Are you the type of person who cannot open your eyes until you’ve had your first cup of java in the morning? You’re not alone, of course. And you’re not bad off either. Drinking coffee is good for you!

Coffee sharpens our focus and concentration, turns our bodies into fat burning machines, make us breathe faster and pee more often. Three out of four Swedes drink coffee every day — and quite a lot of it, too. Says Bertil Fredholm, professor in pharmacology at Karolinska Institutet: “There’s data that shows that a few cups of coffee in the morning can be just as effective as some drugs that the industry is currently trying to formulate against certain forms of dementia. And coffee also shows positive effects on Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes.” Earlier beliefs, that coffee should be a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, have been abandoned, since newer clinical studies show that there are no such connections. According to SBU, Statens beredning för medicinsk utvärdering, coffee is good for diabetics. Diabetics who drink more than two cups daily have a lesser risk to die in a cardiovascular disease than those diabetics who drink less or no coffee at all.


Coffee prevents the loss of the nerve cells
“It seems as if the coffee can prevent the loss of the nerve cells that are important in order to control motor activity, which means one can prevent deterioration,” continues Fredholm, who has studied the effect of caffeine for over 30 years. “But it’s important to start drinking coffee before you are affected with either Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s — if you begin when you’re already affected, the caffeine will offer some relief, but the loss of nerve cells cannot be prevented.”

What then happens when we drink coffee? The caffeine attaches to the surface of the cell, where there are also receptors for a nucleoside called adenosine, which is created in our bodies after we’ve worked a lot or have to little oxygen in our bodies. The adenosine increases when we get tired. Fredholm and his team of researchers have shown that the caffeine stimulate us by blocking the adenosine on the kinds of nerve cells in our brain that control motor activity and motivation — making us less tired.

... and strengthens the immune system
In addition to that, it also looks like caffeine can strengthen the body’s natural immune system against certain kinds of tumors, like malignant melanoma, colon cancer and prostate cancer. The explanation? A tumor creates a lack of oxygen, not only in the center or the tumor but also in nearby tissue, which causes an increase in adenosine, which in turn depletes the body’s immune system. If you add caffeine, you suppress adenosine and you increase the immune system. But you should of course also listen to your body, if you drink so much coffee that you feel irritable, nervous or have problems sleeping — then it’s obviously not good for you. And Fredholm warns that pregnant women should be careful with coffee. “There are studies that show that babies born to women who drink coffee during pregnancy react stronger on drugs that stimulate the central nervous system.”

Some studies suggest even more far-ranging benefits of coffee drinking:

Coffee consumption in the Nordic countries
Coffee consumption is high in all of the Nordic countries. Right now in terms of per capita consumption it seems Finland is on top with Norway, Iceland, Denmark trailing. Next in per capita consumption is the Netherlands, which has surpassed Swedish consumption in recent years. It's always a close call though — according to the World Resource Institute, consumption in 2008 was 8.2 kg in Sweden and 8.4 kg in the Netherlands with Finland at 12 kg per person and year. The USA appears far down the statistics at 4.2 kg per person and year. (WRI, 2008)