The Effects of Coffee on the Body: Delicious, Nutritious, & Chemical

In these modern times, there are so many ways to get yourself a pick-me-up.

effects of coffee on the bodyMy brother reaches for his morning energy drink, usually a monster. (Bleh.)

A friend of mine from college always has a case of Diet Coke in her trunk, just in case she needs a boost in morale.

And we all have that uncle who’s constantly got an Irish coffee in his left hand and a pipe in the other.

But the majority of America agrees that a nice cup of coffee, is the only thing worth getting up for in the morning.

According to a test ran in 2010, 54% of American adults drink coffee on a daily basis.

Though the effects are certainly biochemical, it’s a deeply psychological practice. Never underestimate the power of a daily routine. Click here to check out my beloved French Press routine.

But along with the cognitive boost that I so rely on, there comes a… less glamorous side effect.

About 30 minutes after my morning cup, nature does call…

Can anyone relate?

Stick with me and find out why.

The short answer is caffeine.

As an avid coffee drinker, I’m sure you know that caffeine is a stimulant. We bank on that chemical in the morning; it wakes us up. BUT caffeine sets off chemical reactions in the gut which cause you to run for the John.

Sounds great, right?

Coffee keeps you regular. That’s a bonus!

But! It is agreed upon in the medical community that it is folly to look to coffee as your only digestive aid. It is also a diuretic, which means that it causes you to pee. This could lead to potential dehydration, which is the leading cause for constipation.

Weird conundrum, but it just goes to show that everything is all about balance.

For instance, where as a double espresso or a dark drip coffee may be incredibly helpful to your average Joe (pun intended,) there is a list of folks that should be cautious with their caffeine regimens.

Check out my piece on How Much is Too Much for a full break down.

But essentially, if you have a family history of heart palpitations, if you are pre-dispositioned for anxiety or insomnia, I would go decaf since the healing constituents are not tied to the caffeine content.

I would caution you, however, that decaf is not completely devoid of caffeine. That’s why it’s called DEcaf, not NONcaf. There is usually about 50mg of caffeine per cup, as opposed to the near 200mg that you get from one cup of regular coffee.

Aside from the caffeine plumbing benefits, coffee is has a plethora of healing effects, in and of itself.

The coffee bean is a pharmacopeia.

Since we’ve already covered the benefits (and woes, if you clicked on my link to the article about cautions,) let’s get back to the beans and discuss the array of health benefits to every cup.

Coffee is Delicious and Nutritious

Let’s start from the noggin’ and move down the body and see how coffee can heal and balance the body in a holistic way.

Neuro-cognitive benefits

We know all about and have counted on the coffee bean’s ability to fight fatigue, boost morale and clear the foggy morning mind.

But what else does it do?

Studies have shown that the daily routine of drinking coffee boost memory!

They have even ran tests on the elderly who had family history of Alzheimers and Dementia. They’ve found that there is a substantial connection to 3-4 cups daily and the decrease of mental decline. We’re talking 61%, people! That’s huge!

Movin’ on down to the mouth, the start of the digestive system.

Digestive Health

Coffee stimulates the process of breaking down food and taking in nutrients from that meal by triggering several of hormonal reactions from the second you take that first sip.

This is due to the increase of the most notable hormone involved in gastrointestinal health: motilin. You know that cramping feeling whilst racing to the loo, you can blame your motilin levels.

The Encyclopedia Brittanica likens this process to waves. Each swell begins as the gastric enzymes are activated along the sides and roof of the mouth. This signals the digestive system to kick into gear! This property puts the coffee bean into the category of digestive bitters. More on that lingo later.

From there, the reaction continues down the esophagus and into the lower intestine, triggering persitalsis.

Peristalsis is the constriction and relaxation of the muscles in the bowels. It causes the involuntary “spasms” of the bathroom systems that move contents along the tract to eventually be evacuated from the body.

So your daily cup can keep you as predictable as clockwork.

Detoxifying Organs

Partnering up with your digestive system, you have your clean-up crew: kidneys, liver, and skin.

Coffee stimulates the function of the kidneys. Within the kidneys, there are teeny filters called nephrons. These guys purge the blood of waste and send that waste to the bladder.

Coffee keeps the liver healthy! The liver’s primary function is metabolizing food, making them into compounds that the body can work with more easily, think vitamins and minerals. During that process, the liver detoxifies the materials in our food that could be harmful to our bodies and passes them through to be expelled from the body.

Healthy Heart

Although I mentioned that people who have a history of heart palpitations should probably switch to decaf at the start of the article, there is evidence of coffee has a positive effect on people who are at risk of coronary heart disease.

Because coffee protects the liver and helps it metabolize foods more readily, it dramatically decreases the possibility of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the leading cause of coronary heart failure, because the it adds the depleting levels of insulin leads to the build up of plaque in the arteries of the heart.

Studies have shown that 3-5 cups of coffee a day are less likely to have a heart attack.

Breathing Benefits

Coffee is a bronchodilator.

You may be thinking, “a broncho-what-now?”

But the action is well described by this strange word. Bronchodilators open up the pathways from the throat to the lungs. The suffix bronch tells us the location of the action, the throat. (Think BRONCHitis.) And the suffix dilator indicates the action itself, the widening of something. (Think of how the eye doctor dilates your pupils.) Coffee relaxes the muscles of the bronchial passages, making it easier to take breaths.

20,000 patients who had mild to severe asthma were tested during a study to find out if coffee can serve as a secondary, and scrumptious, asthma treatment. The findings were incredible! They found that coffee works at the same level as theophylline, which is commonly prescribed to treat wheezing, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.

In addition to all this goodness, the routine of making coffee or stopping at a coffee shop is considered a healing ritual.

Habitual Healing

While we sleep, our body is hard at work, breaking down whatever we had for dinner, dessert or midnight snack. You’re burning calories just laying there because metabolizing and moving waste through your system is hard work.

That’s why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You have to replenish your calorie count in order for your nutrient stash doesn’t deplete as you burn your energy while you walk the dog, go to work, or take care of the baby.

Your coffee on the side comes in as a close second.

For all the reasons listed above, PLUS the added benefit of speeding the break down of sugary morning treats. I personally can’t say no to an almond croissant in the morning, so I make sure to have a couple cups of coffee to make up the difference.

That sounds like cheating, but the science backs it 100%.

It may also come as no surprise that coffee affects the body in almost countless other ways and GGC has amassed a large portfolio of articles dedicated to many specific health implications, both positive and negative.

If you are up for more reading check out the index below. It’s our entire library of health related articles on the site.

Can You Drink Coffee on a Juice Cleanse
Do K-Cups Expire? Do They Actually Go Bad?
Is Coffee Acidic? The pH Level of Coffee Explained
Does Instant Coffee Expire or Go Bad?
Is Instant Coffee Bad For You?
Honey In Coffee: 6 Reasons Why You Might Want To Try It!
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much? Safety Guideline Roundup
Can I Eat Coffee Beans?

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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