Like many others, I’m one of those people who can’t function properly in the morning without a cup of coffee. No matter how groggy I am when I wake up, that freshly brewed coffee has the magical power to jolt me awake and make me a more pleasant human being. I always assumed it was the caffeine in the coffee that did the trick, but according to a report by NBC News, researchers in Portugal have uncovered some fascinating insights about the unique benefits of our morning java.
Coffee is more than just a caffeine fix. A study published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience revealed some intriguing differences between people who drank coffee and those who consumed a caffeine-infused water solution. In the study, 83 participants were divided into two groups: 47 were given coffee, while 36 were given caffeine dissolved in hot water. Before and 30 minutes after drinking their respective beverages, each participant underwent an MRI scan.
The results showed that both groups experienced a decrease in activity in the part of the brain associated with rest, indicating that caffeine had the same energizing effect on everyone, regardless of their beverage choice. However, the coffee drinkers enjoyed an additional perk – increased brain activity in areas responsible for focus, attention, and short-term memory. These cognitive benefits were not observed in those who drank the water-based caffeine solution.
One of the study’s authors, Professor Nuno Sousa of the School of Medicine at the University of Minho in Portugal, said, “The pleasure that a morning coffee lover experiences, which is almost like a ritual, is essential for them to feel ready to tackle the day.”It might also explain why I feel a little more lethargic on days when I choose something more practical, like a canned energy drink straight from the fridge.
Sousa noted that individuals who don’t consume coffee on a regular basis might not experience the same anticipatory effects.
It’s worth noting that the study didn’t investigate the effects of decaffeinated coffee, so we can’t say if it offers the same benefits. Additionally, most of the study participants were women, which could mean that the way people respond to coffee varies depending on their gender. Lastly, caffeine has other physical effects on the body, such as restricting blood flow, which might influence or mask its impact on brain activity.
In any case, it’s evident that our morning coffee ritual is deeply ingrained in our daily lives, and it’s influenced by factors we may not have even been aware of.