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Positive effects of coffee

Your morning cup of coffee is a wonderful thing. It is your warm friend that greets you without judgement and helps you face the rigours of the day whether that may be getting children off to school, dealing with a massive workload, or untying the raffia-work placemat that you stayed up late doing when you were really too tired. Coffee, in moderation, is more than a habit, it is a lubricant to your operation in the world and now a new study has shown that it can also help you look at the world in a positive way.

Most people know that caffeine is a stimulant. So it is not a surprise that coffee, as a source of caffeine, can wake you up and give you a burst of energy. What this study has shown however, is that coffee does more than this. It actually promotes a positive focus in the brain.

Caffeine increases activity in the central nervous system (CNS) and that leads to improved performance on cognitive tasks. What was tested in this latest study though was whether coffee consumption had an impact on emotions beyond its stimulating CNS effects.

In the study subjects were either given caffeine equivalent to 2-3 cups of coffee (200mg of caffeine) or a placebo. They were then shown lists of words and asked to recognise the words in a short time frame as the words flashed up on a screen. The results showed that the caffeine led to a greater recognition of words with positive emotional content but no change in recognition of words that were either neutral or negative.

The authors suggest that it is caffeine’s effect on the neurotransmitter dopamine that is causing the positive bias of coffee drinkers. It needs to be remembered that excessive caffeine, abiove 300mg daily, can lead to a condition known as caffeinism which actually feature depression and anxiety. In small amounts however, this study suggests that caffeine and therefore coffee heighten your appreciation of positive things. See that cup of coffee this morning really is half full.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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