Achieve Mental Alertness and Energy Boost: Coffee verses Cardiovascular Exercise

Melbourne is ranked as the most liveable city in the world according to Economist Intelligence Unit
six years in a row and again in 2016. Although Melbourne is famous for restaurants, night-life and sports, locals and tourists agree that there's no other coffee like those in Melbourne.

Coffee is a "must-have" for everyone, from high-school students to adults from all walks of life. You can often see young mothers, walking with their prams with one hand holding the coffee like a Golden Globe Award.

Most of us cannot operate in the morning without our dosage of caffeine. Is this because we were so conditioned into thinking that caffeine is good for us? Or is it because we get a boost of "feel good" vibes every time we drink it? Or is it the expectation that we are more productive if we drink coffee?Regardless of what motivates us to drink coffee, we need to be more discerning and astute with regard to caffeine. There has been discussions, studies, and research into the effects of caffeine. How much is optimal for your health? What are the risks associated with too much caffeine? At what age is appropriate to consume caffeine?

According to Michigan State University Extension, daily dosage of 200 to 300 milligram of caffeine per day is considered moderate. This is equivalent to 2 to 4 cups of coffee. However, on the side of caution, when I choose to drink coffee, I would only drink 1 cup of coffee per day (but not necessarily everyday) due to my weight, height and sensitivity to caffeine. I also choose not to drink coffee after 10am. Having said that, I also drink green tea throughout the day and a cup of dark chocolate now and then.

Below are some of the common beverages that are packed with powerful antioxidants that contain some degree of caffeine:
  • chocolate: flavonoids, procyanidins, epicatechin, cocoa phenols (1 piece of chocolate contains about 5mg)
  • tea: epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and epicatechin, and theanine - beneficial amino acid
  • coffee: chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, melanoidins (1 cup of coffee contains at least 100mg)
Somehow, I feel that it's misleading to assume that coffee has all these health benefits when for example tea contains caffeine as well as other powerful antioxidants that are of benefits to our health. Which then somehow got interpreted that since coffee contains caffeine, it is therefore beneficial so we should consume more of it because it is 'potential and a major contributor' to our well-being and mental alertness.

It is often touted on social media and health news alert that when consumed in moderation, coffee has benefits to humans, such as:

  • protects brain cells
  • reduces risks of colon and liver cancer
  • reduces risks of Parkinson's
  • reduces risks of skin cancer
  • reduces risks of liver cirrhosis 
  • helps constrict blood vessels in the brain and therefore assist in reducing headache pain
  • reduces inflammation and lower the risks of heart-related diseases
From a personal point of view, I feel that all of the above 'health benefits' need further research and independent studies conducted as it seems rather dubious that most of the benefits are attributed to caffeine alone.

However, drinking coffee does have other benefits, just not from a health perspective in my humble opinion. So what are the benefits?
  • Coffee and socialising: it allows people to get together, to converse, to exchange ideas and to promote social interactions.
  • Coffee in the workplace: the phrase of "let's have a cuppa" is synonymous with "let's have a chat"; allows 'down-time' from work-related stressful situations; provides a coping mechanism that allow work colleagues to share their personal frustration and exchange ideas.
So, in terms of psychological health, I would agree that coffee helps in reducing stress, but it's short-term and often times, unreliable.

What are the risks of too much caffeine (whether it's from tea or coffee)?

Furthermore, research as indicated that young children should not be exposed to caffeine, especially beverages such as soft-drinks, soda and energized drinks (e.g., Red Bull)

Now, let's look at Benefits of Cardiovascular exercises and you can then judge for yourself. What age group is this beneficial? All ages. What are the side-effects of physical exercises? None. 

Last but not least, the health benefits that you get from exercise is long-term.


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