Coffee is, to many, a functional morning perk to start their day right in the morning or as an afternoon booster. But in all seriousness, caffeine is a drug most often used in the form of tea, with smaller doses in soft drinks or chocolates. Most of us are well aware of the negative effects it can have on our mood with anxiety and irritability. Can it actually have a beneficial effect on stress? While we seem to have a love affair with these foods, there’s been quite a bit of confusion, and even controversy, with various pros and cons offered.
Coffee may not be the first thing that you think of when it comes to reducing stress. Does more caffeine equal less stress? Well, coffee keeps you awake longer, thereby reducing your sleeping hours. A caffeine buzz must be the last thing we should feel the urge to try for relaxing. But, studies reveal that its intake potentially reduces emotional and physical stress, along with changing the brain’s chemistry by helping us to fight depression.
Strong cravings for fats and carbs cause the body to store rather than metabolise. Caffeine-laden foods even lead to worse health with impaired ability to taste the sweet flavours. But it helps to break down the fats 30% more efficiently if consumed prior to exercise. Hence it balances hunger levels.
It enhances physical performance and endurance. Instead of feeling fatigued, it actually improves workouts and enables you to get into better shape if consumed at the right time. It is observed to improve athletic performance.
It may cause mood to soar and plummet, thereby causing you to lose sleep and suffer the health consequences. Instead of it lifting the mood and giving a boost, simply getting away from your work desk and walking around for a while actually does wonders for stress.
In controlled doses, caffeine can be a friend to you, but one should not take too much and be dependent on it. One of the BBC channels reported it to be a rich compound to reduce heart attacks, strokes, and increase blood supply to the brain, offering to protect against dementia. Our life is all about moderation. So choose not to drink too much coffee and overindulge in it. Switch to alternative brews like herbal tea, or organic detox drinks like Knotgrass, wild pansy tea, citronella or natural coffee known as Bambu that is completely free from caffeine and is non-addictive, to cleanse the system and improve the digestive processes. Use it as a massaging agent on the face or skin.
Some are coffee people and others aren’t – and that’s OK. But a break is good to boost your productivity at the workplace, to rethink a problem, and be more relaxed or simply beat the habit by following this alternative suggestion of mine: dilute the coffee with more milk and water to reduce the impact of caffeine and choose to switch to low-caffeine based drinks.
Jashan Jot Kaur is a researcher at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.
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