Historically speaking, tea is the UK’s traditional hot beverage, but coffee has been rapidly gaining popularity as over 95 million cups are now consumed each day. This rise has a number of implications both medically and culturally, the importance of which are amplified by the pandemic. During quarantine, coffee can provide a wide range of mental and physical benefits for those stuck at home.
A BALANCED APPROACH TO COFFEE
As with all things, coffee can only provide its health benefits when consumed in moderation. The concern stems from caffeine intake, a substance that in moderation can improve focus and reduce pain. Beyond the recommended daily allowance of 400mg however, caffeine may heighten or trigger anxiety, negatively impact sleep or cause heartburn. This 400mg limit equates to 3-5 cups per day.
The global pandemic has understandably led many people to seek answers or help wherever they can find it. Inevitably, the spread of misinformation relating to a number of fake treatments from alcohol to temperature has ensued. Surprisingly enough, this has included coffee, which was the subject of a fake news campaign claiming it could cure coronavirus. Of course, this is untrue and has no scientific basis but it highlights the need for vigilance and skepticism when confronted by suspect news.
Governments and scientists have provided detailed instructions on staying safe and treating coronavirus, none of which mention coffee. Scientists and hygiene specialists agree that disinfection is key to controlling the spread of any infectious disease. This of course includes the coronavirus and while a good brew can bring comfort during this trying time, stringent hygiene standards and social distancing are the best ways to combat the disease. While it can be difficult, it is imperative that these hygiene standards are maintained by both businesses and individuals for the measures to be truly effective.
KEY BENEFITS FOR HEALTH
Broadly speaking, the health benefits of coffee come from two sources — anti-inflammatory or antioxidant compounds, and caffeine. The consumption of coffee is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and a number of cancers. This is thanks to the antioxidants present in the beverage. However, because of the variety of ways that caffeine can interact with our bodies, the benefits of are somewhat more nuanced.
It is important to keep in mind that many of the health benefits associated with coffee rely on it being consumed unsweetened and without milk to be most effective. This is particularly true for people in lockdown. Exercise can be difficult during quarantine, so black coffee may offer some aid in maintaining or losing weight. Research suggests that the increase in one’s metabolic rate caused by caffeine can help burn calories and lead to up to a 4% reduction in body fat.
Interestingly, the analgesic effects of caffeine can also increase the efficacy of traditional pain killers by up to 40% and help stop headaches. Once again, however, too much caffeine may actually trigger more headaches, especially in those prone to migraines. Of course, there are the improvements to focus and wakefulness that caffeine provides. For those working at home, these effects may well prove invaluable as motivation and focus are regularly a struggle in the home environment.
Coffee has become a staple in the UK and is only increasing in popularity. Thanks to its antioxidants and high caffeine content, the beverage provides a myriad of health benefits particularly applicable to those stuck at home. As the market continues to grow, so too does its range of products from delicious cold brew to complex pour overs. This means that there is likely a product to suit just about every consumer looking to capture some of these benefits for themselves.