If you are one of the 56 percent of adults who drink coffee all of the days, you probably have the hope of getting an energy boost instead of relaxation. But scientists are discovering that coffee may have the potential to reduce emotional and physical stress. In the same way that this drink affects brain chemistry to keep you alert, its effects on neurotransmitters can help your body fight stress symptoms and related illnesses.
A Japanese study investigated coffee itself and also its individual components, caffeine and chlorogenic acid, a type of plant-based antioxidant, for its tension-relaxation benefits in the hippocampus region in the brains of rats. The researchers analyzed the interaction of coffee with the brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters related to emotions. The results, published in the 2002 issue of "Neuroscience Letters," found that coffee reduced the chemical stress response in rats when subjected to stressful conditions.
Stress and blood pressure
Researchers in Switzerland found that coffee affected stress-induced high blood pressure differently in subjects who were regular drinkers versus those who rarely drank coffee. The study, published in 2005 in "Hypertension", showed that coffee caused an increase in blood pressure in situations of stress in non-drinkers, but in those who drank coffee regularly, their blood pressure was not affected by stress, which indicates a potential for a cumulative calming effect. However, a previous study conducted in 1992, published in "Psychosomatic Medicine," found that 6 cups of coffee with caffeine per day increased the response of heart rate to mental stress in 43 healthy subjects.
Stress related to pregnancy
The third trimester of pregnancy is stressful for many women due to the heavier physical changes, tension in the internal organs, back pain, frequent urination, and heartburn. A Japanese team studied the effect of coffee consumption on stress in pregnancy, determined by the levels of cortisol, or "the stress hormone." The results of the study, published in 2006 in the "International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics," found that cortisol levels in pregnant women were significantly reduced after coffee intake. However, as Mayo Clinic points out. com, since caffeine can affect your baby's heart rate and may be associated with a slightly increased risk of miscarriage, it is recommended that you consume no more than two 8-ounce glasses of coffee per day during pregnancy.
The coffeemaker is a staple in most offices, but a study published in 2007 in the journal "Psychoneuroendocrinology" indicates that it may not be a good one when it comes to stress related to the job. Health workers who drank more coffee had the highest levels of the stress hormone cortisol at night after a day's work. However, this increase in cortisol was also linked to decision-making authority, and it may be that those with the greatest responsibility also drank more coffee. A second study published at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom found that consumption of caffeinated coffee in a work environment made men feel more stressed, although it tended to reduce stress in women.
Stress from lack of sleep
Staying awake all night in order to study for exams while you consume a lot of coffee is a family rite of college, but lack of sleep can be stressful for your body. A study published in 2008 in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" found that the smell of coffee alone can help fight stress from lack of sleep. When the researchers tested the aroma of roasted coffee beans in laboratory mice, several of their genes were activated, including some that produce proteins with healthy antioxidant activity and that reduce cortisol.