it can lead to withdrawal symptoms if you become dependent on it and then try to quit.
This might be in the form of headaches, exhaustion, or brain fog once you stop consuming it, none of which you want to be contending with if you’re to perform at your highest level.
If you start to experience any of these issues, it may be worth reconsidering whether your consumption is healthy and in moderation.