In Defense of a REAL Coffee Break

In Defense of a REAL Coffee Break

Starbucks announced a new plan to deliver coffee straight to your desk. Sounds wonderful—except for one thing…

We all have days when the closest we come to a legit coffee break is a frazzled trip to the office Keurig, where we impatiently count the seconds until our mugs fill with 8 ounces of caffeinated goodness. It’s not about the flavor or the experience. It’s just about the fix.

Apparently Starbucks understands those kind of days. They recently announced a plan to deliver food and beverages to customers in select markets in the second half of 2015, meaning you may never need to leave your desk for a coffee break again: “Imagine the ability to create a standing order that Starbucks delivered hot or iced to your desk daily…” Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president, and CEO said on a conference call.

While having a piping hot beverage delivered straight to our caffeine-hungry hands sounds as tempting as a venti pumpkin spiced latte come fall—not to mention delivery can come in handy from time to time (coffee and muffins for the entire office!)—isn’t there something nice about your fresh-air-filled walk to Starbucks every afternoon?

David Posen, MD, author of Is Work Killing You? certainly thinks so. “Your brain gets tired; the maximum amount of time you can concentrate is about 90 minutes,” he explains. “After that, your productivity suffers, and you need to step away from your computer to recharge.”

That’s where your coffee break comes in: “Even a five minute walk can help relieve tension,” says Dr. Posen. “Walking reduces anxiety and elevates mood, making you more productive when you return to the office.” (Dr. Posen suggests ordering decaf for the best stress-relieving results.)

Consider this: People who exercised at a low-intensity (comparable to a leisurely walk to Starbucks) for just 20 minutes a day three times a week were 20 percent more energetic than those who remained stationary, according to a University of Georgia study. Even better if that exercise is outside. A University of Michigan study found that being in nature, even briefly, can boost your memory and attention span. A delicious beverage, plus more focus and energy at the office? Now, that’s an afternoon pick-me-up worth walking for.

Demystifying Coffee Benefits And Risks

Many of us are true coffee addicts. At least I can say that I am. Drinking 4 or 5 cups a day is no exception, and one cup is necessary for me to start in the day with full energy. We hear many bad stories about coffee, such as too much caffeine is bad for the body and the fact that coffee dehydrates the body. But what is true about this?

Coffee bears both risks as well as benefits. To start with the risks, coffee has been found to be an increased risk, especially for pregnant and nursing mothers. Research has established a link between the consumption of over 300 mg of caffeine per day, and low birth weight, miscarriage, and birth defects. Additionally, caffeine impacts our adrenaline functions and has hormonal impacts. Caffeine activates our adrenal hormones, putting the body in a ‘fight or flight’ sort of stage.

This stage usually occurs when a person experiences great excitement, or when he or she is in serious danger. Usually, this stage is only temporary, after which the body returns to its normal stage. Too much caffeine ensures that the body is in this ‘fight or flight’ stage over a longer period of time, limiting other functions of the body, such as its digestion system.

The last risk is, that coffee is notorious for dehydrating the body. Or, better said, it limits the body’s ability to absorb water. Therefore, for each cup of coffee, a person should drink the same amount of water.

Now to the benefits. Yes, moderate coffee consumption does have some notorious benefits, as various studies suggest. For example, moderate coffee consumption reduces the risk of diabetes, due to a reduction of C-peptide levels. Additionally, coffee may reduce the risk of developing gallstones, reduce the risk of colon cancer, increase cognitive functions, and it may reduce the risk of liver damage. Also, coffee is believed to reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s.

The benefits and risks of drinking coffee is an ongoing debate. Having a risk attached to drinking coffee does not mean that it will happen for sure, and many people might still develop Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or gallstones despite drinking coffee their entire lives. Still, drinking coffee in moderate quantities is neither extremely dangerous nor extremely healthy.

The biggest benefit is that you can simply enjoy your coffee, in one of the many variations as it exists in the world today.

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