Decaffeinated Stress

“We want to do a lot of stuff; we’re not in great shape. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep. We’re a little depressed. Coffee solves all these problems in one delightful little cup.”

Do you need coffee to be productive at work? You're not alone, in fact, 46% of employees say they are less productive without that morning cup of coffee. To a group of Cambridge University scientists it was so important, that it led them to develop the world’s first webcam in 1991. They set a camera on their work building’s coffee pot, streaming the footage live on the web so that they would be able to see if the pot was empty or not, saving themselves the disappointment of a coffee-less trip.

41.630.000 bags of coffee

We are huge consumers of the “Black Gold.” According to the European Coffee Federation, in Europe we consume a total of 41.630.000 bags of 60 Kg of coffee. This comes down to 4,84 kg per person, per year. With extremes such as Luxembourg, where you may wonder what else they drink: consuming 24,40 kg of coffee per person per year.

Coffee & Stress

Should we worry? What are the health effects of Coffee? And more specifically: how does it affect stress?

This blog about coffee is prompted by a new Portugese research study, claiming that coffee is a natural medicine against stress and depression. As they explain, this effect is due to the block of a particular type of receptors, present in hippocampal neurons, which prevents the atrophy of the synapses. The discovery opens the way for possible new therapies for mood disorders and memory.  

The findings are quite surprising. Afterall, coffee was notorious for its negative health effects and for increasing stress. As the theory goes, caffeine acts as a stimulant making our bodies release more stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream. When people are under stress, the levels of these hormones are already too high, and caffeine exacerbates them.

Making up the balance

I was trained as a Nutritional Scientist and when it comes to the health effects of foods and beverages, I am all too familiar with the contradictions between different research studies. Coffee is a very good example of this.

Reason enough to have a better look and make up the balance: is coffee good for you?

In the last years, numerous research studies are coming with some great news for us coffee junkies:

Good news?

What can we conclude from these discussions? Well, first of all it's hard to know for sure whether coffee is really causing good effects: lifestyles or behaviors associated with coffee consumption may also influence health. Also, different people have different tolerances for coffee.

As with many things: Coffee is good for you, but it's OK to hold back.