Why drinking coffee is good for you

Dr Andrew Rochford

THE HEALTHY TRUTH: More than 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed around the world every day.

For many of us, including me, it's how we like to kick start our morning.

Coffee has been blamed for everything from stunting your growth to heart disease and cancer.

But with new research indicating isn't all bad, what's the truth when it comes to coffee and our health?

As any barista will tell you, Aussies guzzle coffee to feel awake and that we are apparently addicted to the chemical caffeine.

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"I think a lot of people have a partial dependency on coffee," Professor Ian Hickie said.

"They've got into the habit of using coffee to drive their body clock in the morning, to be more active to concentrate, and they notice the withdrawal of that."

We all produce a molecule called adenosine, which binds to the cells in our brains and makes us feel sleepy.

But caffeine can take adenosine's place, plugging into the brain's receptors.

So, instead of getting sleepy, we are stimulated.

The more we have, the more receptors our bodies make, and the more caffeine we need to get the same feeling.

The more coffee we have, the more receptors our bodies make, and the more caffeine we need to get the same feeling - but having coffee also helps your health. Photo: 7News

"You certainly don't need caffeine, you could get the same hit if you like out of activity, out of sunlight in the morning and setting your body clock regularly," Professor Hickie said.

The good news is drinking coffee does have its benefits.

Studies have linked it to:

- A 60 per cent lower risk of getting Parkinson's disease.

- A 40 per cent lower risk of liver cancer

- A 15 per cent lower risk of colorectal cancer

- A seven per cent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes

So how much coffee is too much?

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Technically, caffeine can kill you, but the lethal dose is approximately 150mg per kilogram of body weight.

Given there are about 150mg of caffeine in a single cup of coffee, if you weighed 70kg you would need to drink 70 cups of coffee all at once.

The good news is that is physically impossible.

Based on current evidence, to tap into the health benefits of coffee, the magic number is between three and four standard cups a day.

TUESDAY 6PM: Why prescribing chocolate may be good for your heart.